Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lawyers May Use The Cloud

According to a BNA Law Week article by Lance Rogers - Caching Client Information in ‘Clouds'
Is Permissible With Proper Precautions - the Iowa bar's ethics committee has ruled that lawyers may store information in the computing cloud. According to Rogers:
Iowa lawyers may store client information and other data on a third-party vendor's servers rather than their own computers, so long as the lawyer has unfettered access to the data and can reasonably verify that sound methods are being used to protect the information...
Iowas attorneys who want to use the cloud must due diligence in choosing a vendor and in examining the terms of the storage agreement.

Putting confidential client information in the hands of third parties has always been a problem. Cloud computing and data storage raise this and other many interesting questions for attorneys. As we move forward into a brave new electronic world the rules of ethical behavior may need to be reconsidered as each new technological advance occurs.

The full article can be found at 80 USLA 715. If you are a Rutgers-Newark Law student you can access the article by going to the Library's main page > Resources > Databases > BNA Web. Scroll down to find US Law Week. The full Iowa ethics opinion can be found here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Law Schools Still Not Teaching Lawyering

Despite the Carnegie and MacCrate reports, the NY Times reports that law schools are still not teaching law students the art of lawyering. Last Sunday's article by David Segal - What They Don't Teach Law Students: Lawyering - is yet another call for a more practice oriented curriculum in law school. The article details the efforts by law firms to teach first year associates how to actually practice law.

According to the article, the old model of having firms teach associates how to practice may be permanently broken:
... for decades, clients have essentially underwritten the training of new lawyers, paying as much as $300 an hour for the time of associates learning on the job. But the downturn in the economy, and long-running efforts to rethink legal fees, have prompted more and more of those clients to send a simple message to law firms: Teach new hires on your own dime.
Clients just won't stand on having an unqualified attorney handle any part of their case:
Last year, a survey by American Lawyer found that 47 percent of law firms had a client say, in effect, “We don’t want to see the names of first- or second-year associates on our bills.” Other clients are demanding that law firms charge flat fees.
Readers of this blog may recall a recent post about value billing. This is a direct result of this kind of client attitude and the need to measure the client's reaction to the firm's rate structure.

The net result? Again, from the article:
The legal services market has shrunk for three consecutive years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Altogether, the top 250 firms — which hired 27 percent of graduates from the top 50 law schools last year — have lost nearly 10,000 jobs since 2008, according to an April survey by The National Law Journal.
This is all part of a discussion that may actually result in some positive change in favor of a more practice oriented curriculum.