When Michael Fishman and I started working together, the practice of law was deeply entrenched in traditionalism. Attorneys were expected to follow a lockstep approach to compensation and advancement, with strict lines of demarcation separating partners, associates, and non-attorney professionals within a law firm. Firm leaders rebuffed efforts to invest in technological tools to simplify and promote the more efficient practice of law for the benefit of fellow professionals and clients. Anything that reduced billable hours was seen as wasteful and unnecessary.
Recognizing that we wanted to approach the practice of law in a fundamentally different way, Mike and I became business partners together on March 1, 1996. Seeds we planted a quarter of century ago now flourish, resulting in a 2020 banner year for Fishman Stewart.
Decades-long investments in technological tools such as cloud-based billing, docketing, and document management, and full digital access to firm files to facilitate remote working and enhanced customer service paid off handsomely, as we seamlessly transitioned to a fully work from home mode last March. Our 2019 implementation of Microsoft® Teams ended up being prescient in retrospect, facilitating communication and reinforcing our firm culture. I anticipate we will be continuing our “all hands” Teams-based weekly meetings long after things return to whatever becomes the new normal, while promoting one-on-one and smaller group “water cooler” interactions. The enhanced sharing of ideas and the ability to promptly translate them into action for the benefit of our colleagues and clients has been exhilarating.
Moreover, despite the ongoing challenges of Covid-19, we continue to welcome new professionals to Fishman Stewart; a half-dozen individuals will have joined us in the first quarter of 2021 alone. One of our incoming clerks was the 2020 winner of the firm’s endowed IP scholarship with Wayne State University law school, while an experienced attorney stationed in Chicago previously worked for the firm as an intellectual property legal assistant. My profound thanks for the development of our new firm intranet, which includes resources ranging from covid-19 protocols to how to send/receive faxes from one’s e-mail along with a series of “how-to” videos that are being prepared to promote virtual onboarding of our new colleagues.
Another accomplishment of 2020 was the launch of our bi-weekly Fish Tank® newsletter. Readership continues to grow with each edition and now numbers in the thousands. Pursuant to multiple requests and associated suggestions, we have finally named the fish mascot on the masthead of each Fish Tank® newsletter. We are pleased to introduce you to Sir Finnegan, known as Finny to his family and friends. A Finny plush toy will be available later this year. In the meantime, Finny’s backstory will be shared on our entirely re-imagined web site, which we will be launching in the next 6 to 8 weeks.
More substantively, the new fishstewip.com website will be much more user focused, including a wide range of resources to facilitate innovation and creativity on your own terms and at no cost. Among the resources we are developing are a series of informative white papers known as “Tacklebox Insights” to complement videos that we continue to post on our YouTube® channel.
As we pivot to our next quarter-century, we reaffirm our commitment as a premier provider of intellectual property services. Thank you for giving us this opportunity.