MBA partners with The Warren Group for legal technology conference

Issue October 2013 By Cassidy Murphy

In the lush, Old Boston environs of the Omni Parker Hotel, today's lawyers got a sneak peak at the future of technology in the legal profession.

The Massachusetts Bar Association, in partnership with The Warren Group, publisher of Lawyers Journal, presented Legal Trends, the first annual legal technology conference, at the hotel on Monday, Sept. 17.

Featuring keynote addresses from Judge Nancy Gertner and noted criminal defense attorney John H. Cunha Jr., the well-attended seminars were full of informative presentations and networking opportunities.

"Judge Gertner's comments were a fascinating reminder of how and why we should have a diminished expectation of privacy," said MBA Vice President Martha Rush O'Mara, who was in attendance. "Our cell phones allow us to be tracked at any given moment. If you want to maintain your privacy, leave your cell phone at home and do not have your picture taken or posted by friends, relatives or colleagues."

Gertner spoke about the "surveillance society in which we find ourselves," drawing parallels to George Orwell's 1984, noting that while "we're not quite there yet, it is worrisome."

Addressing three major points - that "reasonable expectation of privacy" is too vague in today's world, that "physical records" are a thing of the past, and that the Fourth Amendment does not protect "non-content" - Gertner warned that "our constitutional protections have been dissolving for some time." She also noted that she believes "we are not yet over the brink," and can recover from the erosions of privacy rights in America's laws.

Cunha covered the science behind cell phone technology and how its evidentiary uses are often based on erroneous assumptions. He called on those present to challenge commonly held beliefs about cell phone use, technology and location features. He also remarked that while it may be difficult, "We must stop governmental interference in our lives, particularly in a world where [young] people have no expectation of privacy at all."

The conference also featured seminars addressing cloud computing and informed decisions, the cost of e-discovery, focused digital marketing for attorneys, and evidence collection in the mobile age.

Event partners also included the New Hampshire Bar Association, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, LOMAP Massachusetts and the Women's Bar Association.