Jun 09, 2023

Written By Zara Arif

Why the O-Shaped lawyer is the key to success in modern legal practice

Jun 09, 2023

Written By Zara Arif

The world of law is constantly changing, and we can see new innovations every day that hope to refine the services which legal professionals provide to their clients. The novel concept of the O-Shaped Lawyer is something that seeks to innovate and renew the way in which lawyers themselves operate. The idea of the ‘O-Shaped Lawyer’ is increasingly a buzzword in the legal industry, but what does it actually mean and how is it different from other types of lawyers?

What is an O-Shaped Lawyer?

The clue to understanding what an O-Shaped Lawyer is, is in the name. Essentially, it is a concept which seeks to make lawyers more well-rounded business professionals, as opposed to solely black-letter law practitioners.

This means that an O-shaped Lawyer is able to support their clients on a wider range of matters outside of purely legal problems or questions. O-shaped, commercially aware lawyers help to refine and hone the advice which clients require on specific services and products in markets, and how these are impacted by changes from by pandemics and technological innovations. O-shaped lawyers can also advise on integration of in-depth commercial and legal knowledge.

Who created the concept?

The O-shaped lawyer programme was formed by Dan Kayne, who wanted to reform the legal industry and the ways in which legal professionals work. Working as legal counsel, he wanted to ensure that legal professionals were more well-rounded and personable, and could collaborate effectively with workers in other sectors.

What attributes does an O-shaped Lawyer have?

An O-Shaped Lawyer is guided by a specific framework that outlines the necessary attitudes, behaviours, and mindset. The framework can be defined by the following pillars: Optimism, Ownership, Open-Minded, Opportunistic, Original.

To break these down even further, an O-shaped Lawyer must be positive and resilient when faced with problems and take responsibility for the consequences of both legal and non-legal decisions. To this effect, this type of lawyer prioritises using every opportunity, whether positive or negative, to learn, grow and develop. They must be willing to go outside their comfort zones and be open to taking risks whilst thinking laterally in order to solve problems with creative solutions.

The programme also highlights the following qualities: emotional intelligence, collaboration, courage, and communication. Therefore, being a well-rounded person is the foundation of an O-shaped Lawyer. These are soft skills that can be developed outside of legal practice but are of infinite use within the profession.

Why is an O-shaped Lawyer successful?

The legal profession is becoming increasingly diverse and varied. More and more firms are introducing tech and innovation hubs or even project management and consultancy teams in order to keep up with the changing needs of clients, and serve as a one-stop hub for in-depth and broad advice.

For this reason, the lawyer of the future needs to have a broader skill set than what might have been traditionally required.

It is here that an O-shaped lawyer will excel. Their growth mindset and adaptability will allow them to best serve a client's changing needs. This adds more value to the service which they provide, and is more appealing to clients, as they have lawyers who can support them through every aspect.


What other types of lawyers are there?

Another type of lawyer which has recently emerged is the T-shaped lawyer.

As the name might suggest, this is someone who has a lot of expertise in their specialist field but is able to integrate this with skills from other fields, thus forming a T shape. This is another type of lawyer, which like the O-shaped Lawyer, is equipped for the future of legal practice.


There is no doubt that the legal industry has seen a lot of innovation and change in recent times and there are no signs of this trend slowing down. The creation of these ‘shaped’ lawyers is proof that legal practice is something that demands its professionals to be constantly willing to adapt and change their training, in order to provide the best possible service and advice to clients.


O Shaped Lawyer