TITLE: The Key Word is "Thinking" AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: October 05, 2008 8:47 PM DESC: ----- BODY: The Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Roberts, spoke last week at Drake University, which merited an article in our local paper. Robert spoke on the history of technology in the law, and in particular on how the internet is changing in fundamental ways how the law is practiced. He likened the change to that created by the printing press, an analogy I use whenever I speak with parents and prospective CS majors.
The detective work that was important and rewarding when I was starting out is now almost ... irrelevant.
I wonder if this will have an effect on the kind of students who undertake study of the law, or the kind of lawyers who succeed in the profession. I don't imagine that it will affect the attractiveness of the law for a while, because I doubt that a desire to spend countless hours poring through legal journals is the primary motivator for most law students. Prestige and money are certainly more prominent, as is a desire to "make a difference". But who performs best way well change, as the circumstances under which lawyers work change. This sort of transformation is almost unavoidable when a new medium redefines even part of a discipline. Roberts is perhaps concerned about this part of the change himself. Technology makes information more accessible, which means skill in finding it is no longer as valuable. How about skill at manipulating it? Being able to find information more readily can liberate practitioners, but only if they know what to do with it.
There's a lot of value in thinking outside the box. But the key word is "thinking". ... You cannot think effectively outside the box if you don't know where the box is.
I love that sentence! It's a nice complement to a phrase of Twyla Tharp's that I wrote about over three years ago: Before you can think out of the box, you have to start with a box. Tharp and Roberts are speaking of different boxes, and both are so right about both boxes. -----