I’m not a lawyer, I’m a race car driver. Before telling you why this matters at all, perhaps I should augment the “About Me” section of this blog with some personal reflection. I retired from the company I served for over 20 years – yes, a bit early. I left my seat at the table at a major corporation not because I was tired, or done, or frustrated, or conflicted – I left because I wasn’t done. I’m worried about the future of the legal profession. It is pricing itself out of reach of normal people and companies – and that’s the real tragedy of today’s legal market – the real access to justice problem does not involve just the poor, the oppressed, the weak, and the disenfranchised – it involves each and every one of us who needs reliable, affordable, and access to practical legal advice and counsel. If it doesn’t fix itself, the legal services industry as we know it today will be irrelevant and customers will find new ways. If we don’t build it ourselves, we have neither the right to complain about what results, nor the assurance that we’ll have any role in the waves of change to come.
So, back to those seemingly different “About Me” roles. In each of those roles — except for maybe the race car driver – the primary attribute, the distinguishing feature, is not knowledge but wisdom – or what some might call judgment. Knowledge can be taught. Experience gained. But wisdom is that “secret sauce” of the practical application to the situation presented. Access to, and delivery of, that practical knowledge is what really makes the teacher, the parent, the counselor– and yes the lawyer– relevant and ultimately valued. All too often, our wisdom is disregarded and mistakes and problems occur. But the very best do not judge. They don’t say “I told you so” or “If only you’d listened.” No, the very best understand that the past cannot be changed – it can only form the basis for behavior in the future. And just like the best teacher is not only a great lecturer, the best lawyer is not the smartest or the most polished advocate. The very best of the best demonstrate and walk their own talk. The very best in our profession are counselors, not lawyers.
But why do I mention this race driver thing? Many race drivers are a lot like many lawyers – brash, smart, individual contributors, leaders not followers. But the very best drivers understand the value of teamwork and planning. Races are won from preparation, and the best preparation is based on focusing on what went well and what not so much in past performances. The performance phase of the P3 circle of Plan-Perform-Perfect is actually the least important of the three – but that’s where the glory is. That’s where the heroic act, the brilliant pass, the skillful navigation though a pile up, the incredibly quick pit stop, can be witnessed. Innate talent can make a difference sporadically, but only relentless planning, immaculate teamwork, and selfless reflection to improve provide the consistent platform for sustainable success.
I’ve started this blog because I want to explore these areas, issues and ideas. I’m sure I’ll digress from time to time, but I’m committed to returning to a very a simple proposition: The best legal problem is the one you never have. That’s what prevention is all about. That’s the future of law. That’s NextLaw. That’s why we’ve created ValoremNext. That’s its vision and its mission.
I hope you’ll stay tuned. I hope you’ll join this conversation. But even more than that, I hope you’ll join me on this journey.