Thoughts on Law and Life From Award-Winning Zeidman
"Thus far at least, no algorithm can substitute for good judgment," says FT columnist Philip Zeidman with DLA Piper, who won the Who's Who Legal Lifetime Achievement Award.
Philip Zeidman, longtime Franchise Times columnist and DLA Piper partner, showed off his way with words when accepting the Who’s Who Legal Lifetime Achievement Award last month, including musing about his early days in the profession as a litigator.
“While it made the adrenaline pump, it frequently seemed to me to put a premium on who could most effectively shift misery from one party to another—an activity which I was never able to persuade myself yielded a net societal gain,” he said at a black tie awards ceremony in London on May 15 and later shared with FT at our request.
Zeidman, an expert on international franchising, said he has been in private practice for 50 years, preceded by a decade of public service—in the military, as a trial lawyer, as a government official and as an “active participant in several political campaigns.”
He counts his work with business owners as a highlight. “For many years I’ve had the gratification of helping entrepreneurs turn ideas into businesses—or sometimes, talking them down from the end of a very high and lonely limb,” he said.
He rejected the idea that the “golden age of law practice” was in the past, as commentators frequently lament. “As nearly as I can tell, what they seem to mean is a time when law students didn’t question tuition, associates didn’t question compensation and clients didn’t question legal fees. Perhaps my memory is fading, but I must tell you that I don’t recall that such a time ever existed.”
He said changes in the profession, nonetheless, are undeniable, and most of the changes to come will lead to the realization that “most of the tasks, done by most lawyers, most of the time, do not require the skills we possess, and can be performed by more junior lawyers, or by non-lawyers, and perhaps by non-humans.” He urged attorneys to embrace that re-alignment, so they can focus on truly lawyerly tasks, and comforts himself with the belief that, “thus far at least, no algorithm can substitute for good judgment.”
Zeidman was honored by Who’s Who Legal “in recognition of his vast contributions to the practice of franchise law and consistently outstanding performance in the publication’s annual rankings.” For nine consecutive years, Zeidman was named Global Franchise Lawyer of the Year by Who’s Who Legal, which surveys attorneys and corporate counsel to rank lawyers in specific disciplines.
To that, we at FT add our own congrats: Good work, Mr. Zeidman, and thanks for an interesting glimpse into the thinking of an attorney at the top of his game.