Carolyn Elefant on the disconnect between young lawyers and technology

Open Letter to New Lawyer: You should be dragging me into the 21st century not the other way around

Just out of law school, your skills are of minimal use to me. Nothing you research or write will be worthy of filing without significant oversight and feedback. And that’s okay. Starting out, I wasn’t very useful myself either. But each time my research memos and briefs came back blushing with redline (or back in my day, red ink), I learned just a little bit more about how to craft a solid piece of work product. Within time – a matter of months, (and hours and hours of practice on my own time) – I could soon produce a file-ready document on my own.

These skills are what I’m willing to teach you. It’s part of my professional obligation as a lawyer to see to it that new generations learn the craft. But what I can’t abide is having to teach you how to tweet about current events. How to set up an RSS feed. How to track and stay on top of news from two or three industry blogs. Supposedly, you grew up on this stuff. So why do you need to take instructions from someone old enough to be your mother on how to use tools that should come as second nature? You should be coming to me with a week’s worth of proposed blog posts. You should be streaming out a dozen tweets on industry developments and setting up RSS feeds to share with me – not the other way around. You should have as robust an online footprint as I do, or more – yet I’ve got thousands of blog posts to your…zero? You should be able to figure out, in a snap, how to use video editing tools if you don’t already and volunteering to create cool informational videos so I can market my firm and generate more business that will support more new hires.

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