The CEO was clearly stressed when he hurried a few minutes late into the lunch restaurant. He had taken his morning run at six that morning, followed by a number of meetings, but now he actually had a moment to sit down with his friend.
Are we lawyers becoming obsolete in this new quick, exciting and constantly changing world?
Of course not. I believe that our role is more important than ever.
When everyone else runs ever faster, someone needs to slow down and reflect upon whether we’re all running in the right direction. Someone must look around the bend to see whether there are threats to our business and how we can protect us against them. Someone needs to think ahead. That someone is often the trusted legal advisor to the CEO.
It doesn’t mean that we lawyers shouldn’t provide much better and more dynamic support to the business. On the contrary, we must be more agile and provide broader and more insightful advice in a form that is easier and quicker for the busy business people to adopt. We must think further and broader, communicate better and understand the business better. We must not be afraid of rendering clear and very specific advice.
I paid the tab and ran back to the office. A client meeting about a new project was about to begin and I couldn’t keep them waiting. My team had been working hard to identify alternative structures and they were ready with a presentation with our concrete recommendations taking into account the relevant tax, company, employment, data protection and competition law aspects. Watching them present our views to the client and discussing both short- and long-term alternatives, I felt very proud of how our team thinks ahead.
An hour after the meeting I got an enthusiastic phone call. The client loved it.