- This month’s newsletter is about technology and the law in times of crisis. You’ve had a legal career that’s touched many aspects of the law, from Deputy Counsel to the Vice President, to Assistant General Counsel in the US House of Representatives, to private practice at several major law firms to adjunct professor at The Charleston School of Law. You came of age as a lawyer during a time of dramatic changes in technology, including the advent of video conferencing, social media and technology-enhanced courtrooms and classrooms. How has that informed your view of the ability of the technology to be a useful tool in every day practice as well as a force of stability in the law during a national crisis such as COVID-19?
Answer: I have always viewed technology as an asset to the practice of law and to case management, partially because I am part of a generation of lawyers who had to quickly adapt to rapidly changing technology and e-discovery standards, beginning in the early 2000s. For example, when I began my law career in New York, I did not have a Blackberry (iPhones did not exist) and we had one “internet station” per floor. In just a few years, associates went from collecting physical files in warehouses to managing e-document collections and reviews. Technological advances have made law practice significantly more efficient.
The recent pandemic has highlighted that our profession can be effective working from nearly anywhere in the world. At our court, which has nationwide jurisdiction and a geographically diverse Bar, technology has allowed us to better serve the public during this challenging time. Our judges continue to maintain and manage active dockets, conduct oral arguments, hold status conferences, preside over Markman hearings, and even conduct trials, all remotely, with counsel appearing from all over the country. Videoconferencing ability has also allowed us to continue ADR efforts, so momentum is not lost.
- Did your view of the role of technology in the law evolve as you transitioned from private sector to public sector, and now to the Court? If so, how?
Answer: My experiences in both the private and public sectors have made me a proponent of ensuring the best technology is available to all employees. Effective leadership and IT personnel who keep pace with technological advances can have a marked, positive effect on any operation, whether in the private or public sector.
- You’ve taught intellectual property law – one of the key jurisdictions of the US Court of Federal Claims. What do you believe that experience will allow you to bring to your role as a judge in the Court?
Answer: Intellectual property is one of my favorite areas of the law. I have always enjoyed it because it is complex, interesting, and usually involves inventors, artists, or other creative people. Having been an IP practitioner for several years, I appreciate the importance of making sure I take the time as a judge to fully understand the technical aspects of a dispute.
- What role does the Bar play in the development and use of technology in the law and the courtroom?
Answer: It is essential to keep in close contact with the Bar and get feedback and suggestions regarding the Court’s technology so that litigants may present their case most effectively.
- What is the role of judges in promoting and using technology in the courtroom generally as well as in times of crisis?
Answer: The last few months have demonstrated the critical importance for the court and its judges to stay up to date on the latest technology. The court’s ability to continue its operations is far better than it was even ten years ago, primarily because the judges opted to invest in technological upgrades. It is the reason we have been able to keep our courthouse “virtually” open and continue to serve the public.
Rapid Fire Round!
- Mac or PC?
- Top-three songs on your Spotify/I-tunes playlist?
- Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (Woodstock Live Version), Cosby, Stills & Nash
- City of Blinding Lights, U2
- Baby Shark (my toddler’s favorite)
- Fells Point or Bourbon Street?
Answer: The music, food, and WWII museum in New Orleans are worth the trip.
- Terrapins, Pelicans or Demon Deacons?
Answer: Go Deacs!
- Stay-at-Home Binge: books or television?