Innovation and the New Lawyer.
Today, people are talking about the changes in the field of law.
Notable among the changes discussed are the innovations generated by the technology field.
It seems like every day a new start-up sprouts up, with innovative and breakthrough technology.
But does innovation necessarily mean technology?
Some believe that the basis for innovation is in the approach, seeing things in a different light, and that innovation begins first with the new approach.
The technology is the result of a new approach, a tool that expresses and executes the concept upon which the innovative idea is based.
According to common perceptions, a lawyer needs primarily legal knowledge.
A lawyer is perceived as a consultant operating based on knowledge and expertise in the field of law, acting relatively conservatively as a gatekeeper in the context of the wide array of risk a company could face.
But is this enough in today’s business world?
It seems that legal knowledge alone isn’t sufficient anymore.
A lawyer must understand a variety of fields, including business, finance, technology, and executive and corporate issues. In any of these fields, today’s lawyer needs to have a profound understanding and to be able to ask relevant questions.
Business field: Is the deal in which the lawyer is involved consistent with the company’s business model? For example, does it make business sense to enter into an agreement with a distributer, when the company’s policy is to do business directly with the customer?
Financial field: Does the structure of the deal match the revenues expectations of the company?
Technological field: Does the support team have remote access to a product installed in a customer’s site, so that the company is able to comply with its obligations under the Service Level Agreement (SLA)?
Executive field: Does the lawyer understand the concerns of management?
Corporate field: Does the lawyer understand the processes and systems of the company? Does the lawyer understand the interfaces of the different functions, and how the legal functions fit into the organization?
Even more important are the questions regarding the attitude of the new lawyer, and how the new lawyer perceives the work. Herein lies the innovation, and several issues arise from the following two key questions:
Is the lawyer merely a professional consultant who provides answers for questions that arise, and raises alarms and flags for decision makers? Or is today’s lawyer a consultant-manager who is responsible for specific areas and who can differentiate between critical and less critical issues, and act as a decision maker?
From these key questions arise the following issues:
Is today’s lawyer someone who consults from the "outside" as an additional voice, or is today’s lawyer an embedded and inseparable part of the organization?
What is today’s lawyer’s primary area of focus: the legal field only, or the business field with the legal work taking second place and supporting the business?
How does today’s lawyer fit into the organization, and how does the lawyer support its activity?
The innovation lies in the approach of the new lawyer, who must adjust to the modern business world in several ways:
Today’s lawyer needs to be a solutions supplier: a “gaps closer:” The lawyer needs to bring before the management prioritized possible solutions that have been examined thoroughly for every eventuality, together with a clear recommendation.
Taking the organization to the next level: Today’s lawyer must be able to see the more comprehensive perspective and understand how the lawyer’s job now includes helping the client advance its objectives. The traditional legal approach of raising all possible risks, while “intimidating” the client does not necessarily push the client forward.
Focusing practically on the things that matters most: Today’s lawyer needs to focus on the essential subjects, rather than talking endlessly about theoretical topics.
Keeping it simple: Today’s lawyer needs to use clear and precise wording, with short passages.
Executives and organizations are looking for partners, and today’s lawyer is an inseparable part of the organization.
Protecting legal interests is important, but effective legal consulting can promote the business as well.
The job of the new lawyer is to support the growth of the company, and even lead it forward without compromising on its legal interests.