Published for Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute on May 19, 2015
It is time to stop using the term “non-lawyer” to refer to everyone who works in legal service who has not passed the bar exam. This may seem like a minor issue to some, but it is not. In fact, it reflects an outlook that impedes the ability of our profession to make the changes we need to make.
I first realized this problem more than 20 years ago when Norm Rubenstein joined Orrick as our Chief Marketing Officer. It was a big moment for the firm. We were embracing bold new ideas in the way we presented the firm to the market; Norm was joining us, along with a celebrated “dream team” he had recruited from other firms, to lead the effort. At the first partner meeting at which Norm unveiled our marketing mission he took me aside to share his disappointment that we referred to his team as “non-lawyers.” No one, he observed, wants to be defined in the negative. We had assembled some of the best people in their field only to define them in that way.
It was a true aha moment for me. One that has been with me ever since and affects my sense of how we should think about the talented people who work in our firms.Read More