Gen Y, the Recession and Obama-Changing the Legal Landscape

Posted on November 14, 2008. Filed under: Networking, Social Media, The times they are a'changin', Web 2.0 |

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One of the first trials I had after law school, both my client and I had laptops at counsel table. I spoke at length with opposing counsel afterwards, and said he had never seen an attorney bring a laptop to court before. The idea had never occurred to him. In fact, he relied on his assistant for virtually all electronic document production, and he couldn’t even check his own calendar without phoning in to his office. It had never occurred to me that an attorney in this day and age WOULDN’T think to bring a laptop to court…

This is a welcome reminder Nicole. Our kids are way ahead of us in terms of keeping abreast of the tech world and the working world has in some cases learned to embrace them and we have to be a part of that. The Obama campaign is a good example. The legal world has always been slaves to precedent but outside forces are compeeling them to get with the program. Good video.

Excellent! I’m doing a similar thing for the wine industry. You have found a micro-niche for yourself…that desperately needs you. Imagine the possibilities: go get Seth Godin’s book TRIBES asap! You are it!

Great insights, Nicole, and I completely agree. In Manitoba, Canada where I live and work, I’m the only lawyer blogging and I’m just one of a few lawyers across Canada on twitter, facebook, linkedin. I want to be part of the wave of change I see happening, not left in the dust.

Fantastic observations. Couldn’t agree more, Niki.

Your points are extremely well taken. It is easy for those of us engaging in the on-line community to forget that we are a minority and to believe that the bright minds we see on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. are the norm rather than exception. A wake up call, for sure. Unfortunately the bubble dwellers who most need to view your video likely have no idea how to access it!

I truly appreciate the subtle underscoring of your message lauding the power of technology to shape law practice through your use of a video embedded in your technology blog! So well done!

I sure hope you’re right about this because I feel as if I am banging my head against the wall. I have literally begged the energy law firms in DC to take Web 2.0 seriously – I’ve invited biglaw colleagues to attend free Web 2.0 events, offered to put on a social networking talk for the Young Energy Lawyers and so far, no response, no interest. With an Obama presidency, we are going to see a resurgence of green tech companies that must overcome many complex financial and regulatory issues. If energy law firms are not able to find these clients, they will go to less qualified firms (by less qualified, I mean those that don’t know the energy business which is very unique) and they may not be able to position themselves. My fear is that we will see the death of an industry because the lawyers who might be able to serve these companies don’t have the foresight to make themselves accessible.
Personally, I don’t care if lawyers don’t get it – let the dinosaurs go extinct. But when lawyers – like your criminal defense colleagues – miss out on technology that can help serve clients, then clients lose out, and that is unfortunate.
The other thing I fear is a backlash. I am concerned that as forward thinking lawyers begin to move ahead and capitalize on web 2.0 tools, that the old guard will try to strike back and preserve its turf by enacting onerous bar rules like the NY advertising rule. I envision bars cutting back at lawyers’ ability to run virtual firms and to set up collaborative ventures or even take credit cards online. I know that these hurdles can be overcome, but Gen Y needs to be prepared for a fight, because Lawyers 1.0 (or 0.0) won’t cede its turf so easily. Glad to have someone like you leading the charge!

Carolyn is right about the possibility of a backlash. In NJ, having only a virtual office violates the Rules of Professional Conduct. Per the NJ Rules of Court,RULE 1:21. PRACTICE OF LAW: “An attorney who practices law in this state and fails to maintain a bona fide office shall be deemed to be in violation of RPC 5.5(a).” The same Rule defines bona fide office: “a place where clients are met, files are kept, the telephone is answered, mail is received and the attorney or a responsible person acting on the attorney’s behalf can be reached in person and by telephone during normal business hours to answer questions posed by the courts, clients or adversaries and to ensure that competent advice from the attorney can be obtained within a reasonable period of time.”

It has to be a physican place, so virtual offices are out!

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