Q&A with Sheldon Krantz, Former Partner at DLA Piper

This week, we have a brief interchange with Sheldon Krantz, who recently published a new book, The Legal Profession: What is Wrong and How to Fix It. Mr. Krantz was a federal prosecutor, law professor, dean of the University of San Diego Law School, partner at DLA Piper for almost two decades, and director of New Perimeter, DLA Piper’s global pro bono affiliate.

Law Firm Mobile: In your book, you say that “[t]he legal professional should be taking the lead in identifying new ways that technology can be used to help clients address their legal problems in more efficient and cost-effective ways.”  What do you feel the role of mobile technologies can play in this regard?

Mr. Krantz:  Much of the smart phone legal apps development up to this point—by firms such as Fastcase—has concentrated on helping lawyers on legal research, scanning, dictation, document retrieval, and filing. It is time to give more attention to developing smart phone apps that help clients and the millions who now handle often complicated legal matters on their own.  We need more apps, for example, that allow lawyers to share information on legal requirements, interactively review documents with clients, and provide advice, training and continuing education on legal matters to others that can’t afford lawyers.

Law Firm Mobile: What do you think about how technology is being integrated into legal education?

Mr. Krantz:  Law schools must devote more time in their course offerings to the use of technology, including mobile technologies, in serving clients or promoting access to justice.  As I point out in my book, only a few schools, led by Georgetown Law Center and Chicago-Kent College of Law, are beginning to do this.  Georgetown, for example, now offers a seminar on Technology, Innovation, and Law Practice.  These schools, however, are in a distinct minority and concentrate on computer-aided, and not mobile phone, technology.  So law schools are way behind the times in the technology area and that is a glaring omission.

Law Firm Mobile: Do you have any other thoughts on mobile technology?

I have one other observation based upon the work I did in southern Africa when I directed New Perimeter, DLA Piper’s global pro bono affiliate.  There are few lawyers in countries like Namibia and Rwanda, particularly in rural areas, but there are millions of people in in these countries who desperately need advice on how to secure their rights when dealing with government agencies; protect their interests in court proceedings; or handle contentious family-related matters—such as domestic violence.  While these millions don’t have access to lawyers or computers, a dramatically increasing number of them do have smart phones.  If the right apps are developed, just think about the potential roles smart phones can play in helping those who have nowhere to turn for assistance now.