♫ Even though you’re going through hell
Just keep on going
Let the demons dwell
Just wish them well…♫
Yesterday I taught the first class of the 2014 term on legal technology for the Internationally Trained Lawyer’s Program at the University of Toronto law school. We started the session with everyone giving a bit of background on who there are, where they went to law school, what type of law they practiced in their home country and hope to practice following their call here in Canada and what their background was in technology. They also had to provide one quirky fact about themselves that no one would know which provided a light-hearted fun aspect to the course.
Notwithstanding the humour introduced by the quirky question responses, two factors struck me in listening to the stories of these bright and enthusiastic lawyers…one of which being the challenges and personal sacrifices that they had undertaken in order to cross half the globe and seek qualification here in Canada. The second aspect was how deeply technology has penetrated how we practice law in Canada and the enormity of their task – to not only learn a new legal system but to learn how one interacts with that system using the myriad of tools and technologies available to us.
There is the analogy of the boiling frog – if you put a frog into a pot of hot water, the frog will immediately leap out. But if you put a frog into a pot of cold water and slowly increase the temperature, the frog apparently does not realize what is happening…the frog slowly adjusts to the increase in temperature (ultimately for its detriment…but I digress). The point is that technology has grown up around us to the point where we take it all for granted.
It is only when you are faced with the prospect of learning all that we take for granted that you realize how lawyers in Canada have adjusted to incorporating technology into all that we do. Unfortunately there are still a number of lawyers who do not embrace the benefits of technology and what we can achieve on behalf of our clients by applying technology appropriately. It is sad that some of this group wear the distinction of not knowing how to use technology as some kind of mark of distiction.
It also makes one realize the efficiencies and effectiveness that we have achieved as a result of incorporating technology into the practice of law. We have been through a tremendous period of change from the time of the introduction of the first personal computers into practice. Now with the Internet, collaborative technologies, social media, cloud computing and all the mobile devices from smartphones to iPads and Android devices, we have new and innovative ways to practice from wherever we are with clients that are scattered all over the globe.
I can’t think of a more exciting time to be a lawyer in Canada. I am encouraged and humbled by the determination of those in this cohort to come up to speed with all aspects of how to practice law in Canada. I wish them well!