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A select group of New York Law School students will soon begin a unique, hands-on course in the practicalities of cyberlaw designed to make young lawyers extremely attractive to law firm recruiters, typically of the technophobic generation. In September, the school’s Institute for Information Law and Policy is launching a Certificate of Mastery in Law Practice Technology as an honors program for those who demonstrate proficiency in such matters as electronic litigation, online transactions and the latest in courtroom technology. The two-year certificate program can take up to two years and has room now for as many as 10 students. In terms of cutting edge technology, “law firms rely on their new hires to tell them what’s going on out there,” said New York Law Professor David Johnson, a pioneer in cyberlaw during his decades of practice at Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr in Washington, D.C. “Law schools are generally focused on substantive issues and tend not to emphasize things that are useful, like electronic discovery tools to find those smoking-gun e-mails,” he said. Mastery certificates will be given in elective areas including: � Creation of a complex Web site or blog; � Electronic discovery/evidence analysis; � Case-mapping software creation; � Use of audio, video and graphics tools in electronic courtroom presentation; � Document assembly software creation; � Cross-firm online deal room systems creation; � Software creation for electronic licensing, corporate governance and practice management; � Online dispute resolution; � Bringing governmental institutions online. NEW PROBLEM-SOLVING TOOLS “Central to the job of a lawyer is problem solving,” said Professor Beth Simone Noveck, director of the Institute for Information Law and Policy. “That means being able to use software code as well as legal code. What we’re trying to do is train a new generation of lawyers who can translate between these worlds, and use technology as another tool for solving clients’ problems.” Chun Li will be among the certificate program students this fall. Li, who before enrolling at New York Law worked as a computer programmer for Goldman Sachs and the U.S. Coast Guard, now works for the New York Stock Exchange as a litigation analyst. “I want to put my programming background together with the law,” said Li, 30, who is in his third year of a four-year evening schedule. Attracted to New York Law because of the institute begun four years ago by Noveck, Li gained practical experience that landed him the Wall Street job. “I’m sort of the go-to person whenever there’s a technology question on some aspect of law,” he said. Like Johnson, Noveck has long been involved in both technology and the law. She is the former chief executive officer of Bodies Electric, a Manhattan-based software and global communications firm. As a student at Yale Law School, she completed the nation’s first formal class in cyberlaw. Together, Noveck and Johnson invented the New York Law certificate program. With reference to Johnson’s years at Wilmer Cutler, she said of their fall project, “This is coming from a leading practitioner in e-commerce and cyberlaw who says that it’s been his experience that the profession needs more graduates who can do the things we’ll be teaching.” FAST-CHANGING PRACTICE In the 1980s, so-called computer law became Internet law, by which time Johnson was intellectually hooked. “What I love about the practice area is that it changes rapidly, presenting all the core legal issues but always in a new light and context that forces you to think back to fundamental principles,” said Johnson. “And after all, the purpose of a legal education is to lay the framework for a lifetime of learning.” Applying technology to legal principle, he said, profoundly enriches the profession. “The common wisdom used to be that lawyers couldn’t even type, but then [law firms] started distributing computers to everybody, and it soon became obvious that lawyers who wrote their own documents were more productive,” said Johnson. With the advent of Internet communication, he added, “Everybody realized they could talk to their clients and each other much more. And the whole profession has changed.” Client businesses have changed, too. “There isn’t any industry that doesn’t rely on technology in some way,” said Noveck. “For lawyers, having a 21st-century literacy in this area is essential.” For example, she said, a team of lawyers working on a major trial might have a natural divide between older attorneys dreaming up rhetorical flourishes and younger lawyers in litigation support thinking in terms of electronic maps and movies. Johnson said technology might ultimately — and ironically — bridge that assumption of a generational divide. “Some of the most innovative lawyers are the ones who were around in the early days, when computers were just becoming available,” he said. “They have a sense of excitement about what’s possible, as opposed to students who grew up with the Web.”

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