Bringing Attorneys into the World of Technology
Updated: Aug 2, 2019
Attorneys-I love you dearly, but someone’s got to say this and it may as well be me. You need to become familiar with computer basics! Now, for you younger, millennial lawyers, this message is likely not for you because you should be comfortable with computers. But, for my “seasoned” attorneys who have been in practice for many years and flat out refuse to even attempt to learn computer basics, you’re digging yourselves into a deep, dark hole. If you’re holding out hope that one day all these computer, internet, digital shenanigans are going to dry up and go away, forget about it. Not happening. So, with that said, let’s pull our heads out of the sand and do what we need to do. It’s not as hard as you may think.
I’m sure you’ve noticed over the past year, that courts, law offices, police departments, and just about everyone else are jumping onto the “digital” bandwagon. Items with the letter “e” (for “electronic”) are popping up everywhere: e-mail, e-courts, e-filing, and e-discovery. You may be relying on your secretary to figure all this out while keeping yourself at a safe distance. There is nothing wrong with tapping into the technical skills of your awesome secretary or paralegal, but what if there is an urgent matter, after hours, and you need to send an email to the Judge-pronto! Are you going to freeze up in fear while frantically dialing your secretary hoping she'll pick up the phone, or trust that you can, at least, send and receive an email correspondence?
Did you know that learning new things stretches your brain? That’s a scientific fact. It helps ward off Alzheimer’s too. That alone should be reason enough to at least consider learning computer basics. At a minimum, all attorneys should know how to turn on a computer, learn basic Microsoft Word, and be able to navigate to the internet to send or retrieve email. And of course, let’s not forget one of the most important things, using Google to look things up! Aren’t you getting excited? Alright, maybe not, but consider this: Judges are getting a bit annoyed with attorneys who don’t keep on top of their digital discovery issues.
In fact, according to an article in Bloomberg Law, Judges Frustrated by Lawyers’ Lack of E-Discovery Expertise, “Almost three out of four federal judges found it necessary to issue warnings or schedule additional conferences to solve e-discovery problems.” The article further goes on to say, “At the same time, judges are reluctant to take proactive roles in managing e-discovery disputes—and by an almost two-to-one margin they conceded that they need more education and training in e-discovery technology and practices.” Look at that, even Judges admit the need to beef up their computer technology skills so they can stay in the loop and keep abreast of what’s going on. (I thought I’d throw that in to drive my point home, because I know how attorneys love “proven facts” and seeing things in writing.)
The bottom line is this, e-discovery protocol is the wave of the future, and having someone make copies of documents and mail them directly to your doorstep is pretty much a done deal in many cases. And let’s not even get started on those video and audio files generated by police departments. Some departments are kind enough to actually burn those files to a disc and send them to you, yet others, such as the New Jersey State Police, require that you log onto their website and download those files yourself.
As you can see, the world is changing and attorneys need to be open to riding that wave and changing a bit too. I know it can seem overwhelming to absorb all this at once, but why not start out by learning how to turn on a computer and watch your desktop load up. That certainly should give you some sense of accomplishment. Also, another sweet bonus to learning the computer is that when you're around other attorneys who are using technical jargon, your ears will perk up because you better understand the lingo. Next, let’s Google! It will open up a whole new world and you’ll be genuinely fascinated by what’s available to you by a few strokes of your fingertips.