President's Page March 2001 Moving Forward in the Internet Age
The Association has outlined a series of steps to more fully integrate our Internet activities
By Rex S. Heinke
Rex S. Heinke is president of the Association. His e-mail address is email@example.com
This President's Page was originally published in the March 2001 issue of Los Angeles Lawyer.
We all know that the Internet is transforming our lives in many ways. At the Installation Dinner held last June for the Association's 2000-2001 officers, I spoke in depth about the need to move the Los Angeles County Bar Association forward in making use of the Internet to serve our members better. Since then, we have met some of the goals we announced at that time, and we have established new ones.
One goal we have met is to hire a new full-time Web publisher and editor to direct our Internet activities. Mike Rohla (firstname.lastname@example.org) joined the Association staff in August. Since then he has been busy reconstructing our Web site visually and technologically. This newly reconstructed Web site should be operational by the beginning of this month. (The existing Web site will continue to operate until the new one is completed.) We look forward to your comments on the revamped Web site.
We have also been (and continue to be) busy soliciting you to send your e-mail addresses to the Association. Our list of e-mail addresses is growing rapidly, but we still need to hear from those of you who have not sent them in. If you have not done so, please send your e-mail address to email@example.com. We are using your addresses to distribute information more quickly and inexpensively through e-mailed listservs. (You can be assured that your e-mail addresses will only be used in the conduct of LACBA business and are not being made available to third parties without your consent.)
Our New Goals
We have also established two new goals this year: 1) extending the use of Internet technology in new and inventive ways to better serve you, and 2) creating a focal point for the coordination of knowledge about substantive Internet legal issues. The first goal will help us to address a continuing problem: how to deliver our programs to all our members when they are found at such far-flung locations as Long Beach, Antelope Valley, Pomona, and Santa Monica. We already have developed some programs that are available by teleconference. In addition, we have about 15 programs that can be accessed through online audio on our existing Web site (with printed materials available). We will be experimenting with Webcasting and more teleconferencing to help further alleviate this problem. We also hope to offer programs that will provide members with opportunities for simultaneous participation in real time as well as more stored programs that can be accessed 24/7 by anyone with Internet access, anywhere in the world, at their convenience.
Our second new goal has emerged because of the recent explosion in decisional law governing the Internet. Only a few years ago, you could count on your fingers and toes the total number of reported cases deciding Internet legal issues. That era is long gone; new Internet decisions emerge from the courts every day. While this practice area was once considered so esoteric that few lawyers needed to worry about it, today virtually every lawyer's clients seem to have problems or require advice on Internet-related matters, even if these concerns extend only to legal issues involving the development and use of their own Web sites.
Like the field of entertainment law, Internet law addresses many questions that actually involve applying existing law from other practices areas (such as intellectual property, contract, or employment law), but with a new twist that must consider the impact of the Internet. These issues include the privacy rights of employees, how one agrees to a contract on the Internet, how securities offerings can be made over the Internet, and many others. But some legal questions are truly unique to the Internet industry. These include issues raised by specific new statutes-such as the federal Communications Decency Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which deal, respectively, with the liability of Web site operators for defamation and copyright infringement.
While various sections (including the Business and Corporations Law Section and the Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law Section) have conducted a number of joint programs on the Internet, as well as their own individual programs, the Association requires a single focal point for the coordination of our Internet efforts. The establishment of such a focal point will, of course, not prevent any section or committee from conducting any program that will serve that entity's members. No one segment of the Association is able to serve all the Internet needs of our members. However, we need to ensure that we keep up with the accelerating pace of developments in Internet law and technology by coordinating and increasing our efforts. This is particularly important for this organization because we work in a city that is one of the national centers of the Internet revolution.
The Internet Law Center
Historically, our response to needs of this sort has been to create a new section or committee. However, in this case, we have something different in mind: an Internet Law Center that will serve as a clearinghouse and coordinating center for Internet-related activities. We will invite all interested sections and committees to provide representatives so that they can participate in the center's activities. We also invite others who are interested in this area of the law to become active in the Internet Law Center.
The Internet Law Center will have its own page on our Web site. That page will provide a number of services, including:
- A much more robust set of links to other Internet sites of interest to lawyers.
- Listservs to increase communication on Internet subjects of mutual interest.
- Experimentation with methods to make content from the programs offered by our sections and committees available on the Internet.
- New technologies to deliver stored and real-time programs to our members no matter where they are.
The page will also be fully indexed so that you will find it easy to locate all the Association's Internet-related activities. Another possible function for the center is to coordinate an annual conference on new developments in Internet law. Certainly, many other ideas will emerge as the Internet Law Center gets to work.
We welcome your thoughts on how the center should work and what it should do. Undoubtedly, some of these ideas will not bear fruit, but part of the center's purpose is to be an incubator for new ideas about the Internet and to be a place where we can experiment with Internet issues. It will be a place where we can reexamine our old paradigms and find new ways to serve you better. We hope some of you will volunteer to participate. If you are interested, please contact Paul Supnik, whom I have appointed as the first chair of the Internet Law Center. Paul can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, an item that is not strictly Internet-related: We continue to solicit each of you to donate your old cellular telephones. We will send them to Motorola, the principal sponsor of the Call to Protect Program, which was initiated by the Wireless Foundation and the National Coalition against Domestic Violence. Motorola will reprogram these telephones so they can be used by battered women to call 911 to get police help to protect them and their children from their abusers. When I took a look around our house, I found several old cellular phones in our basement, and I suspect you can do the same. Just bring them into the Association's offices, where there is a donation box in the reception area, or, if that is not convenient, please send them directly to Call to Protect, c/o Motorola, 1580 East Ellsworth Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48108. We would like to thank you all of you who have already made donations.