May 21, 2021

Written By Robert Greene

What is an O Shaped Lawyer?

May 21, 2021

Written By Robert Greene

The O Shaped Lawyer is touted as being the lawyer of the future; a lawyer who is not only fluent in the law, but also the commercial and customer-centric demands of the profession.

O Shaped? What does that mean?

Put simply, an O Shaped Lawyer is a well-rounded lawyer. An ‘O’ lawyer. But what does that mean exactly? Well, essentially it is a lawyer who is not just versed in the law, but also the business they are advising.

The O Shaped Lawyer programme is the brainchild of a group of general counsels (GCs) who are passionate about reforming the legal industry and those who practise the law.

Founded in 2019, the programme strives to shake-up the formation (the “education stream”) and the development (the “practice stream”) of future lawyers to develop O Shaped Lawyers.

The programme is being developed in partnership with a wide range of industry stakeholders from in-house teams and private practice law firms, through to universities and consultants.

The programme’s motto is: “people first; then lawyers”. The idea is to develop lawyers who are emotionally intelligent and adopt a human-centric approach to practising the law. Gone are the days of purely black-letter-law practitioners!

O Shaped Framework

The programme is guided by the O Shaped Framework, consisting of five mindsets and behaviours.

There are:

- Optimism: O Shaped Lawyers adopt a positive outlook and develop resilience in the face of setbacks.

- Ownership: O Shaped Lawyers hold themselves accountable for legal and non-legal outcomes.

- Open-minded: O Shaped Lawyers have a growth mindset.

- Opportunistic: O Shaped Lawyers are willing to step outside their comfort zones and take risks.

- Original: O Shaped Lawyers embrace creative problem-solving.

O Shaped Attributes

Through interviews with 18 GCs, including those at easyJet, Monzo, Ocado, and DHL, the programme founders identified 12 key attributes GCs are looking for from their lawyers. These so-called “O-Shaped Attributes” are:

- Emotional Intelligence

- Trust & Influence

- Communication

- Collaboration

- Problem-Solving

- Identifying Opportunities

- Synthesis

- Simplifying Complexity

- Courage

- Resilience

- Feedback

- Continuous Learning

These attributes are grouped into three distinct skill sets: building relationships, creating value, and being adaptable.

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O Shaped Course

The O Shaped Lawyer focuses on two streams: the education stream and practice steam. Through its education stream, the O Shaped Lawyer is reshaping the future of legal education. It has partnered with The University of Law to create the first O Shaped Lawyer course for aspiring solicitors.

The one-day course, which features on The University of Law’s practical skills course (PSC), focuses on the first of the O Shaped Attributes: building relationships.

During the immersive session, delegates learn about emotional intelligence, trust and influence, communication, and collaboration.

The course is led by Jamie Pennington, a visiting professor in leadership and management, and Carrie Fletcher, an affiliate instructor at Harvard Law School Executive Education.


O Shaped Pilot

The O Shaped Lawyer’s practice stream focuses on transforming practicing solicitors into O Shaped Lawyers.

The O Shaped Pilot sees in-house and private practice teams join forces to form an “O Shaped team”.

Over the course of six months, the O Shaped team engages in a series of stages to develop O Shaped Attributes, implement O-nitiatives, and analyse the results. The insights gleaned from the O Shaped Pilot will inform the content and structure of future training and education programmes.

Participating private practice firms include Addleshaw Goddard and Pinsent Masons, while participating in-house teams include NetworkRail and Centrica.


O Shaped Lawyer