As I enjoy Memorial Day Weekend with my family, my thoughts turn to the nature of the law practice when I first started 30 years ago. The biggest difference is the technological advances that have come along.
As a young lawyer, my boss would occasionally call me on a weekend to ask me to go to the office and retrieve a document from a file and read it to him. Likewise, I was often asked to go to another law firm to hand deliver a document or to retrieve one. We were not in the cloud, had no email or text messaging, and the internet was not yet a thing. The older lawyers would sometimes ask me to fax a document for them because, of course, they had not learned how to use a fax machine when they were young attorneys.
Nowadays, the practice of law is much more connected. Ease of communication and access to information make everyone more efficient. Lawyers are not better – far from it. But they certainly have more information and resources readily available to them. For instance, I am able to easily locate and download briefs and other legal documents that relate to issues I am working on and use them as guides for my own projects. I have access to a complete national law library at my fingertips, so long as I have an internet connection.
So too, clients are generally better informed when they contact me, because the have usually done their own internet research on a topic before calling me to discuss an issue. This can be frustrating, because I may find myself having to dispel the inaccurate comments of an internet blogger. But the resulting dialog is healthy for the attorney client relationship.
I suppose 30 years from now attorneys will marvel at how today’s law practice was in the dark ages with regard to technology. Hopefully, I will be around to witnesses the changes to come.