Special Guest Post: Barack Obama on National Legal Technology Day

Obama-at-computer

[Editor’s note: It was a major milestone in the legal blogging world when President Barack Obama published a guest post Feb. 24 on SCOTUSblog. Just a day later, he also published a post on LinkedIn. Even with the president’s seemingly newfound interest in contributing to social media, I certainly never imagined that I would get a call from the White House. But when he wanted a platform through which to speak about legal technology, I am honored that he chose this blog. And what better day to publish his guest post than April 1, National Legal Technology Day.]

Michelle and I recently had the opportunity to speak with a lawyer in a small town in my home state of Illinois. This lawyer is still using Windows XP. His only computer is a 2002 Dell OptiPlex with 512 MB of RAM. He is writing legal documents on WordPerfect. That’s right, WordPerfect. The Office 2002 version. His business card still lists a fax number.

Look, in the year 2016, this is unacceptable. As a nation, we must expect more of the legal profession and more of legal technology. This isn’t just about having the latest whiz-bang toys. It’s about driving our economy. It’s about protecting our citizens. It’s about preserving our status as a nation of laws.

We have seen encouraging signs that legal technology is taking hold. During my administration, the number of law firms using practice-management systems has grown significantly. We’ve seen more and more lawyers move to the cloud. Innovative companies are driving advances in how lawyers practice and serve their clients.

But here’s the thing. Lawyers’ adoption of legal technology is not happening fast enough. Plenty of lawyers are still mired in outmoded office systems. Competition suffers. Clients suffer. Our nation suffers. Our challenge now is to do whatever it takes to accelerate development and adoption of legal technology.

How can we do that? I believe we should provide tax cuts for law firms that demonstrate progress in legal technology. As a nation, we want to encourage our lawyers to invest in technology. Through tax incentives, we can do that.

I will also push for high-speed Internet in every law office in America. Once every law office is wired for superfast Internet, there will be new opportunities for cloud-based innovations that can drive greater efficiencies in the practice of law and greater effectiveness in the delivery of legal services.

There’s no reason we can’t do these and more. But it’s time to take this issue seriously and develop a long-term vision for the law office of the future. Look, in 1957, the Soviet Union beat us into space when it launched a satellite known as Sputnik. For the United States, that was a wake-up call that caused us to boost our investment in innovation. You all know how that turned out. Not only did we surpass the Soviets, but we became the world leader in technology and innovation.

Nearly 60 years later, this is the legal profession’s Sputnik moment. Are we going to let the rest of the world’s lawyers outpace us in legal technology? If the recession has taught us anything, it’s that lawyers need to be more efficient in their delivery of legal services. We’ve got to build a new and stronger foundation for the legal profession.

Today, here on Bob Ambrogi’s blog, in observance of National Legal Technology Day, I am announcing that I have asked Vice President Joe Biden to help lead lawyers into the future. I am asking him to chair a special commission on the future of legal technology and to develop specific policies and recommendations, both for the remainder of my presidency and for future generations.

Here’s the thing. Lawyers need to make technology work for them, not against them. With grit and determination, they can do that. They’re already starting to make progress. But we’ve got to build on that progress now, while the economy is still growing.

You can’t tell me that we can’t find the wherewithal to achieve greatness in legal technology. We have to give every lawyer, every day, the shot at success he or she deserves. If our nation’s lawyers are going to remain strong and competitive well into the 21st century, it is time that we as a nation make legal technology a top priority. Together, we can.

Posted in:
Updated:
  • What’s today again? 🙂

    • Bob Ambrogi

      National Legal Technology Day!

      • James Michael McCauley

        Never heard of it, Bob. Is this an April Fool Spoof?

  • ronspdx

    Mr. President, this problem is no April Fool’s Day joke and more equal access to justice through technology is critical. We offer a free service to Americans and Canadians as an appetizer to what more is available at low cost but high value in legal service: Share.AskLegalShield.com/126613009

  • Best National Legal Technology Day guest post on Bob Ambrogi’s blog ever.

  • Thomas R. Bruce

    Bob, I’d just like to say that here at the Legal Information Institute, soon to be renamed the “James Tiberius Kirk Legal Information Institute” in honor of the $50 million grant we received from the estate of the late Gene Roddenberry, we’ve thought about a lot of these problems. We’ve yoked our oxen to the slow-turning windlass of machine learning, and are pumping up next-generation systems to irrigate the dry desert of legal research, even as we use the teaspoons of natural language processing to find and collect the precious indexing terms that will make legal understanding bloom for a new generation of practitioners. We’ve learned to use advanced technologies like “keyboards” and “laser printers” to usher in advanced communication with our constituency, which is using warp-factor-6 technologies like “spreadsheets” and “PDF”. Bob, we’re inspired by the President’s message, and we wish you all the best.

  • Debbie Niesen Foster

    Amazing. LOVE it.

  • Alex Braun

    This is probably the most believable reproduction of B.O.’s writing style I’ve ever seen. Great idea and kudos, Bob.

  • Love this also. Could definitely be true, even if April Fool’s Day.