Chris Dix, a shareholder at Smith Hulsey & Busey, is chair of the Jacksonville Bar Association Legal Technology Committee and president of the Association of Certified E-discovery Specialists Jacksonville Chapter.
Who or what inspired you to become a lawyer? In my fourth year as an accounting major, I realized that I did not want to be an accountant for the rest of my life. Going to law school provided me with three more years to figure out my future career plans (and also three more years of student tickets for Gator football games). As a law student, I became inspired to practice law upon graduation, especially during my time on the University of Florida Moot Court Team.
How do you relate your undergraduate education to your practice of law? Warren Buffett often says, “Accounting is the language of business.” As an attorney and CPA, my degree helps me advise clients regarding business disputes because I speak that language.
How did you decide your practice area? And why have you chosen that? I always have enjoyed working with computers and technology. When I became an attorney, it was a natural fit for me to focus on electronic discovery, cybersecurity, data privacy breaches and other areas where there is an intersection between law and technology.
What has been the biggest change in your practice area since you passed the Bar? When I started practicing law, we filed pleadings at the courthouse and served pleadings on opposing counsel by mail or fax. Now we are required to file and serve pleadings and documents electronically. While electronic filing and electronic service have dramatically reduced the volume of paper documents we generate and store in a case, the volume and variety of evidence related to a case have dramatically increased. Letters and other forms of physical evidence have largely been replaced by emails, text messages and social media postings as the primary forms of evidence, especially in civil cases.
What do you think will be the next biggest change in your area of law? State and federal data privacy laws will be strengthened as politicians find some rare common ground in responding to the increase of data breaches and other privacy-related harms that affect everyone. Attorneys will use automation and artificial intelligence to practice law more efficiently and cost-effectively. Attorneys who ignore these trends and technologies will find it difficult to continue providing quality legal services to their clients.
What community service have you pursued and why that? I enjoy teaching, whether it’s kids on a baseball field or attorneys in a courtroom. Helping people become better versions of themselves is inspiring to me.
What’s your advice for new lawyers? Never go to a meeting without a pen and paper (or the digital equivalent). Actively search out and find mentors, even if you have to look outside of your firm or practice area.