The Law, it is A Changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak to soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no telling who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

–Bob Dylan

Now and Then

Thumbing through old law review articles, I found Phil Carroll’s “A Look Backwards: An Open Letter to the Arkansas Bar” (UALR Law Rev. Fall 2009, Vol 23:1, p 107). I was privileged to know Mr. Carroll during his lifetime and snuck off to his office to listen to stories every chance I got. I don’t regret a minute of it.

Law students, if I could tell you one thing, it would be to seek out the old-timers and listen to their stories. There’s no education that can replace it. 

Here are some of the changes Mr. Carroll mentioned watching over a 59-year law career: 

  • typewriters
  • secretaries who did short hand:


  • women lawyers
  • billable hours
  • marketing
  • lawyer advertising
  • copy machines
  • carbon paper
  • computers
  • Westlaw
  • typed bar exams
  • price of lawyers increased dramatically
  • price of law school increased dramatically

These changes are enormous. I can’t even imagine watching a profession change so much. But, the fact is, I probably will. I first entered the legal profession as a paralegal in 2004. In the 9 years I’ve been working in the law, I’ve seen my fair share of changes too. Here’s my short list: 

  • the number of women lawyers has decreased
  • the bankruptcy code was completely overhauled in 2005
  • Arkansas state courts are moving overwhelmingly to e-filing
  • You can pull a state court case up on the internet 
  • lawyers have blogs, facebook, twitter, etc.
  • juries are now cautioned not to post or look at social media during a trial
  • Attorneys can learn a lot about their jury pools by performing a simple google search
  • clients can be emailed from anywhere in the world
  • billable hours are becoming less and less status quo
  • there are too many lawyers for the legal jobs available
  • copyright trolls are being taken to task
  • Lexis Nexis no longer sends out disks to update a digital library
  • Judges and their staffs can be reached by email
  • price of law school increased significantly
  • electronic discovery (I beta tested LexisNexis discovery software)

These are just a few of the changes, but it’s clear that I will witness changes nearly as dramatic as those of Mr. Carroll. I can’t wait to see what comes next. 

How about you? What changes have you seen? 


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