When I am working with law firms that seem to be falling behind the times, and I want to remind those firms of the disruptive effect of new technologies on the legal landscape, I like to introduce the metaphor of the saddle maker.
Prior to the mid-1800s, the leatherworkers who built saddles were among the most highly valued craftspeople around: they constructed a product that almost every home and business needed, and some of them were true artists who carved leather designs of lasting beauty, as well as creating comfortable and useful items that people could put to good use every day.
Not just anyone could make a saddle: you needed some basic training and knowledge before you could even figure out how to turn a piece of hide into something that could be used for extended periods of time without causing discomfort to horse or human. But there were also those who went far beyond the basics and became true artists, and some of the saddles they created are now collectors’ items.
Obviously a legal matter is not the same as a saddle, and law firms are not blacksmith shops. However, the analogy should be clear. Sometimes firm leaders need to look up from the work the firm is producing – despite its elegance and beauty and the obvious depth of knowledge and experience that its creators have acquired – to make sure that the clients they want to attract and keep are still riding horses.
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