Morris Institute for Justice LogoThis Friday provides an opportunity to hear from two legal experts who are also terrific presenters. It all happens on the afternoon of May 16, when Lynda Shely and Patricia Sallen speak on ethics issues and technology.

The three-hour presentation is titled “30 Ethics Tips Before Using Any Technology” and isoffered by the William E. Morris Institute for Justice on Friday, May 16, from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. It is co-sponsored by Lewis Roca Rothgerber

The event will also be live simulcast to Tucson.

Lynda Shely is an attorney at the Shely Firm PC, and Patricia Sallen is Director of Special Services and Ethics/Deputy General Counsel of the State Bar of Arizona.

The in-person presentation will be at:

Lewis Roca Rothgerber

201 East Washington Street, 3rd floor

Phoenix, AZ 85004

 

The live simulcast can be viewed at:

Lewis Roca Rothgerber

1 South Church Ave., Suite 700

Tucson, AZ 85701

 

As the Institute says, “The CLE fee is a $150 donation to the Institute (paid in advance or at the door), of which $50 may be tax deductible. The Institute qualifies for the ‘working poor tax credit.’”

RSVP by May 13 to Ellen Katz at eskatz@qwestoffice.net or 602-252-3432 ext. 2, or register online by making your $150 donation through the MIJ website (click “Donate to MIJ”).

your-code-it-sucks-thumb

So what if my code sucks. We’re not all coders now, are we? Are we?

Yesterday, I sat in on a State Bar CLE that asked the intriguing question, “The end of law firms?”

The answer (spoiler alert): They live still, but they’re on the emergency-room gurney.

The speaker was attorney Mark Lassiter, whom I’ve covered before. He has added to his already substantial presentation, so if you’ve seen one, you certainly haven’t seen them all. And he will be speaking at this June’s Bar Convention too, where he promises even more compelling new content on the topic.

Mark is certainly not the only person nationally announcing the decline of traditional law firms. But he’s doing his darnedest to be the Arizona guy most associated with the notion. And his takeaway is that though law firms are not dead, they’re certainly coughing up blood. And the solution, he suggests, lies in a combination of robust online systems and in-person collaborations that are project-specific.

Mark Lassiter speaks at the State Bar of Arizona, Feb. 11, 2014.

Mark Lassiter speaks at the State Bar of Arizona, Feb. 11, 2014.

As I listened to his assessment and his complex prescription for improvement, I was reminded of a class I took in ninth grade. (Bear with me.)

Back at LaGrange Junior High in 1977 (go ahead; do the math), I was slotted into a computer programming class—not for any special skill I demonstrated, but as part of a required curriculum. And that’s where I learned quite a bit—not about computer programming, at which I clearly sucked, but about the deep misunderstanding we may have about the speed of change in technology.

Assigned to learn BASIC and COBOL, I struggled to remember where and how to insert my left and right carats (just days after learning that there were left and right carats). As I sweated and erred, my teacher simply shook his head in disappointment. I always eventually completed my assigned programs, which ran and executed whatever the hell they were supposed to execute. But my code was littered with crappy detritus. An elegant coder, I was not.

My teacher took my failures as an opportunity to tell the whole class:

“In the future, computers are going to be much more widely used at jobs. And do you know who will get to use computers? The people who can program. You may think BASIC and COBOL are hard now. But if you don’t learn them, you will never be able to use a computer. And you will be left behind.”

I was too inexperienced to recognize a nebbish when I saw one (he was a tool with a tool), and so I took as gospel truth this hare-brained idea: That unless you understood the underlying technology implicitly, you would be unable to make use of it.

COBOL: Yeah, I don't get it either. So I went into law.

COBOL: Yeah, I don’t get it either. So I went into law.

Of course, that has never been true. How many of us could teach a class on telephony? But how many are able to use a telephone?

And so as I sat in the Bar’s CLE center, I mused on what drives lawyers, and on whether their reputation for stubbornness is deserved.

Remember, we’re told often that lawyers resist change. We’re lectured that attorneys are trying to cling to old unsustainable practices that will leave them forever in the dust.

Understand, Mark Lassiter does not say these things. But the tone hovering over national conversations about the legal profession’s future creates a straw man of a toddler-like attorney population, fingers in ears, refusing to learn new skills.

That national tone continues that if lawyers do not learn these new skills, they will never be able to flourish again. In fact, they may starve.

Welcome back to ninth grade, I think. Time to call b.s. on that.

The fact of the matter is that some folks—like Mark Lassiter—are eager to create and use complex online tools. They will profit; they will flourish.

Computer geniuses laugh when I say I struggled with BASIC. Who's laughing now? (Oh yeah. They are.)

Computer geniuses laugh when I say I struggled with BASIC. Well, who’s laughing now? (Oh yeah. They are.)

Meantime, most other attorneys—hell, most people—are not pioneers and early adopters. But that does not make them troglodytes.

