To wake up naked…

Just in time for rebirth!

Review by Max Hubner, Director Corporate Legal and Tax at PGGM, Utrecht, Netherlands.

The good fairy

Where do I begin? That early morning a few months ago? It sure was way past midnight. It was, as I recall, close to dawn. The evening before I came home from work and found her there. On the doormat. Signed, sealed and (quite important) delivered: ‘Tomorrow’s naked lawyer’. Cheeky as she can be. Surely she did not plan to write the book. Prrrrrrrrrr. As I did not plan to write this review. Who cares? Does my humble opinion on nudity, lawyers and clients add anything? I guess not and still I love to share my thoughts with you. To help you. To wake up naked too. Like me a few years ago.

First off all I am not a client. I am a general counsel. I deliver in house legal services to my company and its institutional relations. Law firms help me to add value by delivering their selected legal services. Don’t get me wrong. You have to deal with me if you want a piece of my client’s cake. But I am NOT your client! Then why is it so important to wake up naked and be just in time for rebirth? Let us get back to Chrissie.

She not only paved the way for some (mostly entrepreneurial) lawyers the past ‘hurricane’ years, but she truly disrupted the scene. The scene she refers to as law law land, where I have come to know it as the scene where general counsel and lawyers try to convince me that they genuinely wish to change but do not want to. Today they still send in the clowns or well-known recommended speakers with stories that, as are the jokes about a chauffeur and Einstein, warmed over. They applaud and share amongst each other the reasons why they can (aka do) not change the game. But they can. If they are willing to get out of the box of self-deception. To get naked, one has to wake up, look in the mirror and smile.

But to wake up naked and also feel confident about the future you have to read the book. And you have to go all the way. There’s no such thing as half stepping. Why?

Because the future landscape of law law land is changing. You have to admit that is a fact. So is the increasing speed of the changes. Bearing in mind that general counsel (well some of them at least) set the pace, lawyers have to get naked and fast! Get rid of their old (bad) artisan habits and adapt a new attitude. That’s where she comes in.

She, Chrissie Lightfoot, reminds me of a fairytale that my mum told me when I was a kid. It was about a carpenter called Geppetto who made a wooden puppet. He named it Pinocchio. When he finished painting it he wished for it to become human. A good fairy made his wish real. Pinocchio was (almost) human. A cricket was appointed guide and counsellor of Pinocchio. Chrissie Lightfoot is that good fairy. She offers lawyers the possibility to become tomorrow’s lawyers. That is if they are willing to learn, to try, to fail and never give up! To digest the stuff that is shared with them by today’s naked fairy. To focus on the future, to dream big, to take small steps but move fast! Without any promises because there’s no such thing as a crystal ball. But you have to begin with the future in mind. And remember not to give false excuses. You know what will happen to your nose!

Concepts and ideas

Here’s a range of ideas and concepts that she addresses to rebirth that future lawyer hidden deep inside of you down there in that box of self-deception.

Offer a legal service that is in the client’s interest with the best mix (from a client’s perspective!) of human and machine and technical support. You cannot disagree right!? And remember that a general counsel is not your client! Our fairy hammers it. You have to ROAR! Not familiar with ROAR? Better dive into the Naked Lawyer Volume 1-12. Or read the recap on pages XXVII-XXXI of Tomorrow’s naked Lawyer. As she would say it: ‘I smile to save money on makeup, my bling bling is modesty and I wear confidence not Prada.’

Do not think that you will survive with old habits and an ancient business model. While thinking, you are dying already. Our fairy is right when she points out the rough, tough and bumpy passage she refers to as your future.

You, lawyers, need that combination of commercial savvy, business nous, soft skills, rainmaking skills, and technical law excellence (a conditio sine qua non for my clients) for rebirth. If you are (although still afraid) willing to plunge into your naked future, do read the book!

First, get a better understanding of the law law land you and I live in; volatile, highly competitive, price sensitive, technological, digital, dynamic, challenging and most off all… uncertain. Do not tell me that you are confident about your future! You, after taking in the fairy’s lessons, are confident about your plans. But that is all to achieve.

Next, get your horizons in place to become future proof! Focus working on operational excellence in the year one from this moment on. Add two more years and get your priorities on innovation and efficiency. Starting today! Take a close look. It is about innovation and efficiency. Not ‘or’. The third and final horizon is four to ten years from now and is about growth and creation. The latter is about the future. You, Chrissie stipulates, have to create your future. Thus do not wait for it to come!

Third to know what clients (if they know) want. It could be a movie with Mel Gibson. Just imagine him. Having the ability to overhear my thoughts. He would definitely be the next most innovative lawyer of the year awarded by the Financial Times. Chrissie reveals the ingredients. General counsel face budget restraints (they say.. prrrrrrrrr). General counsel want instant solutions. General counsel demand alternative ways of operating and delivering legal services. General counsel want a better (aka priceworthy) use of technology. General counsel have new players on the side. And those players are ready to take over your (lawyers) ships. Most of all, the speed of change is accelerating.

If you are still not convinced and reluctant to read or even buy the book, continue reading. Our good fairy shares in the second chapter the trends, tips and robot hits, and how to avoid to becoming Mork from the planet Ork (see pages 25-26 in the book for full details). Next thing you have to face is the fact that machine intelligence and robots are taking over some of the legal work in the next five years. It will require lawyers and general counsel to change their roles. Chrissie puts your options for new roles together in the third chapter. By the way my new role is not listed. I consider myself the disruptive general counsel. What I am looking for is transparency in delivering legal services. It is alright to make a living and a profit, as long as I can accept the way you make it.

Let us move on into your re-inventing yourself future. In the fourth and one of my favorite seven chapters Chrissie helps you to get prepared for your future; and shows you why it is so important to light the tunnel ahead instead of waiting for the light to appear at the end of it. It is up to you. You can be unemployed. You can be a low paid support worker to machine systems. You can be a relationships legal (my words) broker and make a nice (yet fair) living. Make the rain! And apply the six rules shared with you by the fairy on page 59 in her book. If you do not know how to apply them continue reading and end up on page 68 to know how.

There is no such thing as The Firm. Period. Chrissie makes it clear. And I confess that I do not give a [beep] about The Firm’s reputation. It is all marketing and we all know it. It is You that I want. The woman or (lesser) man that knows how to capitalize on our relationship based on professional excellence and mutual understanding of the importance of applied quality. The latter is an emotional thing. It is where the personality of the lawyer makes a difference. Never, never, never is it the price that makes that difference! Trust me!

So lawyers do not brand your firm, brand yourselves!

It’s time to wake up to the necessity to ‘get naked’ and human. Tomorrow’s Naked Lawyer along with The Naked Lawyer guide you as to how. Read it now, is my advice!

Max Hubner, Director Corporate Legal and Tax at PGGM, Utrecht, Netherlands.

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