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Why lawyers need to start acting more like teachers

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By Shaun Restorick-Barton, Associate

 

My original journey into university began with the pursuit of a secondary education teaching degree. I suppose I was caught up in the romantic concept of teaching history and literature in the manner of Dead Poets Society.

 

Sadly, it did not take me long to come to the realisation that it was highly unlikely that students would be jumping on their desks shouting “captain, my captain” following a rousing reading of Lee, Yates or Bukowski. For this and a couple of other reasons, I chose to change my degree to law.

Having now been in the legal industry for a few years, I have come to realise that historically our industry has been a closed system of knowledge held, as opposed to knowledge shared. In the past, legal content and presentations of legal information by lawyers has been created for the legal industry. We have always prepared content for our colleagues and peers rather than for our clients.

This status quo, however, is starting to change. Legal services providers are beginning to create content for existing and potential clients to arm them with basic legal knowledge. Aside from the obvious marketing potential of such change, I truly believe that many practitioners aim to empower citizens in a manner that has previously only been available by engaging lawyers to provide paid advice or act on their behalf.

I recently caught up with a fellow lawyer and while we were discussing this topic he mentioned the book The Trusted Advisor by David H. Maister. Having not yet read the book, I took to the shortest road (Google) to understand why he had recommended it. Whilst searching for more information about this title I came across the following quote, which I feel illustrates this mindset so simply:

 

“It is not enough for a professional to be right: An advisor’s job is to be helpful.”

 

My view is that the driving force behind this dynamic change has been the start-up community and in part, the shared economy. By constantly extolling the virtues of the free exchange of advice, mentorship and guidance whilst carrying the belief within the ecosystem that, ‘together we succeed, and individually, we fail’, this community is thriving and teaching other industries the value of giving without the immediate intention of asking for something in return.

Those working within traditional service provider businesses who were paying attention to this space have been working hard to evolve and better support this industry. This small number of accounting practices, research and development consultants and law firms (like ours) noticed this change in mindset and amended their service offering accordingly, and as a result have enjoyed the unbelievable generosity and openness of this community and will continue to provide guidance, mentorship and education (without billing one unit of time for the privilege) to members of this ecosystem.

I urge traditional service providers to look at new ways they can teach business operators and individuals about how to work better and smarter in business for the sole purpose of building a stronger foundation upon which Australian business can thrive.

 

It is not that hard to be helpful.

 

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At Law Squared, we partner with passionate entrepreneurs and businesses who need our technical help and expertise. We’d love to have a chat with you, so feel free to drop us an email hello@lawsquared.co


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Shaun Restorick-Barton

Shaun heads up our Brisbane office, and knowledgeably assists a variety of clients at all stages of growth.

srestorick@lawsquared.co

+61 405 996 422

 

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