For some reason unknown to me (it can't possibly be my imminent 60th birthday), I have been receiving solicitations from the State Bar's "Senior Lawyers Division." Though I would like to think it is based on my vast experience, I have reason to believe it is more "temporal" in nature. So that got me thinking...
When I ventured out on my own as a solo practitioner in management employment law back in 1989:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act did not exist.
- The Family Medical Leave Act did not exist.
- A client asked me "when I was going to join the 90s" and get a fax machine.
- I asked the guy across the hall, "What would I do with this internet thing? I already have a phone book."
- Speaking of the ADA, did you know that the law, enacted in 1990, has a section expressly exempting "transvestites" from coverage, and further states that the term "disability" shall not include "transvestism, transsexualism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments, or other sexual behavior disorders."
Times change and you have to adjust. So I did, and soon found myself:
- With a computer on my desk, and when I clicked on an icon that said "Windows 3.1," it opened up a whole new world - one that did not require secret combinations on the keyboard to do anything.
- Conducting presentations on "the electronic work environment," and all of the issues presented by a new form of communication (a thing called email), and "that internet thing."
- Learning a new verb, "Google," which was never actually a word at all and represented a means for obtaining instantaneous information about anything in the universe, including, much to my initial chagrin, a somewhat effective method for conducting legal research.
- Reluctantly acknowledging that all those distinguished-looking books in my library were nothing more than obsolete decorations from a quaint era in the past, when you actually had to open them to conduct legal research.
Fast forward to today, when life and business are conducted through a device tethered to everyone's hand, communication and information are instantaneous, mail and cash are becoming obsolete, and legal documents are filed with a few keystrokes.
Still, at the end of the day, it's about people and relationships - and thought. No matter how much easier modern technology makes things; no matter how much information is at our instant disposal; and no matter how much easier it is to communicate through a keyboard, there is no substitute for actual discussion, reasoned analysis, and independent thought. That part of the practice of law will never change.
Questions? Contact Al Seneczko in our Oconomowoc office at (262) 560-9696 or by e-mail at [email protected].