You can distinguish generations of lawyers from their relationship with the telephone.
(le sommaire français suit)
I’m not talking about “recreational” use. That phone-hugging lout, weaving back and forth in front of you through the breakfast cereals aisle at the supermarket, has shortened your life by the time you had to listen to him. Sadly, public places have become mental extensions of people’s living rooms. Compared to its omnipresence in the world outside, the decline of telephony in the law office is more subtle and more important to your career.
The desktop telephone reached its apogee as professional tool in the 1980′s, when the above Bell Telephone commercial, part of a 10-year campaign featuring Canadian actor Larry Mann as “the Boss,” aired dozens of times a day. You can see in 1982, the phone company was still a monopoly and its only competition was Canada Post, who could communicate a thousand words for a 25 cent postage stamp.
Historically, being smart in competitive endeavours went hand in hand with ruthlessness. So, too, the law has sometimes countenanced anti-social traits and even coveted possessors of the killer instinct. As law becomes a more socially relevant, more collaborative pursuit, the aggressive lawyer needs to change, to remain smart. This sea change is, in part, behind the upheaval in law over civility. After the storm, there is hope.
Read this month’s posting in the Accidental Mentor, for more about the future of bully-savants.
Historiquement, être intelligent dans la compétition associait avec la cruauté. Donc, aussi, les avocats ont parfois toléré des traits antisociaux et même l’instinct du tueur. Comme le droit devient plus en plus pertinent à la société, et plus une poursuite de groupe, l’avocat agressif a besoin de changer son jeu. Ce changement radical est, en partie, derrière le bouleversement de la barre au sujet de la civilité. Après la tempête, il y a de l’espoir.
Dans l’article de juin 2012 dans Accidental Mentor, débrouillons l’énigme et l’avenir du savant-antisocial.
(la version française suit)
When 10 minutes to go, is late
It was 6:50 p.m., and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a —— Drrrring! “He’s not here yet. He’s supposed to have my kids here by 7,” said the voice, to the lawyer. “Can’t you phone the judge or something?” The phone call in this true story was the lawyer’s reward for having a listed home phone number, a bad practice of many lawyers in smaller communities.
If you are a family lawyer and this story “rings a bell,” just think what lies in store this holiday season, when Christmas Day 2011 falls on a Sunday, a day for weekend parents in most family law custody orders. Even where custody agreements provide for holidays falling on weekends, the operation of law (priority of a period of custody over a period of access) will nevertheless heighten tensions during the most stressful time for families.