TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Future Of Training Powerful Legal Communicators

Nicholas W. Allard (Former Dean, Brooklyn) & Heidi K. Brown (Brooklyn), The Future of Training Powerful Legal Communicators, NYSBA J., Sept. 2018, p. 10:

Twenty years ago, lawyers communicated through lengthy client opinion letters or settlement demand letters transmitted via fax or FedEx, briefs filed with the court (often hand-delivered by couriers), and perhaps the occasional press release carefully crafted for high profile cases. Today, in our fast-paced, media-saturated, and tech-driven world, we see lawyers like Michael Avenatti advocating for his clients through Twitter soundbites. Pleadings and briefs – once buried in dusty court filing cabinets – are electronically accessible for the world’s review and “Monday-morning quarterback” scrutiny. Attorneys conduct negotiations, conferences, and depositions with their national or even international counterparts over Skype, GoToMeeting, or Zoom. Lawyers establish permanent digital footprints through LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Legal communication is rapidly changing because of technological advances, disruptive business models, and globalism – forces that are transforming the 21st century world of law. The legal profession and legal educators – famously slow and often resistant to adaptation – must evolve with the times. Standing still, clinging to the “business as usual” status quo is not a luxury we can afford. ...

Our profession faces many challenging pedagogical, professional, and ethical issues. These include the different communication preferences and technical prowess of millennial and Generation Z digital natives. These issues further encompass the tension between, on one hand, the expectations of efficiency and immediate response to legal questions in a 24/7 interactive world, and, on the other hand, the fundamentals of professionalism.12 We must carve out space in our legal curricula to inspire students to take the requisite time to research, reflect, and think, and feel empowered to seek advice from more experienced mentors before responding to an assignment or client request. Through this holistic, forward-thinking approach to legal education and professional training, we can reinvigorate our profession and increase the power of law to meet the challenging, rapidly changing needs of society in the 21st century.

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