Richard C. Wesley

In my last column, I shared how Judge Richard Wesley of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is using his iPad while on the bench. I explained how he got started using technology—by using PDFs instead of paper documents—and eventually transitioned to using his iPad for many of his judicial duties. And we learned that not only does he use an iPad, he has managed to convince some of his Second Circuit colleagues to do the same, thus reducing the amount of paper used by the judges.

It was clear from my last column that Judge Wesley is sold on the benefits of using technology. But he’s also well aware of the drawbacks—a topic I promised to cover in today’s column. So let’s get started.

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Lawyers have embraced mobile computing at a much faster rate than other types of emerging technologies. In fact, according to the American Bar Association’s 2013 legal technology survey, nearly 91% of lawyers now use smartphones in their law practices, up from 89% in 2012. Tablet use has also increased quickly, with 48% of lawyers reporting that they now use tablets in their law practices, up from 33% in 2012.

Those are impressive numbers considering that the iPhone was first released in 2007 and the iPad became available to the public in just 2010. So in less than a decade, these mobile tools have become commonplace in law offices, and tablet continues to rise.

And it’s not just practicing lawyers who use tablets. Believe it or not, judges do, too. In fact, not only do some of them use tablets — some of them rely on their tablets to get their jobs done. Judge Richard Wesley of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is one of those judges. In this two-part series, I’m going to share with you how he uses his iPad to increase his efficiency on the bench and what he thinks about the effects of technology on the legal profession.

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Albany Law School seems to be having a rough go of it this year. The school’s long-time dean, Thomas Guernsey, announced that he would be stepping down from his position on June 30, 2011. Next, after a 20% drop in applications, the school decided to admit ten fewer students for the incoming class of 2014. The school then opted to cut 2% from its $32 million annual budget, amounting to a $600,000 reduction. Finally, just when the administration thought it would be able to name a new dean, the school’s deal with Judge Richard Wesley (2d Cir.) fell through.

When a law school is in the middle of making major cuts all around, you’d figure that the administration would want to keep some people on board who know the ropes — especially the people in charge of admitting new cash cows students. But, apparently, that is not the case in upstate New York….

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