From a reluctant technologist: For several reasons, this year we’ve instituted in the clinics at the law school an email security program to boot-strap onto school’s email system we’ve been using to communicate with our students. We did this for a few reasons. First, we realized that, once the students are not longer in the clinic, if we continued using their general emails, the confidential client case information in those email accounts will remain in their possession. So, we needed to establish a dedicated email system that would be used exclusively for students’ (and supervisors’) confidential client communications, one that would not follow the students with them when they left the clinic. In addition, these dedicated email addresses can also be used by clients, who are becoming more attuned to the internet and especially email, so they can communicate with their clinic students in a “safe” environment. Finally, these confidential emails are always available to the clinic staff, even after a student leaves the clinic, so that we are able to access this information if it is needed for a case.
I was a reluctant participant in this project, feeling that, and fearing that, I was becoming obsolete, given the myriad of technological interconnections in which we, as lawyers and clinicians, must become not just familiar, or proficient, but outstanding. Also, “Best Practices” for legal practitioners remains open to argument, particularly as the technology, and attempts of outsiders to “invade” these systems, becomes more sophisticated. It seems that, as soon as one advance is made, it becomes obsolete and needs updating. This is difficult to keep abreast with, particularly difficult for law school clinical programs, which often do not have the resources to maintain the continued vigilance that seems required these days.
For now, though, we’re “all set.” Let’s see how long that lasts …
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