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Alextronic Discovery
An Electronic Discovery Blog covering News, Articles
and Thoughts for the Legal and Corporate Community Author: Alexander H. Lubarsky, LL.M., Esq. - alubarsky@enterusa.com - Tel. (415) 533-4166 OR 800-375-4222 THIS BLAWG IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE WEB SITES WWW.DISCOVERYRESOURCES.ORG OR WWW.DISCOVERYRESOURCES.COM


Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The Re-education of a Litigator 2B  

The Re-education of a Litigator 2B

Paul Simon once sang in poignant unison with Garfunkel the following truism:

"When I look back on all the crap I learned in high school, It's a wonder I can think at all."

Take the average new litigator and substitute the word "high" for "law" and the truism remains as valid today as it was in the sixties.

I have been asked to revise the syllabus for the litigation courses I teach throughout various schools and programs in the Bay Area.

I insisted on devoting several classes and at least one assignment to the understanding of electronic discovery. This endeavor provoked some skull scratching at best.

I found that wills and trusts proved to be about as useful to me as a practitioner as was high school calculus. The closest the law schools and paralegal schools come to teaching ED is in the evidence course where in some schools, the way that certain tenets of evidence have been transformed by how electronic evidence (particularly, attorney-client e-mail communications) have changed the way that privilege and hearsay is viewed.

Beyond that, legal education remains steeped in tradition a la "paper chase".

Even when law students and paralegal students have tackled their dreaded required courses are finally permitted to "venture out" and enroll in courses of their own choosings, very few schools offer instruction beyond the not-so-freebie Lexis or Westlaw account.

A few forward thinking schools such as Cornell, Vanderbilt, U of Florida and Duke reportedly are offering law office application courses, yet they tend to focus on internet legal research, Word and WordPerfect tips and tricks (using the pleading wizards and the table of authorities generators) and some Timeslips and Summation and Concordance introductory classes. (CaseMap and TimeMap are being introduced in a few of these programs).

The bigger issue is that litigators are being thrust into the "real world" where ED issues are staring them down from every angle and these young attorneys and paralegals are ill equipped to respond to such challenges.

I have heard from many of the students that attend my web casts that they wished such were taught in the law schools. Many attendees have reported back to me, flattering me with their renditions of "war stories" in which they were able to put some ED strategy to use on behalf of their client. Without exception, the student laments that his or her fellow students are not likely to develop such skills at school.

What will it take to see a trend aiming to integrate ED and other essential technologies into the curriculum of legal and paralegal educational institutions?

It is hard to venture a real good guess here, however a collective voice would be a good starting point. Perhaps a petition could be circulated to members of AAFPE (American Association for Paralegal Education) and the National Associations of Law School Professors advocating the long overdue shift away from pure tradition and towards a more practical and modern curriculum.

Alextronic is interested to hear from professors and students on this particular issue. What are the greatest challenges to curriculum incorporation of ED and other practice and technology disciplines? Do you think that the educational institutions will continue to move forward at a snail's pace? Do you think that an undercurrent of change can grab the attention of the appropriate administrators. Is it any wonder that you can think at all?

posted by Alexander | 1:49 AM

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