August 21, 2018
The ‘Law’ Every Attorney Must Know
by Lewis Fein
Legal curricula are rigid, but technology is not. Lawyers need to come to grips with the constant disruption caused by Moore's law.
If lawyers are to represent insurers, if they are to be counselors in the fullest sense of the word, if they are to anticipate and answer questions of the highest importance, they must understand how technology continues to transform the insurance industry as a whole.
They must not simply be aware of a few codicils and a minority of codes. They must be conversant with, so they can call and examine witnesses who are fluent in, the technology that influences everything from actuarial science to sales.
I write these words as someone who has a law degree. Thus, I know how rigid legal curricula are versus how dynamic technology is. One predates computers, smartphones and tablets, save the ceremonial kind outside a courthouse, while the other has an increasingly short lifespan—its debut is also its death, because the one law not on the books is the law every lawyer should learn.
I refer to Moore’s law. From careful observation of an emerging trend, Gordon Moore extrapolated that computing would dramatically increase in power, and decrease in relative cost, at an exponential pace.
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According to Wayne R. Cohen, a professor at George Washington University School of Law and a partner at Cohen & Cohen, Moore’s law is crucial to how lawyers and insurers work together. He says:
“More laws are not the solution to Moore’s law. What we need instead are competent lawyers who can advise insurers and be advocates for the rights of the insured, but within the changing technological landscape.”
I agree with Cohen’s point for several reasons. First is the health of the insurance industry. Insurers cannot succeed without lawyers to advise them, unless they want to issue policies that will compound their liabilities and weaken their ability to survive.
Second, we cannot forfeit 2.7% of gross domestic product (GDP), or $507.7 billion, because a majority of lawyers cannot write the language necessary for insurers to underwrite the policies that consumers want to buy and that employers need to purchase. To repeat: We cannot have the innumerate or the technologically illiterate endorse what they do not know and cannot read, as if they were to register their approval by drawing an uppercase X on the signature line of a document, in lieu of confessing their own shortcomings.
Third, unless insurers raise the technoloy issue with law schools or until the American Bar Association (ABA) raises the bar of competency, so to speak, new lawyers will find it difficult to get work and pay down their student loans.
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Let insurers be agents of change. Let them be agents that not only sell policies but help set public policy. Let them reach a verdict—let them issue a ruling as binding as any legal precedent—that is too decisive to reverse and too clear to reject.
Lawyers who join this movement will inspire their colleagues to follow suit. They will be at the vanguard of law, technology and insurance. Their actions will ensure the safety of all we seek to insure.