LAW SCHOOL COLUMN by Andrew Steiger
hange is as old as time. It is constant. The question is how to react to change strategically. No one person has a monopoly on the answers, so we must also draw inspiration from outside ourselves. Personally, I look to history, and chiefly to the Ancient Greeks. Nearly three millennia ago, the Pythia was widely understood to see the future. Whether or not she indeed saw the future, she leveraged her credibility as a seer to counsel kings and supplicants in the ways of change tolerance. Three maxims were inscribed on her temple at Delphi: Know thyself, nothing in excess and choose well (and often). First: know thyself. What are the pillars of your identity, and what steps have you taken to preserve them? Rapid change comes like a tidal wave, washing away the familiar. Airplane flight attendants remind us to always put on our own oxygen mask first. Similarly, we must adopt practices of self-preservation, or risk losing ourselves in the churn. Second: nothing in excess. Have you hedged your bet on your specialization? The risk of overspecialization can be mitigated through diversification. Try branching into another practice area, and/or hiring wisely and diversely to augment your own skillset. Expertise has made your practice strong, but at the cost of the wide-open worldview of a beginner. Consider mentoring a law student in order to, through empathy, reacquaint yourself with a beginner’s mind.
“By staying open to new ideas, and by taking pointers from the past, we can remain ready for change. As the pace of change increases, this has never been a more vital skill.” Third: choose well and often. Have you given yourself permission to reinvent? All professional goals and relationships exist in a state of flux, evolving over time. We must choose them again in order to renew them. Don’t take them for granted, or you may miss an opportunity to grow and evolve yourself. And above all, remember why you chose to practice law, and choose it again to renew your drive to strive for more. By staying open to new ideas and by taking pointers from the past, we can remain ready for change. As the pace of change increases, this has never been a more vital skill. Macroeconomic factors are accelerating shifts in the way we do business, and the tools of the legal trade are evolving before our eyes. As legal professionals, it is essential to recognize the monumental transformation taking place in our competitive landscape. It behooves you to respond. So, what steps will you take to ensure your practice thrives through change?
Andrew Steiger (AndrewRSteiger@gmail.com) is a full-time student ('22) at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.
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