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Science and technology is advancing at a breakneck pace. With each passing day, new technologies and advancements make our world easier, safer and point toward a brighter future. But with each advancement and innovation, legal issues arise.

Take nanotechnology, for example. Although in the early stages of development, this emerging science could one day be used to treat a wide variety of diseases and potentially extend the lifespan of millions of people. However, the legal ramifications of the science are yet to be determined. The benefits of nanotechnology, while extensive, will have to be weighed against the risks involved. Environmental, health and safety issues of nanoparticles will need to be considered. It is a legal certainty that many of these issues will be resolved in the courtroom. But is the legal community ready for the issues that these emerging technologies will bring?

Most large firms were founded in a time where lawyers kept their notes written on legal pads, not typed on a keyboard and entered into a laptop. Ask most law firms what they know about biotechnology, nanotechnology or other scientific advances and all you’ll receive is a blank stare and an invoice for the meeting. Understandably, it would be foolish to expect a law firm to be experts in every area. However, law firms must be familiar with the technology to a degree that they can effectively deal with expert testimony, communicate findings to a jury and represent their clients in a court of law. Sadly, most law firms are no more familiar with emerging technologies and scientific advances than the juries they are trying to convince. As scientific and technological issues advance, the education of the legal community must advance as well.

One firm that positions itself on the forefront of scientific and technical litigation is Markland Hanley. Billing itself as “a law firm for the twenty-first century”, the
Dallas firm specializes in legal representation where scientific and technological issues are of particular significance. Founded by Dale Markland and Tara Hanley, this firm is an expert example of legal representation at the forefront of technological advances. Because the firm focuses their practice on limited specific legal niche areas, their knowledge of the law in these areas is extremely deep and well organized. A side benefit is that unlike other law firms, Markland Hanley does not need to be educated on the client’s dime. As new technologies emerge and corresponding legal issues arise, law firms such as Markland Hanley will be best positioned to meet the needs of firms in those industries.

Advances in new technology demand a new breed of lawyers and law firms—ones that understand the complexities in science and technology and can effectively represent companies over a variety of complex issues. Firms that either do not understand the technologies in question or require education at their client’s expense are foolish to expect favorable results in a Court of Law.

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