Left behind. For those of us in the legal aid community who paid attention to millennial pop-religious culture some years back (who could avoid the overheated shouting?), you’ll recognize the phrase, perhaps with some bemusement. We weren’t left behind to fend off all manner of tribulations when the clock struck midnight at the turn of the century.
Or were we?
I coined the phrase “technology rapture” for an American Bar Association Equal Justice Conference presentation in, oh, 2005 or so. Having lived here in the deep south for the past 22 years, I have added words and phrases to my vocabulary that previously were rather foreign to me. Rapture is one of those words. My religious culture views the New Testament Book of Revelation somewhat suspiciously, and when it does consider the text, it considers it as a statement of triumph over evil rather than a tale of woe to come. But it is indeed this latter meaning that is significant for the case at hand.
While a number of lawyers just a generation ahead of me consider a fax machine as “technology”, by and large, the legal community truly has embraced a multitude of real and proven technology solutions to improve outcomes for clients and to buttress their business’ financial well-being.
No matter your station, being left behind is always something to be avoided. The jungle adventure straggler gets eaten by lions. The high-heeled woman running from the sci-fi monster invariably trips, falls, screams, and becomes, well, you know, an object. The 1970s Three’s Company star Joyce DeWitt never gets that “if only” film role. You get the point.
Are we pro bono folks in danger of getting left behind? Will our programs’ viability and clients be harmed? Are my rhetorical questions sounding like a Carrie-Bradshaw -Sex –in-the-City intonation? Yes, yes and yes.
I don’t think there is a bright line test for knowing how much technology is enough for our pro bono community, for knowing how much to invest and which solutions are fool-proof . And there is no scale of measure of left-behindedness. I may take a stab at creating such a tool, though, and call it the Monahan Scale of Behindedness.
A case for planning and for action is in order so our clients will not be left behind. Woe to us should we let that happen.