One of my favorite quotes of the past ten years is by the author Philip Caputo who wrote “we drink greedily from the salt water of information while our throats are parched for droplets of wisdom.” So it seems that our world edges ever closer to the inevitable conclusion that all of the information we have is useless because we do not know what to do with it. I suppose I am not so pessimistic. Mankind has always found a way to adapt to the technological changes that have a profound effect on our lives. We survived the automobile and the telephone in this century alone. The computer will be assimilated into the 21st century and our lives will be better. It leaves the question of the moment, however, which is “how do we actually USE all of this information?”
The answer is one that is constantly morphing along with the changes in technology. There are certain guidelines that I try to use to keep the torrent of information under control:
1. Under commit. It took some time to decide to actually do this blog. It is not worth doing unless it is to be taken seriously. Committing to too many different kinds of information attachments creates confusion and erodes credibility. Like Gram said about the buffet line; take all you want but eat all you take;
2. Set limits. The telephone revolutionized communication but it created a situation where too much needless communication was done and it actually became counterproductive at times. Like limiting a teenager’s time on the phone after school, we have to decide how much time and information is productive and where it no longer serves its best purpose. An example is legal research. Lawyers have mountains of case summaries at their fingertips, far more than ever before. Processing, understanding and organizing all of that information takes precious time and energy. There are few cases where a ton of legal research is necessary. Managing ALL of our resources is an art and a skill that brings success and results that any lawyer strives for;
3. Narrow the focus by learning. I first touched a computer keyboard in college. Advances in software are not things that I process or accept easily. I resist it whenever I can. The reality is that old dogs HAVE to learn new tricks in this day and age to stay competitive. I try to keep an open mind and learn something new about the power of my computer each day. I ask for help when I need it which is often. I try to jettison the cumbersome processes and focus on what works, what information is valuable to me and can be used most efficiently;
4. Integrate experience. Law practice is still a people centered business. Instant communication of information does not mean a response has to be shot back in an hour. Cases some times have to ripen. A non-response is often a very powerful response. Using the information available in the context of years of experience is what gives each client the very best of his or her lawyer’s talent.
The list above grows and changes each day of my practice in the areas of Criminal, Family Law and General Litigation. I strive to find the “pearls of wisdom” by using the information I have as best I can with thought, consideration, and realistic expectations of my self and others. I try to make each day a little better than the last so that I can best serve my clients and the legal system.
By: Kent M. Barker