“We’d all be a lot happier if we had some romancing foreplay pre-trial and left the rough stuff for trial,” said Ariana Tadler, a partner in the New York office Milberg LLP.
That quote came from an article published yesterday entitled, Show Us the Love to Avoid Discovery Fights, Attorneys Urge, from Leigh Jones of The National Law Journal. Jones was covering the 2010 Conference on Civil Litigation, held this year at Duke University.
Whether or not you agree with Ms. Tadler’s choice of words, her point has been gaining steam in the world of e-discovery. The Sedona Conference, e-discovery’s premier think tank, issued a Cooperation Proclamation in July 0f 2008. One of the most prominent federal judges who comments on e-discovery issues, Paul W. Grimm, talks of lawyers being like dinosaurs. If lawyers do not do something to work together to help ease the burden and cost of e-discovery, the profession, itself, will simply wind up extinct.
So what does this have to do with Biglaw, or better yet, what opportunity does this present for law students? Quite a bit actually, especially on the judicial end of things. I’ll explain, after the jump.
“What’s the difference between an email and a pager?”
Yep, I know that question from Chief Justice John Roberts during arguments in Quon has been kicked around the media these last few weeks (Here’s Kash’s take on that from True Slant). I know that question would seem as silly as someone asking what the difference was between a telephone and an alarm clock.
What it goes to show, however, is that many of you reading this are more tech-savvy than you realize. Obviously, you know how to use a computer, get on the internet, and read a blog. Often to my dismay, I am also well-aware that many of you know how to post comments as well.
Point being, though, that legal technology, as is technology in general, is changing exponentially year after year, which takes me back to Ms. Jones’ original article.
Asked by a reporter following the panel discussion whether federal judges were sufficiently guiding the electronic discovery process among the parties, U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz said that some were and some weren’t. “It’s lumpy, to use a statistical term,” said Kravitz, a judge in the District of Connecticut and chairman of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules…
Part of the solution, he said, is educating judges about the technology used in electronic discovery.
So judges are going to have to take a more active role in technology and the law, especially with regard to e-discovery. In order to do this, they will have to have people around them who understand it. If I were at a top tier law school, going for a clerkship, I would want to emphasize my knowledge of technology. Or better yet, if I were a young litigation associate somewhere in Biglaw, I would want to have a good grasp of case management and review tools as well.
I am not saying that all lawyers should also be technology experts. I’m all for lawyers doing the legal work and the technologists handling technology. But, all too often, I have red flags raised when the attorneys had a cursory (at best) knowledge of technology, and techs had no clue of the discovery process. Lawyers that take the time to keep up with legal technology trends will be badly needed to help bridge that gap.
Gabe Acevedo is an attorney in Washington, D.C. and the owner of the e-discovery blog, GabesGuide.com. He also writes on legal technology and discovery issues for Above The Law. He can be reached at email@example.com.