October 02, 2018 Message from the Chair

Taking the Lead in Shaping Technology Law

By William B. Baker

Greetings! As your Section Chair for the 2018–2019 bar year, I am pleased to welcome you to this bar year’s initial issue of our outstanding publication—The SciTech Lawyer.

These are exciting and challenging times for lawyers whose practices concern science and technology. Transformative technological changes affect our lives seemingly daily. And recent developments in biotechnology, data privacy, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, emerging medical devices, and many other issues have put significant pressure on existing laws and legal frameworks. This is where we in SciTech come in.

This issue of The SciTech Lawyer focuses on one emerging and highly important area of transformative change: Precision Medicine. You will learn about the NIH “All of Us” program, with its vast potential and deep privacy implications. You will also learn of the potential transformative impact on addressing illnesses and disease and get a glimpse of the emerging regulatory frameworks and related legal and ethical challenges. Not coincidentally, the Section Council in August voted to create a new committee to address the emerging legal issues relating to precision medicine.

Identifying and solving the legal implications of technological change requires knowledgeable, skilled, and creative attorneys. For forty-four years, the Section of Science & Technology Law has been the home for many such lawyers who have shaped the law in many significant ways.

Now it’s our turn. I invite you to take the lead in shaping technology law for the next ten years (and beyond).

Among those changing technology law over the next decade will be younger attorneys. Today’s younger attorneys grew up with the Internet, mobile computer technology, and DNA testing, and increasingly are assuming leadership roles in the legal profession. SciTech is no exception. Our Vice Chair and Secretary both graduated from law school in this millennium, and younger attorneys abound among our new Council members and our new Division and Committee chairs.

SciTech is also experiencing changes in how we deliver information to our members and the world beyond. You already know that our scholarly journal, Jurimetrics, is delivered in electronic format. But did you know that your Section maintains a Facebook page (@ABASciTech), a LinkedIn account (https://www.linkedin.com/in/abascitech), and a Twitter account (https://twitter.com/ABASciTech)? And it is setting up a YouTube channel. Innovative committees are holding webinars and conducting Internet conversations via Zoom and similar offerings.

I should also note that the ABA itself is not exempt from transformative changes. The ABA has devoted much of the past two years to developing a new membership model that will improve the membership experience and create more value. How that will affect the Section is still unclear, but our challenge will be to find opportunity in the changes, just as our clients do when technology changes.

Get off to a good start in this bar year in your own effort to transform technology and science law. And remember that shaping technology law requires a sustained effort. Let’s keep going strong throughout the year.


William B. Baker

William B. Baker is a partner with Potomac Law Group, PLLC in Washington, D.C.