“Magic Exists” by Flickr user Gabrial Rojas Hruska under a Creative Commons license.

The Process of Magic

Stephen Poor
Jun 9, 2015 · 6 min read

The “artisan complex” imposes a view of legal practice as disconnected acts of magic.

There are significant advantages to this viewpoint: prestige, illusion of scarcity and pricing power. Our systems are built to reinforce this perspective for the industry — from law school structures to bar regulations.

Looking at the practice of law as a collection of processes — or in other words, an interconnected chain of value-creating activities — opens up new possibilities.

Most legal projects (deals, cases, whatever) are handled by teams of lawyers. Handoffs, rework, duplication of work, less-than-clear communication channels all conspire to add unnecessary complexity (confusion, delays, frustration, and yes, costs) to the project.

Looking at the practice of law through a process lens enhances the value of the artisan.

Counterintuitive? Perhaps. However, the process approach gives us the basis to assign relative value prioritization to each activity in the value stream. It reserves the highest-value activities for those with the credentials, specialized expertise, and the experiential know-how to handle them.

But first and foremost, the magic moments need to be identified, and the process-focused mindset allows us to make the positive ID.

Ultimately, it is a question of balance. This is not to say that every piece of legal work can be standardized and codified such that the human element can be removed; that is demonstrably untrue. Some legal work, however, can be codified. Some can be structured such that it can be systematized and made more efficient.


Rethink the Practice

Essays on Change in the Legal Industry from Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Stephen Poor

Written by

Chairman Emeritus, Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Rethink the Practice

Essays on Change in the Legal Industry from Seyfarth Shaw LLP