As I am often preaching on this podcast, lawyers of the future and successful lawyers of today will need to be more business-minded. A question that often comes up is what does that mean in practice? What are the key skills that modern lawyers should be equipped with?
Today’s guest, Peter Connor, has the answer.
Peter has developed the ‘T-shaped lawyer’ framework, all about the skills and competencies that a modern legal professional needs to assert themselves, integrate into the business they work in and become part of the decision-making from the early stages. The framework was inspired by the well known ‘T-shaped professional’ concept, explained in the episode and at the end of these show notes.
Peter’s business, Alternatively Legal, works with firms and in-house teams to implement a specially-designed program for developing skills beyond their core areas of expertise. It’s about transforming and learning new ways of thinking and doing, which are rapidly becoming imperatives in a world where working collaboratively with non-legal professionals is more and more important. Peter says:
“Think of yourself as not just a lawyer. You can be, and you should be, more than that. The ’T-shaped’ concept gives you a nice idea of what that might mean.”
In this episode, Peter provides an in-depth rundown of how his program works, how it can be tailored to different roles (from juniors to partners) and the results that people can expect from taking the course.
Peter explains that a true T-shaped professional must be across all the core competencies, they can’t try to opt-out of one aspect of the program:
“The answer is no, because everyone needs to be at least level one or two in everything. As a T-shaped lawyer, you have to be able to identify opportunities, like design thinking opportunities, so even if you’re not the person who’s going to be executing it, you’ll be able to have an intelligent conversation with an expert.”
What is Peter doing differently? He’s built a program that focuses companies on the humans who work for them, rather than the digital mediators and facilitators that tend to dominate the broader conversation about business development. More than that, he’s broken down and defined all aspects of what a person could need to succeed as a business-minded lawyer. Maybe that’s why he calls himself a ‘Legal Architect’.
If you’re not already familiar with the ‘T-shaped professional’ concept, the vertical line of the T represents your core area of expertise (legal expertise, in this context) while the horizontal line represents everything else – all the skillsets, mindsets and knowledge that may not pertain directly to the main thrust of your job, but that enable you as an individual within a company to do some pretty cool things.
Listen to the episode to learn more about how Peter has applied this concept to the legal profession.
About our guest
Peter Connor is the Founder and CEO of AlternativelyLegal. Peter has worked all over the world helping in-house lawyers reinvent themselves and reimagine their way of working. He has developed the unique T-shaped in-house lawyer framework and T-shaped legal team framework.
Find out more at www.alternativelylegal.com
Peter Connor quotes
- “Think of yourself as not just a lawyer. You can be, and you should be, more than that. The ’T-shaped’ concept gives you a nice idea of what that might mean.”
- “The more horizontal stuff you do, the better you’ll be at the vertical stuff.”
- “Have we overlooked human transformation in our obsession with digital transformation?”
- “As a T-shaped lawyer, you have to be able to identify opportunities, like design thinking opportunities, so even if you’re not the person who’s going to be executing it, you’ll be able to have an intelligent conversation with an expert.”
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Thank you to Nexus Law Group
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