Technology has infiltrated every aspect of our lives in some way, including our education. We use electronic resources such as LexisNexis and Westlaw in order find cases and other material. So is this beneficial to us as law students and is this the be all and end all to technology’s involvement in our education and future profession?
The Good and Bad of Electronic Resources
We, unlike our counter parts of old, can find any piece of information at the click of a mouse. This has diminished the tedium of research and allows for multiple students to have access to the same case simultaneously as it is not only in a single location. This has raised our expectations of what to expect from our future employers. We presume that these resources will always be available, but this is not so unless we work for a firm that can afford it. Additionally, some students leave first year unable to use a library, though we go through training.
Social Networking, though distracting, is also a part of this development. We use these websites to keep in contact with each other, to find out what is going on in the faculty and as springboards for ideas. This enables us to form the bond that is entrenched in the ‘Legal Fraternity.’
“Increasing economic pressures on clients have created a new environment where lawyers need to innovate.”In order to keep law relevant we must diversify our skill set or propose different initiatives to develop our skills to cater to changing markets. Ronald W. Staudt recommends two types of tasks in his White Paper on “Leveraging Law Students and Technology To Meet the Legal Needs of Low-Income People”:
Firstly, law students as court house guides, legal aid/hot line intake workers or research assistants providing personal support for legal aid lawyers, low income clients and self represented litigants, and;
Secondly, law students as authors and programmers for new technologies like legal aid statewide websites and self-help document assembly systems.
These are only possible through the interconnecting of the legal profession. It is for law schools and faculties to provide training, employers to supervise and clients to raise problems that need solving. Additionally, all stakeholders may provide suggestions on how the system can improve. So what would you recommend?
Assistant Secretary (2013-2014)