When will a law firm have its Enron moment?

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I’ve just read an interesting article about how disruptive Dyson has been. More specifically, the subject of the article was whether #NewLaw (as it is being called) will be as disruptive on the legal industry as Dyson was to vacuums?

But my outtake on reading the article was this: law isn’t ready for positive disruption (innovation), as we’re yet to have a really shockingly bad, client related, negative shock-wave (failure in client service).

What am I talking about?

Simply this, to my knowledge law has yet to have its Enron/Worldcom moment in the same way Arthur Andersen did for the accountants (anyone remember ‘Big 5’?).

More specifically, in our haste to be the “extension of your in-house legal team“, or “your trusted adviser“, or any one of about a million other fad terms out there today, I believe we may be forgetting one of the biggest (if I remember rightly it made #3 on the list) recommendations in the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s “Report of Investigation” into the collapse of Worldcom to [in the future] “… cure the principal failing that gave rise to the fraud: a lack of effective checks and balances on the power of senior management …“:

A corporate culture in which the advice of lawyers is sought and respected; and

So while, as a business developer, I whole support and encourage “getting to know your client better”, in doing so I would ask that you keep at the back of your mind this question:

Are we trying to “pillow talk” our clients?

Because almost two decades after the collapse of Worldcom, my takeout is that we need to have an Enron/Worldcom moment before we have a Dyson moment in order for the profession to move forward.

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