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Alpha Law: Kill or be Killed!

by Gavin Ward on June 26, 2010

Alpha Law JusticiaI have just received this curious little read from Amazon by Stefancic and Delgado written back in 2005 entitled ‘How Lawyers Lose their Way: A Profession Fails its Creative Minds’. Written by two US law school professors, it portrays, in no uncertain terms, a rather bleak picture of the landscape of the legal and other top professions…And that was in 2005!

The Crucible: New Millenium Recession Edition

Although various areas of practice have weathered the crunch well and, indeed, some have thrived, what we are starting to see now in 2010 as the dust of recession begins to settle is a new streamlined era of practice. Will it be any different from what the authors saw as the legal and business worlds five years ago? Will firms encourage and foster innovative thinking and continue to concentrate on development of professional skills in what is unequivocally the greatest melting pot of professional challenges in decades (Arthur Miller, Salem and protagonist John Proctor reworked all come to mind)? Or will they take a more cautious stance and revert to repetition of traditional practices, possibly at their peril?!

The alpha of any species, by inherent definition, is able to adapt quickly and well to change. It’s now time for lawyers, firms and the profession as a whole to adopt that alpha mentality; for many, it’s time to sink or swim.

Make no mistake, today’s legal market is challenging. Earlier this week Halliwells went under for various reasons, property prices among the many.

Creativity in the workplace?

Creativity is often expounded on the home pages of law firms as a major selling point, but do all of these firms harbour powered people that have the enthusiasm, motivation or perhaps courage to voice unique ideas, blaze different paths and ultimately achieve better results for clients, even in a bull market?! Perhaps. Indeed, perhaps in a bear market it is more natural for this type of character to be summoned; to be able to fight for their career and own personal growth. Maybe, however, for some, it’s just lip-service, leeching and copy-catting of the expression that industry leaders use to describe how they actually operate for their clients.

A little less negativity, a little more action, please

While I do wonder how such a title of a book can ever be a good thing, even in getting a potential message across, it does state quite clearly its aim to provide a flare gun warning against what is described as excessive formalism and commoditisation. I think a better title would be along the lines of ‘how the legal profession can nourish creativity to weather the recessional storm’. Although such optimism probably wouldn’t sell as many books!

Genius

It is said that genius, if it does exist, is a product of the synergy between the almae matres of logic and creativity, from both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Ten years ago, Stephen Grossman, author of Innovation, inc., stated that:

“Those who try to separate logic and creativity are doomed to failure. Logic is the tool with which we eat the meal. If we don’t like steak, we don’t throw away the fork; we change our order; It’s only logical.”

(from Innovative Leader Volume 8, Number 12, December 1999 ). I hope to see the authors give credence to this thinking in the next few chapters.

Innovation and ABS

Bringing this discussion back down to earth, in the next few years, I wonder whether the introduction of alternative business structures (ABS) in the legal systems of the UK will exacerbate what the authors suggest we should try to avoid; or maybe it will produce better management and development of lawyers. I suppose we’ll just have to work through it or sit back, and, in either case, watch what happens…

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Gavin Ward
+Gavin Ward is the founder of WardBlawg, Director of YouBlawg Limited and Operations Director at Moore Legal Technology Limited, specialising in helping law firms, lawyers and businesses grow their businesses online and aiming to help get great legal content published and shared across the web. Gavin created this law blog or ‘blawg’ to aim to contribute useful updates, thoughts and advice to help law firms, businesses and the legal profession in the UK and across the world succeed both online and offline.

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