In the latest issue of Southern California Super Lawyers magazine magazine, we talk with IP and business litigator Adrian M. Pruetz of Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard Avchen & Shapiro. The Q&A, “Wanted: Shades of Grey,” is online. The following is the second of two blog-exclusive excerpts from the interview. Part I can be read here.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen during your career?
Without question, the biggest change is all of us doing our own work on computers. When I started practicing we were speaking into Dictaphones and handing off tapes to secretaries and word-processing departments. I don’t think anybody misses that. For one thing, it’s pretty hard to dictate a brief. The draft you get back is a mess. Then you have to start reorganizing it. Compared to today? It took forever. It was totally inefficient. I just think the way that computers have streamlined the way attorneys do their work…
I mean, books? How many books does a law firm need anymore? You might have a few statute books and a few treatises, but your research is all totally up-to-date and online.
Any changes that you miss?
One issue that I have with legal research today, and maybe I’m just showing my age here, is that back when I started out young lawyers spent a lot of time looking at treatises. Let’s say you had a patent case and you were looking at all of the patent defenses. You might just go to a treatise, and you might just read through and try to figure out things that you don’t know anything about. You’re looking. You’re trying to learn something. Trying to find out what kind of defenses you can raise.
We spent a lot of time looking at books, looking at indexes to books, trying to get a handle on the kind of research we wanted to do. I think the computer makes that difficult. Young lawyers today have to know the search they want to do in order to look for something. So you’re limited by what you know. So that’s one constricting aspect of legal research.
The other thing–and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way–you used to have a bit of a break. But today? Clients, especially corporate clients, expect their lawyers to be available 24/7. If you get an email on Saturday morning, no one’s thinking you’re waiting until Monday morning to answer it. I cannot remember the last time–other than maybe a preplanned vacation, and probably not even then–I didn’t work over a weekend.
A pre-planned vacation? Is that what everyone else calls a vacation?
(Laughs) Probably a strange way to put it. What I mean by pre-planned is where you plan to not be available. Normally when I’m on vacation I’m still getting email and communicating with everyone. It’s a vacation yet you’re still tied.