Monday, January 19, 2009

Lawyering....Back in the Day

Like any older person (hey, 26.5 years as a lawyer makes me older than lots of people) I like to recall the days of old. Quaint times when things were not as they are now. Back in the day, when I opened my law practice in 1982, things were markedly different. Doesn't seem like that long ago? In the context of law practice, consider the following:

1. Nobody had cell phones. We went to phone booths (the Courthouse was full of them), and we carried change.

2. Nobody had their "calendar" or their "contacts" in a device. We had little leather diaries that went in our breast pockets. I recently unearthed my collection of pocket diaries, from 1981 (I was important enough as a pre-lawyer to have a pocket diary) through 1997. When I looked through my old diaries I had the same feeling as when I go to my archives and look at old files, another trip down "bad memory lane".

3. Nobody had a fax machine. We never got things instantly, we never sent things instantly. I think we thought more, but now, who has time to think about such things, with all these faxes coming in. During the first "big" case I ever worked on, my clients insurance company disclaimed coverage, and informed me of this by TELEGRAM.

4. Fedex (and other overnight services) did not exist. For local stuff we used messengers. For far away stuff people....waited.

5. Most offices did have copy machines. However, I did know older lawyers who used carbon paper. I also worked on some files for older lawyers where the copies were from carbon paper.

6. Some offices had primitive computers and word processors. However, electric typewriters, "secretaries who took shorthand" and "typing services" were commonplace.

7. E-mail did not exist. Web surfing did not exist. Facebook did not exist. Fantasy football and baseball did not exist. Online poker did not exist. How did we manage to waste time???

8. In 1982, lawyer advertising was pretty new. I know we are all proud of how lawyer advertising has evolved, improving both our service to people, and our image.

When I started in practice, I was in a suite with some lawyers who had been practicing for over 50 years. I liked to talk to them about THEIR "old days", when they started in practice, in the 1930's.

More on this tomorrow.

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