Advice to Young Lawyers: Stay Ahead of the Technology Curve

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As a part of our series of DISCO client interviews, I had the pleasure of interviewing Greg Leighton, Partner at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP, about his career and the various changes his career has undergone, influenced by new technology and today’s shifting legal landscape.

Alicia: To start, tell us a bit about your practice at Neal Gerber Eisenberg. What does your case load entail?

Greg: Because I am a partner in our Intellectual Property & Technology Transactions practice group, as well as a registered patent attorney, a significant portion of my practice involves not only patent prosecution but also the protection of various forms of intellectual property. In recent years, however, that practice has expanded to incorporate counseling clients regarding domestic and international privacy concerns, mitigating the risks of data breaches with the development of privacy policies and structuring better ways to have their data flow across borders, developing efficient and effective information governance plans, and finally using Big Data to collaborate with them to uncover hidden value residing within resources they may not even be aware they have.

Alicia: What challenges did you face soon after you started? How did you manage to reconfigure your practice?

Greg: When I first began to practice law, I was heavily involved in the ediscovery side of intellectual property litigation. This was a very valuable experience for me because it exposed me to various technologies and gave me depth of experience with how clients use the technologies to improve their operations. In fact, one of the great technologies I encountered in this capacity was CS DISCO.

We are all aware, though, that as ediscovery became more automated it also became more outsourced, and various other market factors simultaneously began to affect that sort of work as well, and so I along with my colleagues in that practice area began to consider just where it was that we could find and add value for our clients given or backgrounds and skill sets. Around this time the number and severity of client data breaches began its upward trajectory. It turned out to be a very good move that I became a Certified Information Privacy Professional. Because I had stayed in front of the technological curve, I was able to reposition myself as a valued resource to those seeking assistance in the data privacy and information governance arenas. And in some ways that I couldn’t have recognized before or while it was going on, this ended up being a very good thing for my career. For instance, I was able to be seen as more of a trusted partner, and this was good for building relationships and developing business.

Alicia: Any advice for younger lawyers about how to respond to future challenges?

Greg: If I’ve learned anything, it’s to try to stay professionally nimble. Keep yourself ahead of the technology curve so that you are able to adapt. Old ways of doing business, accepted methodologies, and what were once the latest technologies are constantly being discarded as new ones are adopted. I would hope that any young lawyers reading this will be reassured when I tell them that these advances in technologies, in combination with what can seem to be a shifting, unsteady legal landscape, need not be a career death sentence. Clients will always need assistance and advice in incorporating newness as technological boundaries are pushed and explored. Help yourself by always being in the position to be that trusted resource for them.

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Alicia Brewer