June 01, 2018 Feature

Protecting the Kingdom from Technological Disasters: Horseshoe Nails for the Modern Litigator

Simple tools can prevent large disasters amid rapidly evolving digital technology.

Jean-Marie Crahan | The author is with Gonzalez Law LLC, Milwaukee.

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For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the message was lost.

For want of a message the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for want of a horseshoe nail.

This tale, handed down with many variations over the centuries, teaches us that seemingly small acts or omissions can have devastating consequences. As lawyers, we research, analyze, and develop solutions to help keep our clients from losing their kingdoms for want of a nail. Sometimes we forget, however, that our own kingdoms—our careers, employees, and clients—can be lost for the want of a nail. Nowhere is this truer for lawyers than in the realm of technology.

Technology advances at warp speed as we continue to counsel, advise, and litigate on behalf of our clients. Every day we witness the power that technology gives us to create. It gives us new, exciting, and efficient methods to accomplish our work. It gives us the ability to communicate and collaborate instantly with colleagues and clients around the world, to learn from the comfort of our living rooms, and to file documents instantly by pushing a button. We can use our computing power in our car, at the airport, in restaurants, or at the beach.

Harnessing the power of technology, we practice our profession. We address old familiar issues and we attend to new and unfamiliar ones. As always, attending to the needs of our clients seems to leave no room for anything else. However, unless we relish the feeling in the pit of our stomachs that occurs when we learn a deadline is missed or that privileged information has been made public or that we’ve lost all access to our firm information and client files, we must take the time to analyze and mitigate our technology risk. Indeed, our license to practice is at stake. According to the American Bar Association’s Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1, lawyers are expected to “keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.”

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