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The End of the Profession as we Know It?


This week's Daily Record column is entitled "It's Not a Perfect System, But it Works"

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.


“It is from clients that we can glean probable trends in the legal market. It is client demand for new working practices and new efficiencies that will ultimately incline law firms to adopt new technologies. A few innovative and entrepreneurial firms will lead the way with some emerging systems. But most will wait to be nudged or dragged by their clients into 21st century legal practice.”

Many lawyers may be unwilling to face the music, but the legal profession is undergoing a dramatic transformation even as you read this.

I’ve believed that fact to be true for some time, and was thrilled to hear Richard Susskind’s brilliant keynote speech at the ABA’s TechShow on April 2 in Chicago.

Susskind is a technology guru who specializes in legal technology and has spent much of his career studying technology trends, predicting how they will
affect the legal profession. He’s written a number of books examining those
issues, including “The Future of Law” (OUP, 1996), “Transforming the Law” (OUP, 2000) and, most recently, “The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature
of Legal Services” (OUP 2008).

His recent keynote speech focused on his latest book and, for me, was the highlight of the TechShow. His main points resonated with me and it was wonderful to hear him speak of, and give credence to, many of the very issues I’ve been mulling over
in the past year. Even better: He gets it —he really gets it!

The main point of Susskind’s speech was his premise that the legal field is undergoing a fundamental change that will affect the vast majority of legal practice areas. He specifically noted that litigation practices will be least affected by technological changes due to the very nature of the practice, since litigation matters, including criminal defense, are very fact specific. Further, litigating attorneys must necessarily appear in court and it is unlikely that requirement will change any time soon.

According to Susskind, the major drivers of the changes are the technological advances now occurring at an unprecedented and exponential rate. Susskind explained that the world has changed in ways we couldn’t have envisioned just 10 years ago.

He further opined that the legal field is not immune from the changes, despite repeated attempts of practitioners to stick their collective heads deeply into the sands of time.

As Susskind aptly noted, lawyers relish the idea of looking backward, not forward. Lawyers cling to precedent —“the way it’s always been done” —even as the rickety old lifeboat that always kept them afloat is falling apart, and is being replaced by better, more advanced flotation devices.

The legal field is changing —not, will change. Technology’s momentum cannot be stopped, nor can the end result of the momentum be predicted accurately.

Many naysayers doubt that  prophecy, and demand explicit predictions regarding the ways in which the practice of law will change. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict exactly where technology will take us, nor is there any reason to do so. The more intelligent among us will make it a point to stay on top of technological advances, and will be at the forefront of changes as they occur.

Those who make change work for their law practices will profit and survive. Those who ignore it, quite simply will not, and will fade away, not unlike the dinosaurs that were unable to adapt to rapid change.

If you choose to adapt, then I highly recommend you buy Susskind’s latest book, “The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services.” You’ll find a blueprint for the future of the legal field that will help you to navigate the technological revolution that already is underway.

The choice is yours to make: Will your law practice sink or swim in the turbulent river of technological change?

Will you adapt, or will you go the way of the dinosaurs?

The New York Legal Blog Round Up

Blawgs It's the beginning of a new week and time for the weekly round up of posts from my fellow New York legal bloggers:

Juz the Fax:

New York Court Watcher:

New York Injury Cases Blog:

Rochester Bankruptcy and Debt Relief:

The Elliot Schlissel New York Law Blog:

Wait a Second!:

Define That Term #316

Dictionary_2 Last week's term was estoppel in pais, which is defined as:

equitable estoppel: A type of estoppel that bars a person from adopting a position in court that contradicts his or her past statements or actions when that contradictory stance would be unfair to another person who relied on the original position. For example, if a landlord agrees to allow a tenant to pay the rent ten days late for six months, it would be unfair to allow the landlord to bring a court action in the fourth month to evict the tenant for being a week late with the rent. The landlord would be estopped from asserting his right to evict the tenant for late payment of rent. Also known as estoppel in pais.

No one guessed this time around.

Today's term is:

promissory estoppel.

As always, educated guesses are welcome, but dictionaries are not.

The New York Legal News Round Up

Latest_news It's a lovely, snowy Wednesday in April (!), and time for the round up interesting New York law-related news headlines from the past week:

It's Not a Perfect System, But it Works


This week's Daily Record column is entitled "It's Not a Perfect System, But it Works"

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.


