I stumbled across a really interesting insight piece when preparing for a meeting with a management consultancy and it lured me in with its promise to explain what a T-shaped lawyer is and why it is necessary. The full piece can be found here and I have used it as the basis for my own take on what it means to the world of law.
Firstly though, I thought it would be good to get an accurate definition of what everyone means when they describe the T- shaped lawyer. Thomson Reuters define he or she as the following: ''The T- shaped lawyer combines deep legal knowledge and skills with the ability to collaborate across multiple disciplines.''
This definition is particularly interesting for a few reasons. We are constantly told by our law firm clients that cross selling between lawyers and departments is an often unachievable goal and this is mainly because fee earners are specialists and experts often in one singular discipline. It is also very apparent that lawyers often do what they know best which is to advise on the law. Clients are now demanding a lot more and the T-shaped lawyer needs to embrace the following skillset:
- Business Knowledge and skills (project management for instance)
- The ability to combine legal and business knowledge
- Communication skills
- Commercial and business development skills
- Emotional intelligence and a full range of soft skills like empathy (don't laugh!)
The article also highlights the fact that this modern lawyer needs to be able to build relationships and very importantly, trust. This is echoed in the most recent trust barometer produced by Edelman.
If lawyers don't start to learn and embrace these new strings to their bow, then there are a number of threats mainly driven by client needs including technology in the form of robotic replacement (for some areas), being left behind rivals, and new competitors on the scene.
Interesting times ahead.
‘T-shaped’, a word commonly used in branding, means that an individual has both a breadth of knowledge, and a depth of expertise in a particular area of that knowledge.