How Tech Will Change Training for Attorneys, Physicians

Kachina Shaw

Higher education in general will certainly look very different within our lifetimes. Global and domestic economic pressures, workforce shifts, and new thinking about the value of education and the burden of debt add up to a system that can’t rely on tradition to keep it strong anymore. And in the most traditional of educational programs, the recognition of the desperate need for -- and the addition of -- technical expertise is starting to shake things up.

Law and medicine are two areas where the need for technology training is getting interesting.

Law school in the U.S. may be on the precipice of enormous changes. A national discussion of whether the traditional three-year graduate law program should be shortened to two years gathered steam last month when President Obama commented that he thought the idea of shortening the J.D. program had merit. Not the least among the benefits would be lower cost for students and the opportunity for more on-the-job experience.

The American Bar Association’s ABA Journal recently profiled Daniel Martin Katz, a law professor who believes that technology skills are sorely lacking in law schools and the legal profession and is taking steps to change that.

Katz co-founded the Reinvent Law Laboratory at the Michigan State University College of Law, where students are exposed to software, design, data and other technology areas. Students are also challenged to think about new service delivery models for clients who are also technologically savvy.

With his background covering expertise in law, tech and design, Katz is a member of a small group of law school faculty with the necessary skills to pass on to law students. If other schools find the needed expertise, they will become “copycats,” Katz tells the ABA Journal.

Writing at KevinMD.com, physician Leslie Kernisan tackles the subject of changes to medical education in the U.S. that are overdue. Many of the items on her list of must-haves are tightly related to communication and attitude shifts, addressing a resistance to change among practicing physicians and, of course, technology. It is telling that she chose this wording to describe the need for technology knowledge among doctors: “Not only do we all need to be able to type, but we’ll need to all be fairly comfortable using technology, because more and more of it will be involved in healthcare.”

Dr. Kernisan sees the best approach as one that begins with new tech training for practicing doctors, since they exert such a strong influence over medical trainees during their programs. In that way, the new skills can be applied immediately in the field and passed to newly graduating doctors at the same time.



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