About The "Office"

When I graduated from Pepperdine Law School in 1976 and started practicing law in Long Beach, CA with my late mentor, Harold Adams, we were in the technological stone age.  Research was done using "books" (remember books?) in a large law library which had to be very expensively updated every month by a person whose sole job was to do law library updates.  You took a book from the shelf, plunked it down on a long conference table, laboriously turned paper pages until you found something relevant to the case you were working on.  There you found legal cases and statutes that might have to be checked out.  So back to the book shelf for another book and another book and another book. . .

Notes were taken and, at some point, you would feel that you were ready to write.  So you got out your pen and yellow legal pad and started scribbling.  When you wanted to quote something from a book, you would take it to the copy machine, place it face down, copy a page or two, and then literally "cut and paste" the target language onto a page in your yellow pad.  Yes children - that's where "cut and paste" comes from . . .

Then it was time to prepare your work to be filed with the Court and, for that, the office staff of "typists" used "typewriters" and made duplicates using "carbon paper".  The office was not quiet.  You heard the clickety-clack of typewriters all day and occasionally heard a typist curse when he/she had to make a correction using whiteout - white for the original and yellow for the carbons.  Walking down the hallway you would hear attorneys endlessly yapping with other attorneys and billing for every minute on telephones which were each attached to the wall with tangled spiral cords.

When the typists were finished with their work , copies were made and our process server would come to the office to pick them up.  They would then be physically delivered to the Court Clerk and served on the opposing party.

It was just awful.

I worked for old Harold for a little over a year and then opened my own office with my partner, Timothy Lashlee.  We were "Kinsey and Lashlee" until 1997 when I opened a solo practice on Main Street in Seal Beach.  Working in Seal Beach is like working in Paradise but all good things must come to an end and, in 2013 I moved into semi-retirement, cut my case load down by 90%,  and took the practice home.  By that time technology had progressed to the point where you didn't need an office or a support staff.

My secretary has been replaced by a 24/7 answering service based in Virginia and I receive notice of all calls via text to my phone and email to my computers.  Calls are generally returned same day.  There is not a single law book in my home office since all necessary legal resources are online.  My office address is a UPS mailbox.  My associates are all available via phone, email, and Zoom.  Though I have the use of a friend's physical office to meet clients if it is absolutely necessary, I find that it is almost never is and I often don't see clients in-person until we have a court hearing.

No books - no drafting by hand - no physical "cut and paste" - no typewriter - no carbon paper - no whiteout - court filing is done electronically - most communication with other attorneys is via email and not using a telephone attached to the wall - and on and on. . .

And guess what - clients generally love it.  Who wants go get into the car every time you have to meet with your attorney or sign a document?  If you want to see your attorney while you are talking to him/her, you can just fire up Zoom.  The law now permits signatures to be applied electronically or clients can just sign documents, scan them, and send them back to me.  They are then electronically uploaded to the Court and, where necessary, electronically sent to our process server.

I'm fully aware that many clients want an attorney in a three-piece suit who meets them in a corner office at the end of a room filled with cubicles in downtown L.A. and they are perfectly willing to pay for his/her overhead .  If you are one of those clients, I'm not your man.  My clients need to be comfortable with what technology allows us to do these days.

- Gene Kinsey