Volume 18, Number 1
January/February 2001

From the Editor

Serving Tomorrow's Client Today

By Jennifer J. Rose

The client of the future is like Miami, a fast-paced, ever-transforming Babel. Tattooed people and transvestites didn't ply the palm-lined avenues of the Art Deco Historical District back when my grandfather's grandfather, an old bearded and black-suited man in a broad-brimmed hat, whiled away his golden years at the beach sometime back in the 1920s. When your grandfather practiced law, clients were for life, respecting, honoring, and obeying their lawyers' sage counsel. Of course, the concept of legal malpractice hadn't yet been invented. A good reputation was sufficient advertisement for any lawyer's services, and bills were paid freely and willingly-not by credit card. Clients waited patiently for lawyers to draft documents and pleadings in a quaint Norman Rockwell world.

Somewhere between then and now, the tides changed. The client of the future is a human mosaic, geriatric, reborn, and newborn, straddling hemispheres and history. More diverse than ever, clients now demand that lawyers who have toiled in essentially the same quiet and pleasant style since the American Revolution deliver faster, cheaper, and more varied services than ever before. The changes that the legal profession has faced in the past decade remind me of Rip Van Winkle, going to sleep during the Ed Sullivan Show and waking up to South Park.

This issue's editor, Philadelphia lawyer Terry Dershaw, ably piloted our theme of the Client of the Future from concept to fruition.

Not only do tomorrow's clients expect more, they're also empowered by greater access to information, eroding lawyers' roles as information brokers. The very technology that fuels practices can impale the unwitting. As Elliot Eder, general counsel of USLaw.com, writes in "Ethical Use of Emerging Technologies in Law Practice," the rules that guided the profession have changed and will continue to change.

Today's lawyers use the words platen and foolscap just about as often as we utter 23 Skidoo. The lawyer who thinks that a digital signature grew out of the Palmer method of penmanship is just as likely to confuse an extranet with Aquanet hairspray. Jerry Lawson, a Washington, D.C., practitioner, explains it all in "The Language of Change."

Lawyers have shaped their practices to accommodate clients' needs and expectations on many fronts. Some have moved their practices into cyberspace. In "Using Internet-Based Technologies to Attract, Retain, and Service Clients," Sandra S. McQuain and Gregory H. Siskind explore what it means to build out into the ether. Going mano à mano over the tumultuous thicket of issues involved in multidisciplinary practice are Robert Ostertag and Larry Ramirez.

The distinctions between in-house counsel and private practice have blurred, and the role of corporate counsel is larger than ever. Janet Wright, an attorney at Dell Corporation, explains the changes in her article "Corporate Counsel: The Practice Setting for You?"

The dot-com world has ushered in new twists to the Internal Revenue Code. San Francisco attorney Robert W. Wood sets it all out in "Exercising Stock Options: What You (and Your Clients) Need to Know Before Joining the Dot-Com World." Read and enjoy this issue-but only if you want to know who your clients will be tomorrow.

jennifer j. rose, editor-in-chief of GPSolo, is a lawyer and writer living in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico. She can be reached at jenniferrose@abanet.org.

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