Recently, I was talking with a lawyer (who started to engage in legal work this year) to introduce my legal experience and my profession as a lawyer. I graduated from law school in 2012, so I don’t feel like a veteran, but I started to tell this person that even in the short time I was a practicing lawyer, the situation in the legal industry had changed. The whole experience really made me feel that I and this person are from different generations. I hope the 33-year-old was not true! In any case, I started working as a summer lawyer at Biglaw in 2011, so I only have a first-hand understanding of the development of lawyers in the past ten years. However, the legal profession has made considerable progress in the past ten years, which makes people doubt how the legal profession will change in the next ten years.
As a lawyer, the biggest change I have seen in the legal profession recently may be the extensive electronic filing agencies. When I first served as a summer assistant in 2011, the federal courts in almost all of my districts only compulsory electronic filing of all litigation documents. In most cases, there is no electronic filing in New Jersey, and in some cases, there is only electronic filing in New York. In my early days as a practicing lawyer, I spent a lot of time and energy to print and prepare documents to be archived. In a company I worked for, someone would even come to our office to pick up items that needed to be archived at around 3pm every day. In addition, lawyers must carefully record documents when they receive them, and need to file documents appropriately for later use and review.
Now, almost every court I work in has adopted an electronic application system, and dealing with COVID-19 has made electronic applications more and more widely used in the legal profession. Unless the judge asks for a courtesy copy (which is less and less), there is no need to carefully print the document and prepare to submit it to the court. Moreover, all parties will be notified immediately after the file is submitted, so they will hardly miss any opportunity to view the file. It is also much easier to find archived documents and use them for motions and other purposes. I remember that early in my career, a litigant asked every co-suspect in the case to provide a copy of his answer so that he could include this in his motion for summary judgment. In the current environment, this request would be unnecessary because most papers are instantly accessible, and all papers are available through electronic filing.
Another huge shift in the legal profession is the movement of unlimited use of legal research platforms. When I first started as a summer assistant, individuals were billed based on time spent on legal research platforms or searches conducted on such platforms. This makes legal research too costly in some cases, and some of my early companies even have libraries so that lawyers can conduct book research and save expensive online legal research fees. In addition, you must conduct your research extremely cautiously and efficiently to avoid spending huge amounts of money on legal research platforms.
At some point in the past decade, the legal research platform has switched from a payment system per minute or transaction to unlimited use. It’s a bit like when AOL stops charging on a monthly basis based on how long you have used the system-but now I am really aging myself! Now, legal research projects rarely prohibit costs, because people usually only pay a fixed monthly fee to use these resources, and lawyers don’t have to worry about increasing costs. In addition, lawyers have greater freedom to look around and find the right authority for their problems. This change also democratizes legal practice, because various law firms can afford access to high-quality legal research opportunities.
Another major difference in the way many companies operate is how they charge customers. When I first started practicing, we charged clients for legal research fees, which was quite standard. However, we also charge customers a copy fee of 10 cents per page, telephone bills, and almost all other expenses under the sun. This makes practicing law inefficient, because every time I want to use the phone or copier, I have to enter the appropriate customer code. Since this is usually a large number, I usually have to give up what I am doing, access the code, and then type in the code, all of which may cause the customer to be charged a few cents in some cases.
If I am wrong, someone can correct me, but in the current environment it seems to deviate from the collection of very few items. Although some companies still charge photocopying, phone bills, and other costs per page, the company I later worked for did not pass small fees on to customers. This makes the practice law more effective, and clients may realize that they are not actually deceived or deceived by the lawyer.
Obviously, legal practice has changed over a long period of time, but when I look back on my own experience, it is absurd to think that legal practice has changed drastically in the past ten years. Feel free to send me an email to find out how your lawyer business has changed in the past 10 years. You want to know where the lawyer industry will be in the near future. This is crazy.
Jordan Rothman is a partner of… Rothman Law Firm, Is a full-service New York and New Jersey law firm.He too Student Debt Diary, A website that discusses how he pays off his student loans. You can contact Jordan via the following email: email@example.com.