Lawyering Aesthetics for Practice Management
"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Some thoughts for my fellow legal professionals. Typeface. There's one man to thank for that word in the modern world: Steve Jobs. Although he didn't invent typeface (thanks Gutenberg!), Jobs helped us express ourselves with emotion, clarity, and variety by introducing us to beautiful fonts on a computer. Novels. Love Letters. Fancy brochures at your nearest Tesla showroom. These are just a few of the little things that have been written over the personal computer within the last few decades. Ever since then, artistic endeavors have migrated from traditional hand tools to digital tools like Photoshop and Microsoft Publisher. Why is this important?
While the rest of the world has modernized its craft and aesthetic design, we in the legal profession have stuck to the tried and true of tradition, becoming a professional practice based on reaction instead of proaction, except in the case of practice areas like technology.
When we get too bogged down in the law, we can forget about why we do what we do in the first place: our relationships, especially with our clients. Remember the Apple ad campaign "Think Different"? That's what we have to do as attorneys. But the ability to shift our focus from a law-centered practice to a client-centered practice seems just as far away as Elon Musk's idea to colonize Mars. We can learn a few things from our more formal colleagues in appellate court when they say these simple words: "May it please the Court." Our profession relies on appearances (literally and figuratively) and being well put together whether we are litigating or having a power lunch. Presentation is key.
Here is our problem: we've gone too far with presentation that it's become a lavish spending spree focused on lawyers, rather than clients. Here are some suggestions to help us as a profession get back on track and back to basics, starting with the very things we provide as services. Think about the philosophy behind farm-to-table grass-fed beef. Some things to think about for my fellow practitioners:
Choice of Paper - Is it sustainable? Is it high quality?
Typeface Minimalism - Times New Roman is so 90s. It's not vintage.
Packaging and Wrapping - Pamper and establish relationships. No sacksuits.
The Peril of Forms - LegalZoom has got nothing on us.
The Art of Handcrafted Legal Writing - Choose those artful words. Conciseness.
Brand Image - Logos. Website should not look like a geocities page.
Lean Cut Flat Fees - Transparency is key.
It's a great paradigm to boil down something to its absolute necessities and functionalities. This was something that Jobs saw in Jony Ive at Apple as they both espoused minimalism in their design philosophy. We can apply that to the legal profession to create clearer documents without the need for legalese, or clear arguments focusing on the objective nature of the Positive Law instead of waxing eloquently on Constitutional rights and "muh freedoms". After all, we set the standard of being clear and concise. Take that even further and go where no one has gone before.