On November 3, 1968 I appeared before the Ohio Supreme Court and officially became an attorney. I had just completed basic training on that day and was to spend the next two years in the Army. After working in an Army legal office 17 months at Fort Knox and 7 months in Germany (where I met my wife), I returned to Orrville to begin the practice of law in September of 1970.
Things were different. Divorces were completed in three to five months; there was a pre-trial conference with a judge and then a trial if the case was not settled. Most judges could not spell alimony (spousal support) and most of the arguing was over how much child support Dad was going to pay Mom. Today the case can easily take a year or more; there are at least 3 appearances in court prior to trial all of which is done in front of a magistrate. Spousal support is often granted and frequently Dad gets custody or there is shared parenting.
In 1970 if a person died with assets in excess of $60,000 the Federal government taxed the excess; the Ohio Department of Taxation also got their share. Today Uncle Sam does not get involved until Assets exceed 5.4 million and there is no longer an estate tax in Ohio. The elderly did not worry about Medicaid taking their savings because there was no Medicaid.
I could go on and on about the changes because they are significant in every area of the law. It is not the purpose of this article to discuss the merits of these changes, but the point is there have been significant changes.
So what is the same (i.e. the title)? What is the same is that clients’ problems are real. In many instances those problems bring fear, anger, and a sense of helplessness, stress and frustration. What clients looked for in 1970 and what they look for today is an attorney with empathy who can be creative in finding solutions to the quagmire in which they find themselves.
That part of the practice was the same yesterday as it is today and I suspect it will be the same tomorrow. Being able to find creative resolutions to real problems is what makes the legal profession a wonderful place to be and why I find my job so enjoyable.
John W. Kropf