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June 15, 2004


david giacalone

Thank goodness I'm retired from punditry and don't have to think hard about this very good question.

Nonetheless, off the topic of my fuzzy head, I'd say it is mostly attitude that needs changing. To wit:

1) a renewed commitment by the individual lawyer and law firm to accept only work that can be done diligently and competently;
2) an acceptance by law firm management of the responsibility to create an ethics-friendly and client-friendly environment (which will often mean lower hour/fee targets for each lawyer);
3) a realization that "the client comes first" applies to fees, too, and does not mean that the lawyer gets to $cr*w the client.
4) an effort to take full advantage of the digital revolution in ways that mean better service for clients, while sharing the cost savings, and permitting willing clients to perform as many functions/tasks as possible for themselves.
5) And, corny as it may sound, the renewed understanding that lawyering is a profession first and a business second; folks who switch that priority should be urged to look elsewhere for a livelihood.

Fully embracing suggestion (5) would make (1) to (4) inevitable. It would also mean vigorous efforts by the legal profession to use the digital revolution and self-help law to make civil justice available to all Americans.

Finally, I'd highly recommend at least one Haiku Moment (or other creative time-out) every day for every lawyer, perhaps starting here: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/ethicalesq/.

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