3 Lawyers Over 60 Tell Us How the Legal Profession Has Changed

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Spending a long time in a particular career guarantees that you’ll see some level of ebb and flow in your industry. And while experience can be a hard teacher, the payoff is wisdom. No law practice management software, no matter how stellar, can replaces the wisdom of experience.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of law and order, where a lawyer who knows what they’re doing can easily steamroll a new attorney.

So, I got to thinking: what are some of the lessons learned by experienced lawyers? How has the courtroom changed during their tenure? I sat down with three lawyers to find out.

“A way to help so many people”

This interview is with Richard Glassman, a trial attorney in Memphis, TN.

How old are you, and how long have you been working in the legal world?

I will turn 71 this year, and have been practicing law since 1972.

Tell me a little bit about who you are and what kind of law you practice.

I am a trial attorney. I represent other attorneys and professionals who are being sued or who have ethical issues. I sue doctors and hospitals for clients, and have taught as an adjunct professor. I also lecture in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas, [teaching] attorneys [how] to prevent legal malpractice and what to do if they think they may have committed legal malpractice.

I have served as a special master by appointment of a judge/chancellor to make recommendations to the court on fairly complicated matters. I believe very strongly in giving back to my community, so I also do a fair amount of pro bono work for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

What was the legal profession like when you started practicing?

It’s like night and day from then until today. We had very little discovery/paper submissions and no computers, so you did not know what the other side would do or would present like you do now. There’s a lot more transparency now.

Are there any huge changes you’ve seen, for better or worse?

It goes both ways. The civility among lawyers has deteriorated in my opinion, but is starting to improve again.

Do you feel that technology has really impacted the world of law? If so, in what ways?

I could write a book on this. No question that technology has had an impact on the legal profession. Cell phones, Google, computers, tablets, they’ve all had a huge impact on the proliferation of information and how people look and feel about all types of things.

Is there anything you really miss from when you began practicing?

The camaraderie; working as adversaries, but still having a mutual respect for each other when the case was over.

Are there any changes you particularly enjoy or wish had happened sooner?

The involvement of the Tennessee Supreme Court in making the public feel more comfortable with the courts and the legal system.

Any final thoughts?

The practice of law is a great profession with some great folks—men and women of all ages, race and color. It is a way to help so many people in so many ways.

My daughter is a lawyer practicing with my firm and doing what I do. My little brother from Big Brothers Big Sisters is an attorney with FedEx in Dubai. My nephew is an attorney, along with three cousins and a brother in law. We are a family of lawyers.

“Technology changed the entire landscape”

This interview is with Steven Vasilaros, a personal injury attorney in Daytona Beach, Florida.

How old are you, and how long have you been working in the legal world?

I’m 66, and I’ve been practicing for 40 years.

Tell me a little bit about who you are and what kind of law you practice

I am a personal injury lawyer. I am licensed in Ohio and Florida. I have practiced in Florida for 35 years concentrating on representing injured plaintiffs.

What was the legal profession like when you started practicing?

The profession had a much more intimate feel when I started practicing. There was a large degree of comradeship and pride in our positions back then.

Are there any huge changes you’ve seen, for better or worse?

The largest change I have seen, by far, [is] the ability for lawyers to advertise. In the long run, I feel it was a positive change in that many more people now realize that legal help is available to all.

Do you feel that technology has really impacted the world of law? If so, in what ways?

Technology changed the entire landscape, in a positive way. Discovery is now manageable, legal research that previously took days can be accomplished in hours, resources that were only available to the largest firms are now there for the smallest firms. In short, technology has raised the quality of legal services to all clients, regardless of the size of their pocketbooks.

Is there anything you really miss from when you began practicing?

The civility opposing attorneys showed to their opponents and clients. The belief that lawyers are not just advocates, they are officers of the court.

Are there any changes you particularly enjoy or wish had happened sooner?

Both advertising and technology.

“The legal world was simpler, and afar less hectic”

This interview is with William “Bubba” Head, a criminal defense and civil litigation lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia.

How old are you, and how long have you been working in the legal world?

Age 66, practicing criminal defense and plaintiff’s civil litigation in Georgia since June of 1976. Always in private practice, and always been self-employed.

Tell me a little bit about who you are and what kind of law you practice.

I have handled hundreds of bench trials or jury trials over 41 years, ranging from speeding to murder, and various car accident and other personal injury trials, mediation and negotiated settlements.

I am married to a former prosecutor from California, who is a member of both the California and Georgia Bar. I have one daughter in medical school and one in undergraduate school.

What was the legal profession like when you started practicing?

Very few attorneys had any visible marketing, the IBM electric typewriter was high tech, and copy machines and the fax machine were fairly new technology. All phones were wired into a wall. Westlaw was just being rolled out, and criminal defendants had more procedural protections at trial than they do today.

The monopoly phone company Yellow Pages later became more popular for marketing, until the internet opened the way for rampant, multi-faceted legal marketing.

Plus, “tort reform” had not been foisted upon us, and the legal world was simpler, and far less hectic than today.

Are there any huge changes you’ve seen, for better or worse?

I have handled a limited number of cases in other states, and have been able to see improved courtroom procedures and have learned to appreciate that states like California are far more advanced and streamlined in processing misdemeanor cases than Georgia. South Carolina is still light years ahead of Georgia when it comes to technology for police arrest videos, and court records.

In a clogged city like Atlanta, every effort [to utilize] efficient, remote, Facetime or other teleconferencing method [should be made for] routine matters and scheduling. Some judges in our State use lengthy calendar calls as a tool to get accused citizens to plead guilty, due to loss of time at work and travel costs.

Also, legal marketing has become a two-edged sword. Lots of misleading and borderline fraudulent web sites, but those with top credentials have also benefited, for the sophisticated web searcher. I applaud the internet, and have taught internet marketing to lawyers [at] small law firms for over 25 years. I [have] also handled internet marketing duties for a few other, hand-picked lawyers.

Do you feel that technology has really impacted the world of law? If so, in what ways?

Yes, and mostly in GOOD ways.

Is there anything you really miss from when you began practicing?

I miss living in Athens, GA, where I started. It is truly one of God’s special places, but the money is in Atlanta, where I moved to, in 1990.

Are there any changes you particularly enjoy or wish had happened sooner?

The governor of Georgia (whose son is a felony trial judge in a Superior Court) has finally implemented a statewide effort to try to limit the use of PRISON [sic] time to dangerous people, who have been involved in violent crimes. This is a change that I frankly did not think would occur in my lifetime, but I applaud the governor.

The bottom line

Technology (and the advent of legal advertising) has clearly revolutionized the legal world. Have you checked out our law practice management software directory to make sure your tech isn’t stuck in the past?

Tell me what changes you’ve seen, no matter your experience, in the comments below, or tweet me @CapterraHalden.

If you want to stay on top of legal tech trends and be the most modern lawyer you can be, subscribe to my email list and get fresh legal tech news in your inbox every other week.

Looking for Law Practice Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Law Practice Management software solutions.

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Halden Ingwersen

Halden Ingwersen is a former Capterra analyst.

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