By Dan Phillips
This August will mark the 32nd year I have been involved in the best career anyone could ask for. I always get a little sentimental this time of year because I feel like most of the people who were once clients are now friends. You know who you are! But I must say that most of you live and work in the San Antonio area. When I left Dallas in 1985 and moved to this area, I met many of you who were young attorney’s trying to make a living at Groce, Locke and Hebdon. Out of that one firm so many of you formed partnerships and now have your own practices with many years to reflect. The one thing that set many of you apart from so many others was friendliness. I must say that this is the one thing that I have enjoyed through out the time I have spent working with you. So it is to those guys that are no longer clients but true friends! Thank you for being a part of my dream!
What has changed in all those years? Well I often have thought about so many things that were a part of the private investigator’s world in 1979 that has changed over the years. Take a look at the following and you will get a kick out of what was then as opposed to now.
Window Tint – Would you believe that I drove a Mercury Bobcat with absolutely no tint in 1979. It was unusual to see cars with tint then. Usually only stretch limos had it. Yet I can remember sitting in the middle of an apartment complex somewhere with all kinds of people looking my way!
Super 8 – There is a new movie out by the same name that is pretty accurate as to having to have it processed etc. I can remember shooting super 8 film instead of video tape! It came 50 feet per cartridge. If we shot 200 to 250 feet of film we had a lot of “evidence”. But we had to take it to a process lab and then go pick it up. Once we picked it up we had to take each reel and splice it together before sending to the client.
Video Tape – Can’t harp enough on the technology! I can remember vividly the angst everyone had over the transition from Super 8 film to video tape because everyone thought the fact that it could be erased was going to cause problems with authentication. It never happened. Having video tape was probably one of the best advances in my career.
License Plate Registration – I remember going to the pay phone and calling a contact with the police department to run a plate! Kind of like James Garner in the Rockford Files! Now we can run vehicles through Accurint and IRB Search before we even go to the residence and know what they probably will be driving.
Cell Phones – Those darn pay phones! How many dimes did I lose back then? The cell phone helped the private investigator stay where he was supposed to stay more than anything else in the last 32 years! They started out in a bag then became bricks! But no matter the evolution, their value has not diminished during the years.
Word Processors – This one is easy and it has to do with Spell Check! In the old days we dealt with messy carbon paper and often the White Out corrections were not kept in the copy that was made with the carbon paper. Spell Check helped so many of the great investigators that were not such good typist.
Information Technology – I mentioned above the ability to know before you get there what a subject of an investigation may be driving. Today we can run a very detailed background check on that person as well to know who or what he or she may be up to. In the old days, it was having to develop a police department contact with access to the same information!
Email – What can we not send now? Back in the day we would have LOL at the idea. Some would have said WTF is that? Email has had its draw backs though. It has made actually seeing the people you work with on cases a thing of the past. Remember all of those fun lunches?
Discovery – The old days were definitely more fun when you could go sit outside the court room where a personal injury case was getting started with a Projector, screen and a canister of film. Made the plaintiffs in the day settle by thinking there was damaging evidence on his client even though we had nothing but props!