Book Review: The Legal Technology Guidebook

The Legal Technology Guidebook by Kimberly Williams, John M. Facciola, Peter McCann and Vincent M. Catanzaro. Springer, 2017. 144 pages.

Reviewed by Jonathan Groner

This brief and clearly written book is pitched as an introduction to a wide variety of issues and problems on the frontier of law and technology, and it performs this task quite well. It touches on everything from lawyers’ traditional aversion to technology, to the ethics of using (or failing to use) technology, to e-discovery, to social media, with some legal project management and budgeting thrown in.

Accordingly, it should in no way be viewed as the last word on any of these matters. But for a marketing staff member or for an attorney who seeks a broad and up-to-date overview of the pleasures and pitfalls of technology in the law firm, it’s a good place to start.

The four authors are Kimberly Williams, founder and CEO of consulting firm, RedShift Legal; John M. Facciola, a retired U.S. magistrate judge in the District of Columbia who has been a leading writer on e-discovery; Philadelphia legal consultant and professor, Peter McCann; and Morgan Lewis litigation partner, Vincent Catanzaro. Together, the authors have put together a handbook that is clearly written and occasionally amusing. Here’s one example of writing that is at least a bit memorable for a legal handbook:

And there follows a very relevant discussion of the unfortunate decline in the number of cases that go to trial in the United States and the resulting dearth of opportunities for lawyers to learn their trade by trying cases. This leads to a summary of the current state of the case law on how to authenticate and admit into evidence Web pages, text messages, and social media postings. After all, the authors point out, the Federal Rules of Evidence were drafted to deal with documents printed or typed on paper and in the internet age, the rules do not directly apply to 98 percent of the evidence that is used in court today, since that evidence is electronic.

Ultimately, the whole intellectual framework of this book is the lawyer’s ethical duty to be competent at what he or she undertakes to do for clients. Comment 8 to Rule 1.1 of the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility provides: “To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all [CLE] requirements to which the lawyer is subject.”

In other words, a lawyer who doesn’t have a working understanding of the technology that he or she needs could be considered to fail a basic ethical standard. While legal marketers do not have a similar code of professional responsibility, we know better than most people that technology is part of our job and that we too need to keep abreast of it.

The book contains several appendices of particular interest to the marketing community, including a brief glossary of technical terms, a list of legal technology products on the market, and some sample RFP questions.

By Jonathan Groner, Freelance Writer and Public Relations Consultant, for the First Quarter 2018 LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Newsletter

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