By Lisa Culbert and Jason Moyse
We hold these truths to be (mostly) self-evident:
- There is an enormous gulf between legal education and the actual skills and traits needed in the current and future legal services market
- The vast majority of those starting careers in legal believe that working at a law firm is the most desirable path
- Yet there are far more graduates then traditional law firm jobs
- Upon joining a top firm, the prospect of making it past year 3 is decidedly low
- Mid-career law firm lawyers now realize that ‘riding it out’ (to partnership or retirement) is resignation, rather than an empowered choice
Maybe it’s time to look at things a little differently?
A few years ago, choosing to work in-house was viewed as “less than” and for those that were looking for things to be “easier” or perhaps lacking skills to make it as a firm lawyer. If you think that today, you are way out of touch!
Just like character based education – perhaps the most transferrable and necessary traits to cultivate are resilience and the ability to navigate ambiguity. Not the strong suit for most lawyers as staid and empirical studies have shown.
The only certainty is that what currently appear to be ‘fringe’ career paths are becoming normalized – but these are not linear trajectories or ‘jobs’ for that matter. Instead, amply dowsed in ambiguity, if not complexity, “alt” careers will be the more informed and enlightened choice.
It’s time to aim for a strategic approach toward being a 21st Century Legal Professional. The New Legal Career must be aligned with Digital Transformation as adroitly set out by Mark Cohen. We often call it the T-Shape Professional, borrowing and building upon the work of the delightful R.Amani Smathers.
Reflecting upon all of the above, we look forward to writing a series which will outline some of the skills and roles that will soon be no more “fringe” than the in-house path. While the picture is still coming into focus, there are some emerging images.
Here is what we will explore with you in the coming weeks:
Part 1 – The Legal Architect & Designer. Lawyers as designers, creators, builders, engineers… really?! Really. This role is being populated with multidisciplinary approaches like that of Smathers as Legal Solutions Architect at Davis Wright Tremaine’s DeNovo and is quickly rising in demand.
Part 2 – The Legal Operations Officer & Project Manager. A strong business-orientation paired with strategic planning, technology-based problem-solving and a cross-functional understanding of the organization – it’s a lot to ask for any professional, let alone a traditionally trained lawyer. We’ll tell you more about how lawyers today are broadening their skill sets to move into Legal Ops and Project Manager roles.
Part 3 – The Legal Analyst & Data Science Expert. There’s no escaping the expanding landscape of big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Many organizations are challenged to navigate this landscape, especially when it comes to compliance and designing ways to use the growing troves of data in a cost-effective, business-enhancing way. The 21st Century Legal Professional will find the way.
Part 4 – The Business Advisor & Industry Expert. The “trusted advisor” role extends beyond legal and demands advisory services and expertise that include a cross-sectional understanding of the core business together with multiple industry and/or organizational verticals. The big 4 accounting firms have already blended delivery of legal services with their financial expertise, and other organizations are increasingly seeking legal support paired with broad industry knowledge and business acumen.
Part 5 – Today and Tomorrow for the 21st Century Legal Professional: We’ll conclude with a summary and recipe for assimilating into the evolving reality of legal services and practical approaches for transition and transformation.
With the right mindset and an openness to change, there’s never been a better time to be in legal services.
Itinerant Legal Counsel And Maker
“Itinerant” meaning “journeying from place to place” and referring to our Legal Counsel and Maker, Lisa’s current global travel journey as she pursues life and work around the world spanning from South America to Europe to Southeast Asia throughout 2017.
As Law Made’s (appropriately juxtaposed) remote, in-residence Legal Counsel and Maker, Lisa has spent the past 6 years practising corporate/commercial law and advising entrepreneurs, start-ups, growth companies and blue chip, global corporations. She has transitioned from Toronto’s Bay Street practicing with Stikeman Elliott LLP to pioneering as the first “Start-up Associate” at Cognition LLP (now Axiom and Caravel Law) to most recently, serving as in-house counsel to one of Canada’s fast-rising global software technology companies – Vision Critical.
At Law Made, Lisa provides legal and business advisory, research and writing expertise to help Law Made make law better. She works together with the Law Made team to create in-house resources and content to help lawyers, technologists, designers, entre/intra-preneurs, program builders, developers and other professionals build their products and services beyond isolated innovations and into practical improvements generating meaningful impacts in the global legal landscape.
Jason Moyse has served on global teams implementing major customer experience initiatives as a connector/doer/spark and key trusted advisor to the C-Suite, Senior Leadership and Governance Teams for legal and business matters.
Jason’s broad background includes private legal practice in high volume commercial litigation as well as serving as in-house counsel at Xerox where he reduced legal spend by 60% and increased recovery from litigation activities by 100% during his tenure.
A lawyer and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Jason is Manager of Legal Business Solutions on behalf of Elevate Services – a next generation legal service provider helping law firms and corporate legal departments improve efficiency, quality and outcomes through consulting, managed services, technology and talent.
A member of various boards centred on legal innovation, he is also the co-founder of Law Made – an agency serving LegalTech startups and Corporates to help the Digital Davids and Enterprise Goliaths dance together through access to capital, clients and markets. Previously, he co-created and executed on the vision of LegalX through the MaRS Discovery District. He has written numerous articles as well as hosted and key noted events focused on startups and the innovative NewLaw fusion of technology, design, process improvement, document automation and lean strategy as applied to legal and advisory services.