Christopher A. Suarez, Esquire

2020 Warren E. Burger Prize for Writing

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA–Christopher A. Suarez is the 2020 winner of the American Inns of Court Warren E. Burger Prize, a writing competition that promotes scholarship in the areas of professionalism, ethics, civility, and excellence. The award, which includes $5000, recognizes Suarez’s essay “Disruptive Legal Technology, COVID-19, and Resilience in the Profession.”

The winning essay, which will be published in the South Carolina Law Review, focuses on the ethical issues prompted by the legal technologies that have been transforming the legal profession in recent years. Thanks to artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other advances, the legal profession may now rely on technology to review documents, draft briefs, and even render judgments. The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating this technological transformation, with lawyers now interviewing witnesses, conducting legal proceedings, and doing other work online from their homes.

This shift brings new ethical challenges, however. These include lawyers’ competence in using new technologies, the need to work with and oversee legal technology vendors, and the potential for implicit bias and discrimination as a result of new legal technologies. The solution, Suarez argues in his paper, is increased resilience of lawyers and institutions, who have in the past resisted technology. His specific recommendations include articulating a vision of how technology could change the legal profession, urging law schools to adopt curricula to ensure technological competence, requiring continuing education on legal technology, creating a consumer guide to comparing legal technology providers, identifying and addressing biases in technology, and using mindfulness meditation and similar techniques to promote resilience among lawyers.

Suarez is an associate attorney at Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington, D.C., where he specializes in high-tech patent and trade secret trials and appeals. His clients represent a wide range of industries and electronic technologies, including smartphones, internet-of-things technologies, voice control computers, and others. The intersection of law, privacy, and technology is another interest. Suarez has participated in privacy-related litigation and holds a Certified Information Privacy Professional/United States certification from the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

He is active in the American Bar Association, Federal Circuit Bar Association, and the Giles S. Rich American Inn of Court.

Suarez earned his law degree in 2011 from Yale Law School, where he served as executive editor of the Yale Law and Policy Review. He earned a master of arts in teaching degree from Dominican University in 2008 and dual undergraduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006.