Nelson: A look back … and to the profession’s future

December 30, 2015

nelson-jennifer-editorBirthdays, anniversaries, and a new year are good times for reflection and evaluation. That’s part of the reason we take a look back at the news we covered throughout the year in our last issue of the year and why we devoted stories each month in honor of our 25th anniversary in print. We used this anniversary as a jumping-off point to highlight topics and issues that made headlines in the early 1990s. Looking back at what we wrote about 25 years ago really supports the idea that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Twenty-five years ago, there were concerns about jail and prison overcrowding, alternative billing arrangements, and civility, topics that still are on lawyers’ minds. And if history is any indication, those will still be hot topics for lawyers in 2040.

I think it’s only fair that when you take a look back at something, you also consider the future. If you asked attorneys 25 years ago what practicing law in 2015 would look like, who knows what they would have said. Would they have predicted that we’d carry tiny, powerful computers in our pockets that allow us to call, text and email clients at any time of the day, store important documents and search for the closest parking spot near the courthouse? Would they have foreseen the outsourcing of some legal work to companies outside the U.S. or the massive student loan debt many recent law school grads carry? We thought it would be interesting to find out what attorneys and legal experts today think practicing the law will look like in 2040, when Indiana Lawyer turns 50. Those we spoke with gave varied, interesting answers, although all agreed technology will continue to have an impact on the profession. One predicted that mid-sized firms with 25 to 75 lawyers will cease to exist, leaving only small firms and mega firms. We’ll have to wait and see if we’ll attend routine court matters virtually through our laptops or smartphones instead of in person, as another attorney predicted.

As Indiana Lawyer enters 2016, it does so with some changes on staff. I became editor this month after working with the paper for nearly 10 years, five of those as managing editor. Dave Stafford has become managing editor, and Marilyn Odendahl has become senior reporter.

We will continue to cover the Indiana legal community and whatever changes may come in the future. As always, please feel free to contact me at jnelson@ibj.com with any comments or story ideas. I look forward to hearing from you!•


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