It's Not a Perfect System, But it Works

“Justice is the tolerable accommodation of the conflicting interests of society, and I don’t believe there is any royal road to attain such accommodation concretely.”

Last week, the Communications Committee of the Monroe County Bar Association sponsored “Law Over Lunch,” a program designed to facilitate discussion between
lawyers, judges and media outlets regarding the criminal justice system and the participants’ respective roles in the process.

I had the pleasure of moderating the event with Bill Taylor, an attorney with Monroe County who also is a former Monroe County Assistant District Attorney.

The panel consisted of New York State Supreme Court Justice Frank Geraci, Irondequoit Town Court Justice John DiMarco, Monroe County District Attor-
ney Michael C. Green, Second Assistant Public Defender Jill Paperno and Lawrence Andolina, a partner at Trevett, Cristo, Salzer & Andolina. Many members of various local print, radio and television media outlets were also present.

A theme that became evident from the very start was the obviously conflicting interests of the parties in attendance.

Despite the apparently disparate viewpoints, however, a lively discussion and exchange of ideas ensued.

The judges were concerned primarily with upholding their ethical obligations and maintaining order in their courtrooms. They urged members of the media to assist them in keeping certain information about pending cases confidential, as required by statute.

The attorneys focused on their ethical obligations to represent zealously the interests of their clients —in the case of the District Attorney, the People of the State of New York. They explained that their interactions with the press or lack thereof, in some cases —were largely controlled by statutory mandates and their overriding concern for the duty owed to their clients.

Members of the press, likewise, were concerned with their ethical obligation to report the news as accurately as possible, a task that becomes all the more difficult when those who possess the vast majority of information on a pending criminal case refuse to share it. Accordingly, some journalists expressed frustration about the
lack of information shared with or made available to them.

Interestingly, one issue on which the majority of participants could agree is that cameras should be allowed in the courtroom. Many panelists opined that proceed-
ings would be unaffected as long as a presiding judge exercised tight control over his or her courtroom.

One panelist’s argument in favor of allowing proceedings to be televised is that doing so actually would allow the press to obtain a great deal of information
without having to directly question the attorneys involved, whose responses necessarily would be limited due to ethical guidelines.

Another panelist expressed the concern that cameras in the courtroom might discourage civilian witnesses from testifying accurately, or at all, thereby negatively
affecting a trial’s outcome.

Overall, the program was a success. The panelists provided valuable information about the criminal justice system, its procedural mechanisms and its inner workings. 

Hopefully, the open and genuine dialogue that resulted from the round table discussion will serve to remind participants of the differing, but valid perspectives of everyone who participates in the process. While their interests sometimes may conflict, ultimately their goals are the same —the protection of liberty and the pursuit of justice.

The New York Legal Blog Round Up

Blawgs It's the Monday following an awesome ABA TechShow in Chicago--and time for the weekly round up of posts from my fellow New York blawggers:

New York Criminal Defense:

New York Public Personnel Law:

Rochester Family Lawyer:

Second Opinions:

Simple Justice:

The Elliot Schlissel New York Law Blog:

Wait a Second!:

Define That Term #315

Dictionary_2 Last week's term was specification, which is defined as:

In patent law, the narrative portion of a patent application, which includes descriptions of the purpose, structure and operation of the invention, as well as a discussion of any relevant prior art. Essentially, the specification must provide enough information about the invention so that a person proficient in the area of expertise involved in the invention could build and operate it without having to be overly creative.

No one guessed this time around.

Today's term is:

estoppel in pais.

As always, no dictionaries.

New Lawyer Ethics Code Now in Effect in New York

Checkmark A new code of conduct for attorneys went into effect yesterday in New York.  Be aware of the changes.

This article summarizes some of the changes.  From the article:

Differences between the old code and the new rules largely concern the more expansive definitions provided in the new guidelines, according to Krane.

For instance, the new code declares that conflict waivers must be the product of informed consent confirmed in writing. "Informed consent," "confirmed in writing" and "writing" are all defined in the new rules, Krane noted...

Professor Stephen Gillers of New York University School of Law said another major change is the abandonment of the way the code treated instances where lawyers discovered that their clients had provided false information to a court or another tribunal. The expiring code treats disclosure of confidential information by the lawyer, even to correct a wrong against another party in litigation, as a violation of attorney-client privilege.

Under the new rules, the state has adopted the ABA model rules provision that a lawyer is required to disclose a false representation by a client, either intentional or unintentional, to the court in any criminal or civil matter.