Specialization leaves some people high and dry. If their specialty dries up, then what are they going to do? Tax laws change; litigation changes. They’ve gone now to a lot of mediation and arbitration, and there are not nearly as many trials in the courtroom as there were. Now, if a lawyer has one trial a year, he’s lucky.
~Ben L Kessinger, Jr.
Kentucky Lawyers Speak, page 224.
This warning is often taken for granted and ignored by attorneys at their own risk. In the business world, this is called creative destruction. Many of the companies in the Dow Jones industrials many years ago are not there anymore. One day Eastman Kodak owns a photography business, then along came Digital photography. One day railroads rule transportation, and Pullman sleeper cars were the only way to go for long distances.
In our own field, who remembers the king of typewriters, the IBM Selectric typewriter with a magical ball in the middle that you could change fonts and easily make carbon copies. Later replaced by the magic of a Wang computer typewriter. The net was gone. Typewriters gave way to television typewriters. Faxes are giving way to email. In court filings are done electronically from a distance. Right now, I am dictating this paragraph using Dragon 6 for my Mac. Not as good as the Dragon program for Windows, but it’s gotten pretty darn good.
Anyone remember when the best continuing legal education was to go to the courthouse and watch the Titans of trial lawyers battle it out? Or going to Frankfurt to watch Supreme Court arguments to learn the ropes for appellate practice? Well now, there are videos available online or on YouTube to serve as examples for various aspects of litigation. If you want to catch a Supreme Court argument, he can catch it live in the quiet of your own office.
How about when workers compensation laws changed in Kentucky which made it harder and harder to make money as a plaintiff lawyer, and nearly closed down that portion of the defense bar. Specialties came and specialties went. Subrogation has evolved into an entirely different, complicated, and critical element in injury law. IPads have become trial tools working together with projectors, televisions, audio, and more. The video deposition was once VHS, then a compact disc, then a DVD, and now thumb drive. Contrary to the popular saying that the more things change the more they stay the same. Not hardly the more things change, the more they change and change some more.