When I was employed full-time in communications at the Fortune 100, if the team had to consult with the inhouse lawyers we trudged to their offices (that fact that we went to them was a sign of their power). It was as if we were on our way to the gallows.
See, we anticipated the struggle we would have framing the consultation on the business problem we had to solve. The odds are that they would begin and end in the points-of-law box. Also, unlike so many other corporate players, they were not likely to be friendly.
In those days, staff functions weren't profit centers so there was no fee-for-service involved. And, the subject of the consultation was never a career-ender. So, our extreme discomfort was rooted in the difficulty of lawyerly transactions per se.
This typically persists in all settings in which lawyers provide counsel - or formal education as in law schools. They might not realize it but the key to their survival as well-paid trusted advisors and educators is to become The Unlawyer.
That consists of listening to what the problem is. Not what they have been socialized in law to approach it as. The dynamics could involve an attempt by a competitor to hurt the brand. The most effective and efficient solution might be bring to the table a top public relations/lobbying agency. Not even threaten legal action or countersue.
The old joke here is that, sure the client won the case and went bankruptcy or wound up with a badly damaged brand. Could IBM have avoided much of the legal problems and be preventing new ones if it focused more on the total context rather than primarily the points of law per se? Maybe.
The other piece of The Unlawyer is the persona. Throughout much of the rest of business, the mandate is for the professionals to be accessible. There should be no drawbridge pulled down and a moat stocked with alligators. From the customer service representative for the wildly successful Home Depot ecommerce business to the chief executive officer of a social networking firm, we expect an Everyman and Everywoman - with special expertise, of course. That's just the way it is now. Being aloof is no longer a platform for power branding.
Lawyers, including law professors, who recapture their basic humanity will be ones with lucrative compensation as well as jobs in 2020. The disruption has just begun in how legal services and legal training are positioned, packaged, delivered and measured. Actually, there has been a delay in the intensity of change, given how staid a business law and legal teaching are.
The Unlawyer at least will have an edge right now. Eventually, being The Unlawyer could be the price of entry.