No Lawyer Is An Island

Last updated: 01-31-2021

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No Lawyer Is An Island

Law doesn’t just exist on an island, miles from anywhere else. It does not and cannot stand by itself. It needs businesses, governments, and culture to keep it alive. So, then, why do we try to isolate it? Wouldn’t that just weaken it? Independence doesn’t always come in the form of strength. In fact, it is often a weakness, barely covering up arrogance or ignorance.

The legal industry is riddled with tradition, and, rather ironically, some of those traditions have no logical explanation. There is a certain expectation of how you should carry yourself, what you should wear, even rules dictating the interior design of your office! The scary thing is that we seem more interested in talking about these insignificant things than in discussing the future of law, cases, clients, or a plethora of other topics.

Law is a bit like milk; when we first start out in life, all we drink is milk, and it’s really important for our growth, but as we get older, we start to drink other things — hot chocolate, tea, coffee — and we realize that milk is okay by itself, but it’s incredible when mixed with other things. The conversation about the future of law is the same way.

Now think about how much coffee you drink. Try replacing all of that with just milk. You’d be missing out on so much flavor and aroma! It’s time we start to taste and savor cappuccinos, mochas, and chai lattes. We need to step beyond the conventional, trivial conversations, and look into the different law fusions available to us. (By the way, if you don’t know what a law fusion is, you should really read this article).

The most obvious fusion would be the intersection between law and business, particularly evident in the case of in-house lawyers. In-house lawyers are much more than just a legal team. They are stakeholders in the business, peers, and colleagues who are actively involved in decision-making and ideating. They need to understand, measure, and follow business trends, expanding on or optimizing them using their legal expertise.

In-house lawyers apply business thinking in a legal context. Not only that, but they also draw on any other of a variety of expertise to fuel creative problem-solving. Catherine McGregor covers all of this, adding some fascinating thoughts on how she uses her background in drama within her in-house role. If you want to hear more, you can here:

So, business and law are a combination not unlike your standard cappuccino. It takes milk, steamed a little, and mixed in with a shot of dynamic cadence. If we really want to stimulate our palette with different flavors, we’re going to have to go for something more relevant, but less known. I’m talking about green tea.

I had the privilege of interviewing James Strange on my podcast. The episode is below, but the gist of what he shared was quite a unique story of his journey from studying photography, to solar technology installation, to studying law with a focus on renewable energy and affiliated policies. These experiences are honestly so different that I had to choose green tea because, even though you don’t normally drink it with milk, it’s a unique mixture that James metaphorically drinks. His innovative approach is gaining traction, though, and hopefully, it will soon be more of an iced mocha latte, no less innovative or enjoyable, but much more well known.

Our last order is quite a tall one for traditional lawyers. Australian in-house Mel Scott shared her experiences with personal branding … for in-house lawyers. She has whipped up something of a dirty chai latte here. It has that espresso shot of dynamism and energy, mixed with the ever-popular and distinct taste of chai, the social media flavor that permeates everything hot and growing. Then the mixture is infused with the law to great success.

Mel has managed to build a supportive and engaging community that has connected her with like-minded people, creating opportunities for her to speak on various platforms –- like my podcast. She has raised awareness of alternative legal paths while inspiring creative thinking for her work challenges. Her personal and audience-based approach is well suited for integrating law with the rest of society.

Are you still drinking milk? Or have you explored other options?

Law was not designed in isolation, nor can it thrive in it. It’s about time we raised awareness around integrating it for a much more powerful effect.

Olga V. Mack is the CEO of Parley Pro, a next-generation contract management company that has pioneered online negotiation technology. Olga embraces legal innovation and had dedicated her career to improving and shaping the future of law. She is convinced that the legal profession will emerge even stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive than before by embracing technology. Olga is also an award-winning general counsel, operations professional, startup advisor, public speaker, adjunct professor, and entrepreneur. She founded the Women Serve on Boards movement that advocates for women to participate on corporate boards of Fortune 500 companies. She authored Get on Board: Earning Your Ticket to a Corporate Board Seat and Fundamentals of Smart Contract Security. You can follow Olga on Twitter @olgavmack.


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