I have the good fortune these days to be wearing multiple hats. I am managing partner of my firm; chair of the DRI Law Practice Committee; and, President Elect of the Indianapolis Bar Association. In those roles I have traveled the country speaking to DRI and state defense bar groups, attending ABA and the National Association of Bar President meetings, and attending law practice seminars. I have learned that the sands are shifting under the feet of lawyers and law firms, yet most lawyers are completely oblivious. 

You have heard the term "the future is now?" Well, its true, the future is now. Changes are happening so rapidly in law practice that the changes will pass many lawyers by, and when they wake up to the change, it will be too late for many of them.

So, what are some of the changes? Law is rapidly going paperless, and technology (for those who embrace it) is making it far easier (and cheaper for clients) than ever before. The business and insurance world are moving jobs in house. They are using paraprofessionals and outsourcing to do tasks that lawyers have traditionally done.

Across the country more and more individuals and companies are trying to represent themselves because the internet and e-filing has made law look less confusing to them. As law schools have seen declining enrollment, law grads have seen fewer jobs, recent grads are increasingly hanging out a shingle rather than await a traditional firm or corporate job.

Many of these changes are here to stay. Certain kinds of work, commonly known as "commodity work" will never again command fee increases. The work will go in house, and for the outside lawyers who do it, the profits will be derived from doing the work as efficiently as possible, using technology and paralegal assistance.

My pitch to you, my reader: Do everything you can to stay current on trends; view these changes as an opportunity, not a detriment. Get ahead of the trend line. How do you do it? You attend meetings and seminars and you read everything you can find.

We hope, of course, that you will get involved in the DRI Law Practice Management Committee and help us with our programming and materials. But, that is not enough. I also belong to the ABA Law Practice Committee and find their publications to be fabulous. Every day I read a posting from two free sites, Attorneys at Work and Solo Practice University. While I am not a solo practitioner, I have found that it pays to think like one. Both of these sites have valuable information on a daily basis that I often share with my entire firm. I am also a subscriber to the Remsen Group newsletter where I get cutting edge information on law firm trends.

The bottom line is that it is easy to stay current and it is a MUST if you want to survive and thrive in these changing times. It is not enough for just firm managers to be current. We all need our partners and rising associates to be keeping current so that they are hearing about these changes from someone other than us. Thanks for your time! 

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Categories: Law Practice Management

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It should come as no surprise that the federal judiciary is calling for greater security due to threats from people who have been denied Social Security disability benefits.  Dissatisfaction with the judiciary, and resulting threats against judges, their families, and their staffs is a real and growing problem.  The level of dissatisfaction and the related growing level of threats is attributable in large part to the availability of internet websites and blogs that are created and fueled by unhappy litigants.  Even a brief scan of the internet will produce dozens of single issue sites in which writers are encouraging disobedience toward judicial orders and violence against judges. 

Another significant reason for increasing hostility toward judges is unjust criticism from the other branches of government.  Hardly a day passes that a senator, congressman, governor or mayor is not lambasting a judicial opinion on cable news or on the internet.  While freedom of speech certainly gives anyone the right to criticize judicial decisions, the public criticism from elected officials is growing increasingly personal, and is frequently uninformed and unsupported by the facts of a particular case.  Judicial ethical canons prohibit judges from reacting to these attacks, so the public usually hears only one side.

Every bar association at every level (including state and local) must give consideration to creating active committees to scrutinize judicial criticism and to react when criticism of judges goes beyond the bounds of fair comment.  These committees should also be actively involved with the Chamber of Commerce, judicial associations, and local subdivisions of government to make certain that our courthouses are safe for the judges, their staffs, and the lawyers and consumers who visit the courts.  If we in the  organized bar do not step up and begin responding to unfair and uninformed criticism of the judiciary, then threats against judges on all levels will continue to escalate, and well-intentioned people will cease to want to work in the judiciary.  More importantly, the public will lose confidence in an important branch of government that relies upon public obedience to its orders.

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While most of the attention of the nation is drawn to the presidential election, there are many states that will be holding elections for their supreme and appellate courts.  Once again, record sums of money are being raised for the support of and opposition to judicial candidates.  Much of that money will be spent on television advertising, and we can expect to see a number of attack ads.

The debate continues to rage as to whether judges should be elected or appointed.  Proponents and critics of both methods of judicial selection can make valid points to support their respective views.  However, no one can dispute that the rise of attack advertising in judicial elections and the growth of special interest spending from all sides of the political spectrum is threatening to seriously erode the public’s confidence in the judiciary.

Full Article

For additional information, please see the DRI Judicial Task Force Report - Without Fear or Favor.pdf (5.42 mb)

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