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Hickey: The Present of the Profession

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IBA-Hickey-ChristineOne headline read, Lawsuits With a Side of Fries. Another announced a prediction: The Inevitable Future of the Legal Profession. No greasy burgers or lukewarm tacos pass through this drive-up window. Instead, an old Kenny Rogers Roasters building in Connecticut is home to a law firm branching out into the world of drive-thru convenience. Yes, a drive-thru window staffed by a paralegal to facilitate client communications and document signatures for those on the go. The story was both disturbing and fascinating at the same time.

While drive-thru law firms may be new, predictions about the profession are not. For years, people have been trying to capture what the future holds for the legal profession. Research has been conducted, books and articles have been written. Lawyers have been told that we were on the brink of fundamental change and this year we are warned that all forms of legal practice are on the cusp of a transition. There is no denying that change is inevitable, but change isn’t all bad.

This past month I had the pleasure of listening to a law professor share his vision of the changing tide for law firms based on market trends and empirical analysis of the legal profession. His presentation focused on project management and was eye-opening. I left like the others in the room, pondering all of the possibilities and realities the next decade will bring. Just last week, our newest Supreme Court Justice quoted John Mellencamp as he took his seat on the bench for the first time, “If you’re not part of the future, then get out of the way.” There is no doubt that being a visionary and forward-thinking is the better practice. Indeed, we all must embrace change and challenge that comes with it.

Sometimes, however, it’s okay just to live in the moment.

Over four hundred new lawyers were sworn in on October 15th at the Indiana Convention Center. The ceremony began with each one of them walking to a microphone in front of our Supreme Court Justices and distinguished judges before whom they may one day appear. Some were nervous, some spoke too soft, some too loud. All wore excitement and pride for the day. As we listened to hundreds of names, each personal introduction was as important as the one before and after. Each was an individual who had achieved a milestone in their life and we were there to share in that celebration.

The group as a whole was diverse and impressive, but really no different from so many others that have come before. Our past, the rich history of the profession and the honor of the oath, is what binds us all. Our future is in each new lawyer that raised a hand at that ceremony and swore to maintain respect for the courts, the confidence of clients, and truth, all with the same promise and excitement that you and I shared on that important day. These new lawyers are the best evidence of a profession that is as strong today as it was in the day of Atticus Finch. To each of them, a warm welcome and congratulations.

Interestingly, a report created by young lawyers in the year 2000 attempted to predict the state of the legal profession in the year 2020. The final chapter begins, “It is impossible to say to those early in their legal careers ‘pursue this field, and your practice will thrive.’ There are too many ways in which society can change, and too many unpredictable events in one’s life, to be certain of the best course to set.” That remains the case today and will always hold true. Thriving as a lawyer comes from hard work, good moral character, and so many other things we learn along the path of our careers. The report also shares a quote which has been attributed to everyone from Mark Twain to a Danish physicist to Yogi Berra, “I never make predictions, especially about the future.” I say, enjoy the present of the profession. It truly is a gift.•

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  1. I like the concept. Seems like a good idea and really inexpensive to manage.

  2. I don't agree that this is an extreme case. There are more of these people than you realize - people that are vindictive and/or with psychological issues have clogged the system with baseless suits that are costly to the defendant and to taxpayers. Restricting repeat offenders from further abusing the system is not akin to restricting their freedon, but to protecting their victims, and the court system, from allowing them unfettered access. From the Supreme Court opinion "he has burdened the opposing party and the courts of this state at every level with massive, confusing, disorganized, defective, repetitive, and often meritless filings."

  3. So, if you cry wolf one too many times courts may "restrict" your ability to pursue legal action? Also, why is document production equated with wealth? Anyone can "produce probably tens of thousands of pages of filings" if they have a public library card. I understand this is an extreme case, but our Supreme Court really got this one wrong.

  4. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

  5. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

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