specialisation and the compartmentalisation (or fragmentation) of knowledge is both one of the great virtues and one of the greatest obstacles of our times (to the practice of law, but not only, of course). It is a virtue because the new generations have a fantastic level of technical preparation (in our case, legal). It is also, however, a pitfall because there is an excessive "narrowing down" of knowledge.
Today's society is a markedly technocratic society and places great value on the specialisation of knowledge. Specialization by area of knowledge. Specialisation within that area of knowledge. And specialization within this specialization. A thicket of specializations, to use an expression dear to Ricardo Araújo Pereira. At city, today, a good lawyer specializes in, for example, corporate, but specifically in M&A, and even more specifically, in M&A of companies in the TMT sector. He dominates completely, we hope, his little niche of knowledge.
This specialisation has very useful aspects and it is clear that it is not possible to know everything about everything. But it is essential to know something about a lot of things. Neither knowledge nor its use in the exercise of the profession is watertight. Knowing a little about economics, logic, but also philosophy, art, etc. helps a lot in the practice of law. It is not as tangible as knowing the most recent case law of the Supreme Court in our (sub)area of specialisation, but it is just as important or even more important (I leave out the so-called soft skills for the sake of brevity, but they are obviously equally indispensable to the exercise of the legal profession or of practically any other profession).
Anyone who only knows about law doesn't even know about law. I have no doubt that an "ideal" individual (or machine?) who knows everything about M&A of TMT companies but nothing about any other branch of knowledge will make a bad lawyer.
This awareness is the reason for Morais Leitão's great concern in providing lawyers with a wide range of knowledge. Previously, even in the recruitment phase, the firm favours those who show interest in knowing something about a lot of things - favours those who demonstrate a very healthy curiosity about things.
Hence the importance of management in the legal profession, one of the cornerstones of Morais Leitão's training programme, which we have been developing in annual programmes.
A lawyer is not a machine for "spitting out" legal solutions to concrete problems. In fact, if this were the case, the sustainability of the profession would be seriously threatened. As a starting point, it is obviously fundamental to have very solid technical legal knowledge. But that is not enough: in a law firm, most of the work involved in a case is not legal work. It is internal and external management work. It is also knowing how to act in the value chain that goes from the proposal of services to invoicing and collecting the services provided. And for this it is essential to have management notions: knowing how to deal with and manage teams, manage projects, measure profitability and other management indicators, deal with clients, have adequate negotiation strategies, etc., etc.
With Nova SBE, we have built a customised training programme, tailored to the legal profession and the particular characteristics of the sector. At least, we no longer miss this keystone.
This article was developed by the lawyer and Director of Operations, HR & Training, Martim Krupenski, in the context of the customised programme "Lawyer Project Manager" co-created by Nova SBE and Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva & Associados - Sociedade de Advogados, SP, RL.