We spent decades training lawyers to be knowledge specialists. Now AI is poised to take on that role. But upgrading to "wise counsel" won't be as easy as it sounds.
Great article Jordan - as usual! I've been teaching law students for five years now focused on introducing them to relationship-building/people skills and how to be that unique lawyer who listens, seeks to understand their clients and offers clear, practical and actionable advice aligned to the client's vision of success. Visionary law schools are adding these types of courses to their curriculum (like University of Calgary and Dean Holloway's visionary approach). There is definitely a huge opportunity for more law firms to adopt your suggested approach for early stage associate learning and development.
I like this blog a lot Jordan. It also speaks to a very interesting debate about whether professionalism has become technocratic rather than civic (for want of a better word). I think the emphasis on character is a bit risky and narrow though. Wisdom is partly an institutional thing (how the lawyers role is defined and relates to the larger whole) and about how the job is done (the habits and practices, and what one advises on, not just whether one has wisdom or character- although they may sometimes be correlates of better practices). Ben White did a nice interview with Jordan Breslow on this (I blogged on it recently on lawyerwatch if you want the link) which implicitly captures some of this in a very interesting story.
Many years ago while at Windsor Law, I had a very wise contracts professor by the name of John Whiteside. He was the only professor I had who looked at problems through the eyes of the client. He was the very definition of "wise counsel". But becoming a trusted advisor is a skill...and you are correct...in general we are not taught to be wise counsel...we have been overwhelmed by the abacus approach...how many billable hours can we squeeze out of a day. I don't know how you get back to teaching "wisdom", because we have an entire generation of lawyers and professors who thought that soft skill was unnecessary to one's practice. I'm not sure we can reclaim it.