I do like the James Joyce quote on nations divided by the same language – as profound as it is simple.

We read of the chasm between in-house counsel and their law firm counterparts – the one “has the budget” and is focused on “the business” and the other is focused on “billing” and “billables”. In the legal sector, some would have us believe a Joyce-like divide exists between these journeying companions but I would caution against this. It’s a convenient view for some. Yet are these really two nations divided? Time will tell.

I have had the pleasure to meet some of the brightest and most innovative business and legal minds on both sides of this discussion and I am genuinely optimistic that our “differences” are rather temporary and our common heritage will forge an even stronger union over time. There is simply more in common than there is different including the forces from outside both that are pressing for attention. In so doing, we must not overlook the importance of people and we must not overlook the importance of purpose.

As the industry faces cost pressures and business interjections from outside – from the C-suite, from new technology and new legal service providers, from data and automation – we may yet see a new and greater symbiosis between these communities around what unites us, not what divides us. In my various conversations with leaders, I see a shared passion for “better” – not just for cost reduction though that is a consideration for every business. I see a genuine “fire” in the eyes for advancement in how we do things, the purpose it serves and the value it creates or adds to our clients.

The future will come soon enough, as they say, and it will bring mighty change. Of that there can be no mistake. But on both sides of this discussion – and looking further afield into the growing array of participants – I see encouraging evidence of great innovative and forward-thinking individuals that will carry the torch and take the opportunity to champion “better”.

I invite you to join the dialog at High Performance Counsel