Are you hedgehog or a fox?
The question stems from an essay by Philosopher Isaiah Berlin called the “Hedgehog and the Fox” which is a reference to a Greek saying that “a fox knows many things, but a hedgehog knows one big thing”.
In the latest episode of the Technically Legal Podcast, Professor Richard Jolly of Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management and Stokes & Jolly explains that many in the legal industry are likely hedgehogs. They are subject matter experts 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.
He explains that the pandemic accelerated change in the legal industry, and legal teams need to be open to change 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.