Rutter & Goodenough on Digital Lawyering in the Law School Curriculum

Brock Rutter, Esq. of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and Professor Oliver R. Goodenough of Vermont Law School and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, will present a paper entitled Digital Lawyering in the Law School Curriculum, at SubTech 2010: The 11th International Conference on Substantive Technology in Legal Education and Practice, to be held 1-3 July 2010, at the University of Zaragoza, in Zaragoza, Spain. Here is the abstract:

Developments in technology have long influenced the substance and practice of law. The advent of relatively cheap printing in the 19th Century, and its application to legal opinions after the decision in Wheaton v. Peters in 1834 was an essential – if underappreciated – factor in the move from aphorisms and treatise quotes to a more sophisticated mode of case analysis in American legal education and practice. The resulting Langdellian revolution, with its close attention to text and appellate opinions, has been dominant in American law schools so long that we take it for granted, but it is the product of a particular level of technological advancement. Computing and other digital technologies are similarly transforming how we practice law and think about legal issues, but these developments have yet to gain widespread acceptance into the law school curriculum. The time is ripe for correcting this omission: law students should be taught about the technologies affecting the legal profession and the effects they bring.

There are pioneering efforts to bridge this gap, a sadly-too-small group of courses focusing on the impact of digital technology to on substantive legal work. We joined this band this past year, and taught a course on digital lawyering at Vermont Law School in the spring of 2010. We are enthusiastic converts to the belief that courses about legal technology and the use of technology by lawyers should be included widely in the law school curriculum. This article will describe the factors that lead us to this conclusion, will outline subjects that could be explored in such courses, and will conclude with observations drawn from our own particular version of such a course. A brief syllabus is included as an appendix. We recognize that we included multiple subject areas that could have merited independent classes. Nevertheless, the fact that the course existed at all represents another foot in the door for teaching technology issues in law school.

For the full text of the paper, please contact the authors.

Thanks to the authors for providing the abstract.

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