If Jordan Furlong’s name sounds familiar, you might have seen it on the front cover of my book under his impressive review. Or, you might be aware of him through the speeches about the future of law that he delivers around the world, his book ‘Law is a Buyer’s Market’, his articles on his website Law21 or his term, ‘Lawyer formation’.
If you’re looking for the video recording of this interview, you can find it here.
‘Lawyer formation’ is the term Jordan’s uses to describe the process of becoming a lawyer – from the very first moment you think ‘I want to be a lawyer’ to the moment that you actually feel ready to practise. One of his points is that we credential lawyers too early and thus unknowingly give birth to a kind of imposter syndrome – all too familiar, anyone?
We talk a lot about that in the second half of the episode. But first, Jordan’s thoughts on Covid-19 and the well-known mantra ‘faster, better, cheaper’.
Very recently, Jordan saw a tweet from Doug Downey, the Attorney General of Ontario, discussing all the changes that have been brought about by Covid-19; a new court system, online appearances and the dying need for paper copies. The headline of the tweet, though, was that Doug used the word ‘permanent’. Jordan says:
“When the attorney general says it’s a permanent change… It’s a permanent change!”
That gives me hope. But the slow, patient work still has to be done and to do that, we’re going to need some better mantras. ‘Faster, better cheaper’, Jordan says, is only really important to a small group of clients, mostly in corporate environments, who are under constant pressure to cut costs. Jordan’s alternative is a question that works for all clients and needs:
“Are we doing the job as well as it can reasonably be done in all dimensions?”
Much better. We move on to ‘lawyer formation’ and chat about what’s missing from the current curriculum, Jordan’s concept of which extends far beyond degrees and qualifications into the world of apprenticeships, holistic educations and the actual ‘junior lawyer experience’.
How can we do more to help newbies transition from theory to practice? How can law firms mentor and supervise better? Should we really be expecting new associates to bill 1000-1500 hours of work in their first year? If these questions are or ever have been circling your head, please listen to what Jordan has to say.
His parting advice is solid:
“Before you start reading resources and materials, before you talk to innovators and leaders, before you investigate how law can be done differently, start in your head and your heart. What is your purpose? Why are you here? Because at the end of the day, the market is asking that question every day. The market is headwinds, the market wants you to fail, and to make sure that doesn’t happen you have to be anchored and the place you want to be anchored in is ‘Why am I here?’”
About our guest
Jordan Furlong of Ottawa, Canada, is a legal market analyst who delivers strategic counsel to law firms and legal organisations regarding the massive changes now underway in the legal sector. He has given dozens of presentations about the future of law throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia over the past decade. He is the author of Law Is A Buyer’s Market: Building a Client-First Law Firm and writes regularly about the rapidly changing legal world at his website, law21.ca.
Jordan advises lawyers and legal organisations how to navigate the uncharted waters of the new legal marketplace, by explaining the causes of current trends and forecasting their likely evolution and impact. More recently, he has begun to advise legal regulators and law schools on reinventing the lawyer formation process.
Jordan Furlong quotes
- “Before you start reading resources and materials, before you talk to innovators and leaders, before you investigate how law can be done differently, start in your head and your heart. What is your purpose? Why are you here? Because at the end of the day, the market is asking that question every day. The market is headwinds, the market wants you to fail, and to make sure that doesn’t happen you have to be anchored and the place you want to be anchored in is ‘Why am I here?’”
- “Now is the time to do it. Five years ago was also ‘the time’, but I’ll take it now!”
- “It’s more than law school. It’s about the whole process and saying, “How can we do that as well as we feasibly can?” No more of the redundancies, let’s rationalise it, make it smooth and unified and focused on the individual – human-centred lawyer formation.”
Find Jordan online
- Law21 website
- Follow Jordan on Twitter
- Read Jordan’s article about the perception of junior lawyers and how we could reinvent the job itself
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Thank you to Nexus Law Group
This episode is brought to you by Nexus Law Group. For those seeking positive career change, Nexus Law Group offers senior lawyers the freedom of sole practice with all the support and infrastructure you need so you can focus on what you do best – practising law. Contact Nexus to find out how you can take the next step towards a more rewarding legal career. Find out more on the Join Us page at nexuslawyers.com.au.
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