‘Smart’ Lawyering: Integrating Technology Competence into the Legal Practice Curriculum


Technology has changed modern law practice. Ethics rules obligate lawyers to understand whether, when, and how to use it to deliver services. But most law schools do not incorporate the so-called “Duty of Technology Competence” into the required curriculum. Despite broad calls for legal education to make students more practice-ready, there is no clear path forward for how to weave this valuable professional skill into coursework for all students. This Article supplies one.

The legal practice course should pair technology competence with traditional legal writing and research work. Lawyers do not draft memos or perform legal research or manage caseloads in a vacuum insulated from modern innovation; clients now demand a more efficient and multi-disciplinary approach that often includes technology. Small changes to the traditional legal practice syllabus can create awareness of technology’s impact on everyday lawyering work and provide students hands-on experience with: (1) Legal Document Proficiency; (2) Legal Research Analytics & Document Integration; (3) E-Discovery; (4) Law Practice Technology; and (5) Data Security.

The skills curriculum must mirror expectations for how twenty-first century lawyers perform fundamental tasks, including new ethical challenges they face and opportunities they have to use tools to create efficient and effective work product. Through concrete classroom examples from mobile lawyering to document automation to cloud computing to judicial analytics, as well as “Technology Spotlight Exercises” available in a collaborative online repository, the reader will walk away with strategies for combining “smart” lawyering skills with traditional coursework for every law student.

Citation: O’Leary, Dyane, ‘Smart’ Lawyering: Integrating Technology Competence into the Legal Practice Curriculum (August 11, 2020).

Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3671632.

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