Jun 09, 2023

Written By Annika De Lathauwer

The O Shaped Lawyer: embracing interdisciplinary approaches in legal practice

Jun 09, 2023

Written By Annika De Lathauwer

As the world around us changes and the markets evolve, it is important for the legal sector to adapt. This ensures they can continue to provide advice and support to those who need it. Ways to do so include learning to embrace interdisciplinary approaches in legal practice, allowing non-legal experts to provide guidance and ensuring that lawyers receive broad training in a range of areas.

What is an O Shaped lawyer?

An O Shaped Lawyer is someone who is knowledgeable not just about the law, as well as the area in which they are advising. O Shaped is a programme set up in 2019, to develop future lawyers into O Shaped Lawyers. It encourages more emotionally intelligent and empathetic ways of approaching the law, to make the legal profession better for all.

The five criteria that represent the mindset of an O Shaped Lawyer are: ownership, optimism, openness, opportunistic (in a positive way), and originality.

Why is the O Shaped lawyer needed?

An increase in legal tech and low-cost alternatives to private practice law firms means that layers and law firms will have to adapt to be able to dominate this changing field. As the world evolves and changes, advice given by lawyers and consultants becomes more complex. Therefore, it is important that these experts have a broad, as well as a deep understanding on a range of issues, unlike historically where focus has been far narrower.

With an increased ease to access information now compared to in the past, for example through Google, many clients expect that the lawyer(s) advising them should be able to access this information and advise them based on this.

Additionally, the Big 4 accountancy firms have recently restarted taking over a large portion of the legal market share, which is being diverted away from private practice firms. They employ thousands of lawyers across the world each, sometimes more than international law firms themselves do. These particular accountancy firms are unique from traditional law firms, in that they offer a variety of services. Therefore, to stay on top of this new market threat, lawyers in law firms must learn to be able to offer a similar level of service to existing or new clients.

Interdisciplinary approaches in legal practice

The simplest, most effective way of utilising interdisciplinary approaches in legal practice is to invite a non-lawyer expert in to discuss areas that they are particularly knowledgeable. It is possible to then take this a step further and actively involve them by allowing them to work alongside the lawyers in specific cases and circumstances and help with dispute and rights resolution. By fully integrating the expert in this process, it eliminates the risk of lawyers misinterpreting or manipulating information to suit their needs.

To make the most of integrating disciplinary approaches in legal practice, it is important that all parties involved are treated with equal respect. Otherwise the process of working together to create solutions to problems will not run smoothly, avoidable mistakes will be made, and it will not foster good relationships, which may be beneficial in the future. For this to be successful, it is important that everyone involved must also be working towards the same goal.

Many agree that this increased acceptance of an interdisciplinary approach in legal practice is inevitable in the future. It will be interesting to see how this will change the law and legal services in the future, but for now we can only speculate.



O Shaped Lawyer