Why Legal Teams Should be Foxes (Agile) and Not Hedgehogs (Defensive) – Richard Jolly (Northwestern University/Stokes Jolly)

Professor Richard Jolly of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a co-founder of the Stokes Jolly consultancy visits Technically Legal to discuss the importance of motivating legal organizations to change even when they are resistant to do so.

Professor Jolly also shares stories from his experiences as a chef and a psychotherapist and explains how he draws upon them in his organizational and executive consulting practice.

Professor Jolly also discusses the common psychological make-up of lawyers such as high skepticism and frequent reluctance towards change. These traits remind him of an essay by Philosopher Isaiah Berlin called the Hedgehog and the Fox, which is a reference to an idea from the Greek poet Archilochus: “a fox knows many things, but a hedgehog knows one big thing”.

Applying it to the legal profession, Professor Jolly explains that legal subject matter experts are like hedgehogs with deep expertise in one area, but in a rapidly changing world, the ability to adapt like a fox is increasingly important. Traditional law firms are full of hedgehogs, but organizations such as startups lean more toward foxes because they are better at adapting. The pandemic has accelerated the pace of change, and law firms need to be open to these changes to survive and thrive.

Along those lines, Professor Jolly points out that education and training of young lawyers is more important now because of remote work and the new generation of lawyers want to practice differently than their older colleagues. Specifically, his research has shown that most new lawyers do not plan on spending a whole career at a single law firm.

He also points out that law firms may have to adapt to the new reality that more work may have to be done by partners because associates are increasingly harder to come by.

Learn more about Professor Jolly.

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Episode Credits

Editing and Production: Grant Blackstock

Theme Music: Home Base (Instrumental Version) by TA2MI



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