As I have made my own observations about the pace of change in the legal profession, and the supposed differences in generations, I have come to the realization that a career in law is a continuum, and that we all slide up and down that continuum as our life cycles change. Law never has been, nor will it ever be a “one-size-fits-all” occupation.
Almost every day I have to remind myself that I have the implicit biases and attitudes of a sixty-something white guy. In our rapidly changing legal profession, there is no shortage of change that is heading-spinning for most senior lawyers. If we don’t open our minds and embrace change, our profession will pass us by. The rise of so-called alternative legal communities is one such example.
There is simply no question that the law firms that will survive and thrive are the ones that will adopt modern business practices. If there is any aspect of management that will be demanded by the rising generation, it will be transparency.
My pitch to you this week is simple. Let’s all break out of the daily routine in which we do things the same way every day. Instead, let’s be mindful of our niche in the law and resolve to practice law better. Let’s resolve to make our profession and our communities better.
One of the new tensions of moving a law firm or legal department toward more businesslike behavior is culture. Critics constantly ask, “Will our culture be ruined?” “Will our culture be changed?” “Should we even be concerned about the impact change may have on culture?” “Does culture matter?”
For busy professionals who love what they do, there is a constant challenge. They simply feel that they don’t have time to live life and stay on top of their legal careers. They constantly are asking themselves and others, “How can you do it all?” One significant question that we often overlook is “What does ‘all’ mean?”
A respected attorney clearly understood that a walk to the courthouse along a busy city street was a chance to bump into other lawyers, friends, clients and prospective clients. He was not going to miss out on that opportunity by taking a shortcut.
For 29 years, Bob Denney of Robert Denney Associates, Inc., has published his annual “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession.” Firm leaders, industry consultants and legal junkies like me have looked forward to Bob’s compilation of industry news. Alas, unless he changes his mind, the 2017 bulletin will be Bob’s last.