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February 5, 2010

Technology in practice

Over the decade I have been teaching, I have seen the way my students communicate with one another change profoundly, and I have (more slowly) adapted to these changes.  Instead of email and phone calls, now we have texts and tweets.  The essence of the change is that the new formats are more efficient and convey information more concisely, with a potential loss of content.

Many of us have been critical of this change and the way that it affects our students' writing and interpersonal skills which relate to the legal profession.  But, need we be so critical?  If these methods of communication are becoming part of the legal profession, as well, we need to acknowledge that a good text to a client may be a key to success, and embrace appropriate use of this technology.

The missing link of information (as too often is true in the legal academy) is knowledge of what is happening in practice.  Do lawyers text their clients?  If so, in what contexts?  I would imagine that the efficiency of texting would be great for, say, rescheduling matters with a court.  Does this happen in practice?

If texting is going to play a role in legal practice, we need to be discussing and exploring the limits and dangers of this form of communication, the same way we do with other forms.

-- Mark Osler

February 5, 2010 | Permalink


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A wise and insightful position. As with the printing press and even writing itself (the latter was a real worry for poor Socrates), this communications revolution will yield great benefits. It will also cause huge problems and no doubt some losses as well. This is one of the many reasons we should teach our students to "think meta" about media, instead of simply training them for success in one medium as if no other medium is worth serious consideration.

Clay Shirky's post on "Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable" has some interesting thoughts along these lines: http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/03/newspapers-and-thinking-the-unthinkable/.

Posted by: Gardner Campbell | Feb 15, 2010 8:57:00 AM

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