So we have the pioneers who want to be involved in the construction of the actual tools and systems. But there are far more other lawyers who simply want to use those tools, but have no interest in fashioning them out of clay and iron themselves. They are not resisting; they are eager for the day (soon!) when these tools are commonly available, downloadable, and comprehensible to the lawyer focused on law rather than technology.

In an upcoming post, I will write about some of the content Mark shared in his helpful CLE. But in the meantime, let me add: The technology will get easier, omnipresent, and off-the-shelf usable. Those of us whose focus is torts (for instance) and not tech will be able to use it, run a practice and make a living. Many if not most of us will benefit and prosper.

Except my ninth-grade computer teacher. He can go pound salt.

trend spotting imageThis past week, I tried to catch up on the mini-avalanche of “new trends for a new year” blog posts that spring up as New Year’s approaches. I’ll share one today—regarding technology—and probably follow up with a few more general ones later.

Attorney at Work spoke with a few experts nationwide on what law practice technology is most noteworthy right now. Their experts each identified a key development as well as a favorite tool.

They are all worth reading, but the ever-educational Jim Calloway of the Oklahoma Bar pointed to a key development that involves law schools:

“A few law schools are starting to focus on teaching technology and innovation, from Professors Katz and Knake organizing ReInvent Law Laboratory at Michigan State to LoyolaLawTech to Prof. Bill Henderson at Indiana University giving a class assignment to profile legal disruption companies. We are going to see more new lawyers who ‘get it.’”

I’m sure local boosters would love to have seen some Arizona law schools included in his list. Do you know of local examples of law schools using technology in striking ways?

Meantime, I was struck when I compared the expert’s views with some of Arizona Attorney’s own “Visions From the Law Office,” which we published in our October 2013 issue. Read the views of Arizona lawyers here.

October 2013 Arizona Attorney Magazine coverIf your office is anything like ours, you’re deep into planning for 2014. Budgets, tools, hardware, software, goals, strategy: All of these and more are up for consideration.

That’s one of the reasons we dedicate a lot of our October issue pages to practice management software. That tool—what we call PMS—truly has become the engine that drives law practice.

It was the cover story in the October Arizona Attorney Magazine. You can start reading here.

If you’re busy, you may want to jump to what we fondly call The Big List. That’s where the rubber hits the road, software-wise.

Our coverage written by Susan Traylor also should be on your must-read list. And I would add to that a useful FAQ over at The Lawyerist. Here, Sam Glover answers some of your compelling PMS questions in a concise blog post.

What is working in your office? Have you gone to the cloud and are loving it? Or has it been more nightmarish than that?

Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Martin Cooper, chairman and CEO of ArrayComm, holds a Motorola DynaTAC, a 1973 prototype of the first handheld cellular telephone, on April 2, 2003, in San Francisco. The device is 10 inches long and weighs 2.5 pounds.

Call me! Martin Cooper, chairman and CEO of ArrayComm, holds a Motorola DynaTAC, a 1973 prototype of the first handheld cellular telephone, on April 2, 2003, in San Francisco. The device is 10 inches long and weighs 2.5 pounds.

Did you sense it? Lawyers, could you feel the significance of this week in history?

If not, it may because you were busy using your Smartphone and so completely missed a remarkable anniversary: Mobile phones have been around for 40 years.

Granted, the devices you may have hefted four decades ago may not bear any resemblance to the iPhone you pocket today, but the birthday is still real.

Here is how newspapers described the anniversary: “This week in 1973, using a prototype Motorola DynaTac, inventor Martin Cooper made the first call on a mobile phone. Forty years later, it’s considered a brick compared with the diminutive devices we carry around.”

Brick is right.

Click through for more photos of mobile phones throughout history, including some with the utterly charming Cooper bearing his cutting-edge technology.

More news on the topic, and smile-inducing clips from movies and TV, are here. Have a great, phone-filled weekend.

The State Bar’s electronic newsletter dedicated to technology items has just come out in its winter 2013 issue. As I’ve mentioned before, this quarterly news source provides a wide variety of headlines on topics that may affect your law practice.

State Bar of Arizona eLegal Technology NewsletterAmong the stories is a lead item on addressing the digital accounts of the dead.

If you’re interested in the topic, you should turn to the current Arizona Attorney, where Rex Anderson writes on digital assets in estates.

And while you’re at it, do you like how we transformed this month’s Facebook profile picture for Arizona Attorney? The image is below (click to make it bigger and look closely). (We like to change the image every month depending on our cover story.)

Facebook profile picture for Arizona Attorney Magazine March 2013

My plan for today was to describe a fascinating movie that will be screened tomorrow night (Thursday). But then I stayed up far too late watching every possible election return (“Don’t turn it off! The Snohomish County School Board votes are being tallied!”). Democracy can be exhausting. And so, instead, the film update will come tomorrow. Today, I offer you some news from right here in the State Bar news world.

Here are two developments that could help improve your access to legal information.

Did you know:

State Bar of Arizona eLegal Technology Newsletter

Gotta go; the recount for the Artichoke, Minnesota, justice of the peace race is heating up. See you tomorrow.

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