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Law and Innovation, Jeff Robinson, ContrariansmindThis is a translated guest blog post written by Pablo Vinageras, Senior Manager – J&A Garrigues, S.L.P.e  Pablo focuses his practice on cross-border mergers and acquisitions, management buyouts, joint ventures, start-up investments and restructuring transactions. Mr. Vinageras commonly advises global and Spanish companies, private equity firms and financial institutions on their inbound and outbound investments. He has an extensive experience in advising global and Spanish companies investing in Latin America and China. Mr. Vinageras has also worked in Mexico and New York.

The original version of this blog in Spanish can be found here: http://blogs.morethanlaw.es/la-teoria-de-la-buganvilla

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The Bougainvillea Theory

What is a Bougainvillea?

According to the Spanish Royal Academy Dictionary a Bougainvillea is a South American climbing bush in the Nyctaginaceae family, with oval, elliptic leaves, bracts of various colors and small flowers. Their main quality is their bracts as their flowers are very small and usually go unnoticed.

The trend?

The current trend is to see lawyers are sedentary sales people or people with no business insight. At university we suffered the onslaught of a whirlwind of rules, procedures, decisions, interpretations, doctrines, articles and guarantees but in most cases we never developed business savvy or an ability for business matters which today is a must in our legal practice.  Honed technical professional skills are no longer enough to have a brilliant career. We are in an era of transparency and the professional world has been transformed as a result of a demanding, difficult, environment in which every last drop is squeezed out of services. This environment calls for a different, carefully considered and more cohesive service. Legal advice has become a box of treats (“piñata”), the one that has the most to offer will win the day. To be able to offer more than the rest we obviously need to be able to set ourselves apart and provide more robust business awareness.

The transparency society

A good guideline is that every step we take will be judged by the environment, social media has transformed our profession into a place of bursting transparency. History is forged with facts and we lawyers have to craft our own history, it is no longer enough for a lawyer to have good judgment or knowledge of the law, society is demanding disciplined but exotic professionals. In my humble opinion, anything different sells and price will not be the only parameter or element that sets you apart from the rest. We are required to work hard to give added value to exceed and stand out from the rest. It is no longer enough to be a good professional; you have to innovate or be ostracized, be enterprising or be forever doomed to insipidity and push yourselves or you will collapse into a vast arid professional desert. Without distinction there will be no horizon. The client only wants to see boldness, the price for being half-hearted will be gradual exile in the best-case scenario.

If we are carried along by the common denominator and fail to take a business step to the front, we will end up permanently foundering in a sea with no life, where there will be no room for innovation and the mundane will be the prevailing factor. If I may say so again, clients want something out of the ordinary, they are constantly demanding added value, always eagerly on the look-out for a breath of fresh air, and for the advisor to work magic and above all diminish their problems.

What does the future look like (today)?

The future is different, if we are not different we cannot stand out and society will pull us under (if there is too much of anything in this environment it is legal services, professional inertia and failings on the business side). Today is tomorrow, work is light and light is development. What use is a horizon without a clear landscape. Every one of us can stand out in the jungle. Our mission is to transform the jungle into woodland, the desert, into a fertile plain. We live in a changing world, in which the winds of change blow.  We have to become the brightest color in the rainbow. Without any business light there will be no color at all.

The Bougainvillea is the alternative

The Bougainvillea is different and brings color to its environment. Above all it is a hybrid that transforms the landscape, we must mutate into a legal/business hybrid that can survive in harsh climates and shine out in grey seasons. There are many and very diverse flowers, but none like the Bougainvillea, its colorfulness is unique and its bracts are what makes it special and its chief characteristic. The Bougainvillea is simple but intense, mischievous but firm, austere but with integrity, basic but a climber, simple but resilient, frank but spontaneous and a hybrid but captivating. That is it, nothing more, the Bougainvillea alternative. Simply put, you have to stand out from the rest and grab the bull by the horns. Are you ready?

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Brad Feld posted a blog on October 3 entitled : Recreating Law School found here: http://www.feld.com/wp/archives/2013/10/recreating-law-school.html – An interesting take and worth the read.

Law and lawyering,  no different than any industry needs to innovate. Change is inevitable and good.

@contrariansmind