GPSOLO
Volume 20, Number 4
June 2003

GP MENTOR

Voices of Experience

Brian T. Hermanson

Too many mentors? That's an oxymoron for law students and new lawyers setting up practice. In the coming months, GP Mentor will give you the benefit of experienced voices from general practitioners, solos, and small firm members who'll be able to th What is your background, and what inspired you to become a lawyer?
I always wanted to be an attorney. I went to undergrad at Carroll College in Wisconsin, with majors in political science and history, and to law school at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

What influenced your decision to pursue a general practice/solo/small firm career?
I joined a firm right out of law school and left the firm seven years later. I felt I wanted to have the control of my practice that I could get only as a sole practitioner.

On a scale of one to five (five equals nerd, one equals novice), how proficient would you rate yourself in the use and integration of technology into your practice?
Three.

What changes have the use of technology brought to law practice in general, for better or worse?
It has clearly aided in the preparation of lengthy documents. Documents that took a day to prepare when I began my practice can now be created very quickly. Also, a sole practitioner can manage complex document cases with the new technology in ways never dreamed of a few years ago.

What technological advance or purchase has made the biggest positive change in your practice and why?
Certainly the purchase of the computer with Internet capacity has been the biggest advance. To be able to communicate in seconds is now expected. The ability to research and investigate issues online has been huge. The purchase of office management software also has made the handling of cases much more efficient.

What early lawyer experiences have helped you in your career?
The ability to talk to people, listen to their concerns, and really care about their needs has been continually helpful to me in my career.

Do you have any concerns about the proliferation and expansion of technology in the practice of law?
Not major concerns. I am always worried about the amount of information that is burying each of us. I also worry about the amount of paper that lawyers can throw at one another because of technology. Computers were suppose to bring about a paperless office. In fact they have generated even more paper.

What was the best professional advice you ever received?
While the lawyer may have many cases, this is the client's only case. Treat the client like his/her case is the most important one you have in the office.

Whom do you most admire?
Clarence Darrow.

Who or what got you started with the ABA and/or GP Section involvement?
I was involved with the ABA and the GP Section since my law school days. I just always felt that as a lawyer I should belong to the organization that nationally represents the profession. I also felt that it was a way to keep up with current changes in the profession.

What can the ABA and/or GP Section do to be a good home to young lawyers in the electronic age?
Information, information, information. We get so many biased or slanted opinions from people on the best way to do things. If one group could just tell us the proper information without bias, that would be invaluable.

What personality trait has served you best over the years?
Honesty.

What advice would you give young lawyers?
-Always admit your mistakes to your client.
-Don't represent your interest, but the interest of your client.
-If you are uncomfortable in a case, get out. You are not doing yourself or your client any good by staying in.
-Answer calls as soon as possible.


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