Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, January 2, 2015

New Lang Sine and fearless predictions!

Under Analysis

I was waiting in court last week for a settlement conference. The crowd resembled a Southwest Airlines boarding call, only less patient. And without the promise of tiny pretzels.

Behind me was a young lawyer striking up a conversation with another young lawyer of the opposite sex. I’ll let you guess which player went where.

“Where did you go to law school?”

“[Insert prestigious law school name here.]”

“Oh, I went to [less prestigious law school name] but I went to [fancy college name] for undergrad. I’m here because [big silk stocking law firm name] recruited me. I wanted a job, preferably a high-paying one. They chased me pretty hard, and here I am.”

My inner curmudgeon, which is fast becoming my constant personality, caused me to bite my tongue until it almost bled. Given the current status of legal hiring, I was confident this young lawyer would have crawled across broken glass for any job these days. Still, I don’t begrudge someone trying to make a love connection.

Becoming a curmudgeon is much less painful than I imagined. When I was a young lawyer and thought 50 was old, I assumed all lawyers over 40 were grumps anyway. In reality, I’ve learned that only most of us are.

In between railing that “It’s a Wonderful Life” is not a great movie but a cheap rip-off of “A Christmas Carol,” this is the time of year when I make my fearless predictions for next year. As 2014 winds down I’m doing the same. We curmudgeons do love our traditions.

Typing will cease to exist in 2015. Folks with a smart phone have already gotten comfortable dictating texts and some emails. They even dictate their searches on the Internet. I use a speech-to-text program in my office, and rarely bang my big fat fingers against keys anymore. Besides, Siri hates me and Google mocks me.

Voicemail will cease to exist in 2015. My contemporaries and even my son call and never leave voicemail. They figure caller ID or some sixth sense will let me know they called. I’m guilty of not listening to a voicemail that lasts over 30 seconds anyway. Ditto for reading emails that last longer than four lines.

Technology will be even more invasive. Multiple desktop monitors have made it to the courthouse, one of the last bastions of old technology. Apple will introduce pillow computers so we can return email in our sleep. Google Glass will be replaced by Google Contact Lenses. I tried Google Glass for about three weeks. My dork quotient increased threefold, as did my collisions with trees and other vertical items. I have a noticeable tic when my phone is more than five feet from me. I’ve seen lawyers check their text messages during trial. Google Contact Lenses will be a transitional technology before smart phones are embedded in our foreheads. Once our phones are implanted, they’ll take their place amongst the other voices in our heads. I expect mine to sound like Moneypenny from James Bond movies – back in the Sean Connery days, of course.

Silk stocking law firms will offer drive-through windows. As law firms continue their digression into regular businesses, corners will have to be cut to maximize profits. One national television law firm filed for bankruptcy – something law firms rarely do and businesses do regularly. Just like ATM machines replaced bank tellers, drive-through boxes will replace fancy law firm offices. Electronic filing has replaced the last minute dashes to the court house. Or the printer, to get briefs to take to the court house. Some clients already pay by credit card or PayPal, so they won’t be shocked by the lack of human contact. Or contact with a lawyer.

New lawyer awards will emerge. Like the country music industry, our profession loves a good pat on the back, and there’s no better pat than an award. New award companies seem to spring up overnight. I think some are just plaque companies with time on their hands to develop a nifty logo – and voila! I received my third “nomination” package last week. For a mere $2,600, I could be named as one of the top 10 lawyers in my state. I am guessing only 10 folks would be willing to cough up the fee, so the award would be accurate, albeit incomplete.

People will pay to watch lawyers try cases. I know what you’re thinking – why would folks do that when they can just go to court and watch in person? Trials were once the big entertainment in town, and will be again. After Amazon paid about a billion bucks to get a website where people watch other people play video games, why wouldn’t someone market a website where lawyers pay to watch other lawyers try cases? Maybe even a TV channel called Court TV or something. Wait, that didn’t work. Never mind. 

Middle aged lawyer man will continue the descent to curmudgeon status. I know, this is not a fearless prediction, it’s simply an observation. 

©2014 under analysis llc. under analysis is a nationally syndicated column of the Levison Group.Spencer Farris is the founding partner of The S.E. Farris Law Firm in St. Louis, Mo. He’s one of the top 78 lawyers with a red flannel shirt and a two-syllable last name in the free world. Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent c/o this newspaper or directly to the Levison Group via email at farris@farrislaw.net.