It is with great pleasure that I write this article for the New York Law Journal in this year’s Law Day edition on the topic of “Law in the 21st Century: Enduring Traditions, Emerging Challenges.”
I am a second generation lawyer, having been practicing law with my father, Guy R. Vitacco Sr., for the past 21 years. So I have first hand knowledge of enduring traditions but also am seeing emerging challenges here in the 21st century with regard to the practice of law, especially in Queens County, New York.
With the advancement of the computer age and beyond, the legal profession has evolved and lawyers are forced to become hi-tech efficient in the practice of law. As president of the Queens County Bar Association I am aware that most of our members are small and solo practitioners. With the advancement of technology it has become more and more expensive to run a small and solo law office, with the computer age and all the expensive technology to keep up with the larger firms.
In doing this we have to be cognizant of our client base. The lawyers of Queens County cannot push on the cost of the emerging challenges, greater expense to run a practice, to the regular average everyday citizens of Queens County, our clients.
In these tough economic times we have to be aware that our clients need us more than ever to handle their legal matters in a cost effective way, and yet with up-to-date technology.
In addition, new legislation allows for the establishment of a pilot program for mandatory e-filing in certain Supreme Court cases. The federal courts have had mandatory e-filing for some time, but now it is coming to the state courts.
This again is an added expense and burden to the small and solo practitioners. It seems that the pilot program is just the start and will be the norm in the near future.
Never before have expenses such as cell phone bills, Internet connection, laptops, WiFi, Web pages, etc., been incorporated in a small and solo practitioner’s law office. On top of that the attorneys have to become familiar with modern day technology by taking courses, etc. The age of e-mailing, texting, twittering and more seems like it is here to stay.
This is what we are facing and will face as the law in the 21st century emerges, and it is up to us to meet these challenges and in doing so continue the traditions of the legal profession and our duty to our clients, who are struggling in these tough economic times. However, having been around for a while, I know that the legal profession and the lawyers, especially those of Queens County, will rise to the occasion and continue to provide legal services to all citizens of our fine county.
So another Law Day passes and the legal profession looks at the law in the 21st century, its enduring traditions and emerging challenges.
Guy R. Vitacco Jr. is a partner with Vitacco and Vitacco in Elmhurst.