I was interviewed by Ari Kaplan on the themes covered in my book. Read the write-up below.
Ari Kaplan spoke with Peter Rouse, an intellectual property lawyer and serial entrepreneur, who is the founder of the Rouse firm, an international intellectual property consulting firm. Peter is also the author of Every Relationship Matters, Using the Power of Relationships to Transform Your Business, Your Firm, and Yourself, the second edition of which the ABA released last summer.
Ari Kaplan: Tell us about your background and the genesis of your book: Every Relationship Matters.
Peter Rouse: I have spent my entire career in and around the law. I worked for many years in London and internationally, including with Baker & McKenzie in Asia. I ended up running my own firm for 10 years. I learned a great deal and thought that I really should get down some of the things that really matter to me. So, I thought perhaps I ought to write some of that down. I set about doing something around 2005 and it took me about three months. Eventually, I persuaded the ABA to publish it and they asked me a couple of years ago to write a second edition. I changed a good deal of the original material to bring it generally up to date with my own feelings and views. It is also available outside of North America under the title: Fragile: Mastering the Relationships that Can Make or Break a Career and a Firm.
Ari Kaplan: What updates were necessary for the second edition?
Peter Rouse: The iPhone didn’t actually exist and reach the market at the time that I was writing the first edition. Technology is impacting legal services and other professional businesses in how they function and their headcount requirements. What we are trying to do is absorb this technology into our working and private lives, both of which are becoming ever more intermingled and inseparable. It is fascinating and yet driving us into something of a corner. I continue to emphasize the importance of self management. We’ve got to recognize that with all of the additional pressure and accelerated expectations of our clients and colleagues for substantive answers, if we are not managing our internal life well, then we just can’t expect to perform. I am addressing that head on in the second edition and I hope offering some sensible advice about how you might go about making sure that you are fit for your purpose and don’t go bonkers in the process, finding yourself overwhelmed and ending up as a statistic.
Ari Kaplan: Given the impact of technology, where should professionals focus their efforts and develop skills to remain relevant in this market?
Peter Rouse: Focus on personal skills and your ability to collaborate. I was reading that instead of the struggle for survival, which I think a lot of lawyers could associate with, someone called it the struggle to get on with other people, to cooperate, to work together, and to leverage technology including artificial intelligence for the best possible outcomes for their organizations and their clients. What we’ve got to concentrate on if we are going to survive and thrive is what sets us apart from AI, like our interpersonal skills.
Ari Kaplan: Is it possible to create an instruction manual for a successful professional career?
Peter Rouse: Unfortunately, no. The whole process of building a career is about developing an understanding of yourself and of others. Being brilliant at what you do requires an openness to change, but since you don’t know what that change is going to be, learning to adapt, modify your behavior, and grow your skills and resources during your career is the way to do it. A professional career is a bit like a landscape. We can all look at a landscape view and see it differently, but there will be some common features and we can describe those features for the benefit of others just as an artist might paint it. While there isn’t an instruction manual, I did include some simple points at the back end of my book. One of my favorites is do what you say you’re going to do. Trust is built on expectations and managing your client’s expectations is what service is all about. You can’t just think that you can be a great lawyer and deliver your work in any way you’d like. You have to ensure that the clients have a great experience because there is an abundance of choice. You need to understand their needs and then truly address them, not just say that you will address them and give them your cookie-cutter solution. Get in there and get human with them. Talk to them, listen to them, and address their humanity without compromising your independence or your objectivity.
This article was first published on the Above the Law website.