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Becoming the T-shaped lawyer

Becoming the T-shaped lawyer

By Brendan Lacota


Tomorrow’s lawyers need a greater understanding of finance, interpersonal relationships and technology than the lawyers of yesterday. To succeed, lawyers need to understand more than the narrow confines of the law, they must appreciate how legal decisions impact on the complex and multifaceted lives of their clients. Regardless of whether those clients are businesses, families, or people experiencing disadvantage. A “T-shaped” lawyer has a broad set of skills across multiple disciplines at the top of the T as well as a deep set of legal skills and knowledge making up the bottom of the T. The T-shaped lawyer is more than just a tool for reducing risk but can also think beyond the law and bring to bear project management, design thinking and technology skills, becoming a trusted adviser and innovative force for themselves and their clients. As the legal profession moves to large horizontally integrated professional services firms and small ultra-niche boutique law firms with low overheads and low operating costs, a T-shaped lawyer will become desirable to future employers. The skills of a T-shaped lawyer to run their own business effectively and efficiently, to understand their clients’ needs and to be aware of concerns outside of the black-letter law are essential. This doesn’t mean that the T-shaped lawyer must be an expert coder, machine learning guru, or master of the blockchain, but they must understand how these fields fit within the context of their client’s needs.

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