By LISA MONTI
Butler Snow’s John Dollarhide has been practicing law for just five years but he sees the changes technology is making in his profession over that short period.
“It’s certainly having an effect on the practice of law, on how we work with clients and on how we work with other lawyers,” said the president-elect of the Jackson Young Lawyers Association.
One simple way to gain information is through social media. If someone is making claims about injuries and posts photos that tell a different story, it’s evidence that’s hard to defend.
“Lawyers used to hire a private detective,” he said. “Now they get on Facebook or Instagram and can see photographs.”
Also, he said, more courts have online filing today than a few years ago. “One court system had filing when I started but now there are more than 15 or 20. One day every court will have it,” he said.
A Jackson native, Dollarhide is part of Butler Snow’s Commercial Litigation Group and Pharmaceutical, Medical Device and Healthcare Industry Team. He’s also part of the firm’s E-Discovery Task Force and has written extensively about electronic discovery, the litigation process that involves information in electronic format.
More complex technology issues are coming up in the practice of law, he said, “and that runs the gamut from Bitcoin to ID thefts and data breaches. “The legal profession still lags behind in technology but it is catching up at a much faster rate than in the past,” he said.
Dollarhide received his Juris Doctorate degree summa cum laude from Mississippi College, where he was articles editor of the Law Review. He graduated magna cum laude from Mississippi State University with a bachelor’s of science in psychology.
He has been involved in the Jackson Young Lawyers Association for several years, and his involvement with JYL has been beneficial to developing his practice:
“It adds a lot because it’s kind of a one-stop shop for me in that I get a lot of networking out of the quarterly membership meetings, the social events and our activities,” he said. After losing touch with fellow students after graduation, he said, “it’s an excellent way to get people back together in life in general and in the practice of law.”
He calls the association a one-stop shop for community service activities because of its two annual fundraisers. The Legal Beagle 5K in March raised more than $7,000 for the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project, which offers legal services to those with low incomes. The Costumes & Cornhole (bean bag toss) Contest and Tournament in October raised more than $2,000 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Mississippi.
Dollarhide is a strong believer in professional association involvement and the personal relationships it fosters. “I would encourage other young lawyers and young bankers and insurance agents to get involved with other people in their industry,” he said. “It’s more about not having people sitting the office and working on their computer. It’s about getting out and networking with other people in their age group and industry.”
It’s also a good counterbalance in today’s workplace “where 95 percent of communication is done electronically,” he said.
“Personal, face-to-face networking encourages young attorneys to maintain civility and professionalism in their daily practice of law, and that’s extremely important.”