The Changing Nature Of Legal Services

Thursday, July 1, 2004 - 01:00

Robert L. Duncan, Deputy Publisher
The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel

Most of our readers - certainly those of a certain age, like myself - recall the experience of law school as one where you learned to develop cognitive skills, to analyze and dissect legal issues, and above all to "think like a lawyer." Substantive law was something to be learned following graduation. Dean Michael Fitts of Penn Law School, who appears in the Focus On Philadelphia feature of this month's issue, talks about the enormous body of substantive knowledge law students today are expected to master. And much of this knowledge is interdisciplinary, drawn from a variety of curriculums and disciplines in addition to the law.

Another contributor to this issue, Frank M. Rapoport of McKenna Long & Aldridge, updates us on the progress of the Project BioShield legislation. Significantly, it is a lawyer who is testifying before Congress on the ways in which to bring the pharmaceutical and biotech industries into the development of an ability to meet a terrorist attack using biological agents. Clearly, that lawyer is a bridge connecting an industry that speaks a very different language from that of government. The need to make that connection - to speak more than one language - is something increasingly important to all of us.

Not unrelated to this development is our interview of four partners of Sills Cummis Epstein & Gross on their new book on electronic discovery. Not long ago, few lawyers would have understood the uses of technology, let alone the implications of electronic discovery for the profession.

The one certainty is that the legal profession continues to be a learned profession, one engaged in a perpetual learning process. Long may it be so.