One of us (Paul) had the oppor­tu­nity last week to speak to Richard Susskind’s con­fer­ence in Scot­land on the future of law, enjoying one of the great expres­sions from Richard: “Most clients would rather have a guardrail at the top of the hill rather than an ambu­lance at the bottom.” While that’s undoubt­edly true of clients, the pro­fes­sional cul­ture in law (and other fields) tends to value the “brain sur­geon” work responding to crises more than the civil engi­neer (or worse, “com­modity”) work that simply pre­vents calamity.

The other of us (Jeremy) has had a series of con­ver­sa­tions over the years with many leading attor­neys who rep­re­sented top man­age­ment in large orga­ni­za­tions. A common lament has his­tor­i­cally been: “The hardest part of my job … is get­ting clients to include us in the early stages of a project so we could plan to keep things moving for­ward, rather than hearing from man­age­ment only after bad deci­sions had been made.” Given law schools’ tra­di­tional class­room ori­en­ta­tion to “causes of action” rather than problem pre­ven­tion, it’s under­stand­able that many lawyers found them­selves waiting by the ambu­lance rather than at the top of the hill.

Read the article at ABA Journal →