August 16, 2022

Florida Law

Dealing with Change: Law firm leaders discuss challenges and the effects of technology

| 6/28/2018

H. William Perry

  Managing shareholder, Gunster, West Palm Beach

 H. William Perry H. William Perry

Perry has been managing partner of his firm for 10 years.

Q: How has the practice of law changed most in the past five to 10 years?

A: Technology has dramatically increased the speed of play, particularly with respect to a client’s expectations for quick responses. There are many questions that can be answered quickly. However, some of the tougher legal problems often require a thoughtful or strategic approach that is not possible to develop or convey by return e-mail or text. Sometimes slowing down the client or the decision-making process is the right approach and often leads to better outcomes.

Q: How has technology changed your firm’s practice?

A: We have been fortunate to work on several cutting-edge cases involving electronic discovery and its implications. The law and science of predictive coding is beginning to strike a balance between a fair and open discovery process and not allowing a party to use discovery for fishing expeditions or harassment. Technology enables lawyers to complete many tasks more efficiently; however, overreliance on both technology and speed creates its own set of challenges.

Richard Cole

  Managing partner, Cole, Scott & Kissane, Miami

Richard Cole Richard Cole

Cole has been his firm’s managing partner since its inception in 1997.

Q: What’s the most challenging aspect of running a law firm today?

A: The most difficult thing is combining in a meaningful way the various generations with their expectations and desires. We strive to attract talented people, understanding that they may have unique needs or desires because of family situations. However, different generations tend to approach life and work in their own unique ways, and developing a team approach is often a challenge.

Q: How has the practice of law changed most in the past five to 10 years?

A: Technology has revolutionized the practice of law. Instantaneous communications and client expectations require 24/7 responses. Case management systems and computer software allow for significant downsizing of staff, at the same time creating immediate access to firm work product across the entire firm.

Q:How has technology changed your firm’s practice?

A: We have become far more efficient. Communications with clients and others is immediate, regardless of lack of presence in the office. We are now able to hire and retain talented lawyers with unique needs because of remote access. The quality of research and exchange of legal product across the entire firm has become easier and thus more cost-effective.

Q: What was the biggest case your firm handled successfully in the past year?

A: The case involved a horrible tragedy where a 6-year-old boy witnessed his father murder a third party, murder his brother and then attempt to kill the boy before committing suicide. All of the experts testified that this was one of the most horrific crime scenes they had ever seen. The pictures that were admitted into evidence were graphic, and the story was extremely sympathetic. The firm’s client was a social service organization that agreed to allow the father to be reunited with the son after prior allegations of sexual abuse had been reported. All experts (including the defendants’) testified that the plaintiff suffered from PTSD and would need therapy and medication long term, if not for the rest of his life. The plaintiff’s economic damage claim was over $13 million, and they asked the jury for $17 million. After two days of deliberation, the jury returned a defense verdict.

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