There has been much discussion lately on whether law schools are training lawyers for 21st century law practice. At the ABA Annual Meeting this week in San Francisco a Presidential Task Force on the Future of Legal Education is scheduled to report out its recommendations.. In my last blog post, I identified 13 law schools that were making a commitment to training law students in legal technology and law practice management. At one point in my career, I taught these subjects at several law schools under the guidance of Gary Munneke., -- whose untimely death last November has created a vacuum that will be hard to replace.
My own bias is that in this digital age, to be a competent lawyer requires an understanding of legal practice technology. The ABA supports this view as at last year's mid-year meeting the ABA House of Delegates acting on the recommendations of the ABA 20/20 Commission, voted to amend the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to make clear that lawyers have a duty to be competent in technology. Specifically, the ABA voted to amend the comment to Model Rule 1.1, governing lawyer competence, to say that, in addition to keeping abreast of changes in the law and its practice, a lawyer should keep abreast of “the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.”
I have been looking for an opportunity to getting back into teaching law practice technology and now have the opportunity with Stephanie Kimbro to create a new Center for Law Practice Technology with the backing of Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Florida.
Stephanie and I will become Co-Directors of this new Center. and the plan is to develop a series of online courses for law students nationwide that will lead to a Certificate of Law Practice Technology and Management. The first courses will be offered in January, 2014.
The Center will also be a laboratory for developing and testing new forms of online legal services. Students will have the opportunity to experience virtual law firm technologies and other emerging technology tools such as legal expert systems, document automation technology, and legal applications that are designed to increase access to the legal system. You can read more about this new Center here.