Just below, I have an item on Jack Speight's recent article in the The Wyoming Lawyer. In that, I only addressed his comments on the dress code of the 1960s, which was no doubt much like the dress code for the entire history of the Wyoming State Bar at that time, but not so much now. He also had a very interesting comment on technology and the pace of practice, which was:
One of the main differences between now and last century in problem solving is the pace of law practice. We have gone from manual typewriters, carbon paper, onionskin, Dictaphones and ditto machines, to the electronic revolution and the related social media platforms and unlimited websites. We are in the realm now of instant communication, instant crisis, and instant problem solving compared to the good ol’ days of reflection and analysis. Gone are the days of the black rotary phone on the edge of the desk and the IBM electric typewriters. Now we have handhelds of various sizes, shapes, and functions and apps from Smartphones to iPads to tablets. Regardless of how we communicate and represent our clients, our role as problem solvers has not changed in providing service to the clients obtaining satisfactory results and handling their problems successfully.
This is very much the case, and I'm frankly not too certain that the practice of law hasn't suffered as a result.
What the author notes about instant communications is very true. I was an early adopter of computer technology and use it a great deal. Perhaps I shouldn't applaud myself on that, however, as the computer had just arrived when I started practicing law, with the internet arriving on the scene almost at the same time. I'd been taught to use the new technology of Westlaw at law school, although we did did not concentrate on its use for research. When I was first practicing law, almost no firm had a Westlaw account and we went to the county law library in order to use their Westlaw terminal. We were always very careful about using it, and typically sought permission from a client to use it when we did, as it we were charged by the minute to use it. Now, every lawyer everywhere has Westlaw access and younger attorneys can't imagine a world in which it isn't the first thing that a person turns to when researching the law.
I was slower to adopt smartphones, and I've only had one so far. I went to a smartphone so that I could check my email anywhere, but like most busy lawyers, I even use text messaging in practice, albeit carefully.
The revolution in technology certainly has changed this aspect of the practice of law. It must have been the case that in earlier eras lawyers had more time to ponder, if you will, any one legal topic. Chances are high that they call carried more of a variety of legal topics as well, so the list of things they pondered was probably fairly large. But the need to respond within hours, or even minutes, was no doubt relatively rare.