Hi Vedia, lets start with a little background about who you are, where you work and what kind of practice you work in.
I practice with a small intellectual property law boutique in North Carolina, in the Triangle area of North Carolina. I previously practiced in Chicago, and before that in Washington, DC. I’m originally from New York, born in Brooklyn. I was trained as a designer. My undergraduate degree was a bachelor of Fine Arts and Design. And I come to the practice of law from that perspective, which is how I wound up in intellectual property law.
When did you join the Law Practice Division?
Wow. I’ve been in the Law Practice Division from back when it was the Law Practice Management Section, back since the early ‘90s, maybe ’91. I had been serving on the Coordinating Commission on Legal Technology. At that time it was called Standing Committee on Technology and Information Systems of the ABA, and it was chaired by Roberta Cooper Ramo and Chuck Coulter. We also had a lot of other members on the Commission who were active in the Law Practice Management Section and that’s how I learned about the Section and became involved. I think it was Gary Munneke who invited me to become active, but Bill Gibson was there at the time and a lot of other people as well, like Jeff Aresty.
Do you currently serve on any Law Practice committees or in any leadership roles?
Currently no. However, I chaired the section back in 2007 and 2008; and then decided I owed my firm a little bit more of my time. I did chair the Women Rainmakers conference for a couple of terms after that, and now I’m still active with the ABA Women Rainmakers, and I serve on the Magazine Board as well.
What’s your favorite memory or experience with the Law Practice Division?
Wow it’d be hard to pick out one. The best part of being in the Division is the meetings where you really get to interact with members. And that was my original draw. Just being able to have and share at a point of interest. I guess one of my favorite events has always been TechShow. But the quarterly meetings are great too, especially when we launched the ABA Women Rainmakers conference. I think that was probably one of the high points. It was actually launched during my term as Chair.
What is the biggest benefit to having being part of the Law Practice Division?
Being able to interact with like-minded people about things that I’m really interested in. I’ve been active in the Division through all of the various places that I’ve lived and worked; and to be able to maintain that continuity and connection that benefits my practice no matter what I’m doing. I’ve been in-house council when I was in Chicago and now in private practice and still there are always relationships that have helped me to better my practice and my career.
What do you see over the next five to ten years as what the biggest shift in practice management?
Certainly the integration of technology into the law practice has been the biggest shift in practice management over the years. And as technology matures, there are more and more ways technology can benefit a law practice. I don’t know if that’s a major shift, but it certainly going to continue to evolve as probably the most important underpinning in practice. I think that the other thing that’s happening is that law practice is becoming less of an ivory tower type experience, where lawyers get to be distinct from their clients, especially as clients become more demanding of their council. They require more understanding of what they go through, their business needs and personal needs. And if your clients are individuals, lawyers really do need to become more aware of the interests of their clients and beyond just the law.
Are you a Mac or PC?
I would love to work on a Mac. But I can’t really because of the way things are structured in our practice. As a creative person at heart, I think I’m always drawn to the Mac platform. At work I’m on a PC laptop. But most of the time I actually use a PC tablet. Then most of the time work outside of the office I’m on my iPad and iPhone. So I guess I’m in both camps in a way.
What’s the best practice management tip you’ve learned that you could share with readers?
The one thing that has always drawn me in (besides being a technology nut forever) is being able to manage and balance my work through the use of technology and being able to keep in touch with your work and the various parts of your life from wherever you are. So for me it’s being able to use technology wherever I need to be for whenever and whatever needs to be done.
What tool or a piece of technology do you rely on the most?
I guess I love the iPhone, iPad computer combination. To be able to connect all the various calendars and email applications so that they’re constantly with you. So it’s not necessarily one application, but the ability to cross-platform integrate various applications and still have the same data at hand wherever you are.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between what you thought practicing law would be like versus what it actually is?
I had to find my way into law practice because as a naturally creative person it wasn’t a natural fit. So what I found most surprising was that I was able to make that fit. I think I have anyway. My brain works from both a creative perspective and an analytical perspective. And discovering that the law does allow for some creativity once you get the rules. Once you understand the basic rules, you can analyze them and apply them to different things. That’s been very rewarding.
What’s your ideal client?
My ideal client is an innovator. Someone who has an idea and wants to figure out how to provide the legal protection needed to develop the foundation as the business develops and expands.
What would you say is your most lawyer-like characteristic?
My most lawyer-like characteristic is that I’m very analytical and I do a lot of evaluation of things according to how they’re structured and how they meet criteria.
What is your most un-lawyerlike characteristic?
I guess it’s the flipside of that. I’m also instinctively creative and able to see the creative side of things, or see the world from the creative person’s perspective. I think that’s generally not common to a legal profession.
What’s your favorite part of being a lawyer?
When I’m in a room with a group of people who are on various sides of a project and I’m able to help them understand each other’s perspective. It happens a lot when you have inventors and creative people who are trying to figure out how to get a deal done, and the other side of the room is trying to understand what the particulars and the value issues are. And I’m usually able to be a translator there.
Jason Marsh is a digital marketer, and founder of Orlando-based internet marketing agency MARSH8. He frequently writes and speaks on how law firms can implement better online marketing strategies to acquire new clients. Jason is the Chair of the ABA, Law Practice Division, Legal Marketing Interest Group and Editor of Member Spotlight in Law Practice Today.