The law industry has a problem that has been looming for a number of years and it starts at the grass routes of how lawyers and trained and developed. Whilst the industry continues to harness technology and looks to innovate at pace, fast-forwarded even more so during the lockdown, the lawyers coming through the ranks are still taught with a massive emphasis on being technical and with the aim of academic excellence.
Dan Kayne - General Counsel (Regions) at Network Rail, firmly believes that this traditional route to becoming a lawyer has run its course and that with the new SQE (Solicitors Qualifying Exam) coming into play in 2021, the opportunity to open up the demographic provides the greatest way to radically alter the way in which lawyers are trained and developed. Dan feels very strongly that there needs to be leadership in this area and has developed the O Shaped lawyer initiative to make law as a whole better for everyone.
What exactly does an O Shaped Lawyer look like though and are they really the lawyers of the future?
Dan's definition is a well-rounded person who combines technical competence with a more human and emotionally intelligent approach. The initiative is certainly O Shaped and breaks down into four key areas....beginning with O of course.
Open- Lawyers will have an open mindset and won't be afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone or taking risks. They recognise that whilst they will have to work hard, they will also need to embrace new ways of working along the way. Expressing feelings, prioritising the wellbeing of colleagues whilst helping to foster this culture is integral.
Opportunistic- They see change as an opportunity and will embrace it to shape both theirs and their organisation's futures. New and uncomfortable environments will be explored to gain new and helpful experiences.
Original- O Shaped lawyers will think innovatively and look to solve problems with creativity. This will often lead to mistakes being made but learned from.
Ownership- The future lawyer will want to banish the 'just a lawyer' tag and take accountability for all areas that will help progress a transaction whilst supporting the objectives of their clients. Even if the areas aren't purely legal.
Optimistic- O Shaped lawyers will look to work in collaboration with clients and will focus on the positive aspects to always be at the forefront of progression. This will enhance their reputation as a great business partner.
Dan argues that current lawyers are sometimes too focused on what they do instead of how they do it. Instead, future lawyers should incorporate a sharp intellect with understanding, compassion and emotional intelligence.
"People will forget what you said and what you did but they will never forget how they made you feel." Maya Angelou
O Shaped Lawyers are the next generation of lawyers. They are well-rounded people who combine technical competence with a more human, emotionally intelligent approach. These "smarts and hearts" will define the next generation of lawyers entering the legal profession.