Does Conscious Capitalism need Conscious Lawyers?

Posted on: October 7, 2014

“Screw business as usual” – Richard Branson.

The writing is on the wall for conventional capitalism – companies which focus purely on profit and shareholder return withoutregard for staff, society and the environment will see their brands deteriorate and find it increasingly harder to recruit talent.

Smart businesses are migrating to Conscious Capitalism, and will need Conscious Lawyers to provide their legal services.

The term “Conscious Capitalism” was coined by John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods Market, to describe a new evolution of capitalism that takes the best of entrepreneurialism and combines it with being a source for social and environmental good.  Its proponents include Unilever, which in 2010 took the radical step of deciding to becoming carbon neutral whilst doubling profits at the same time.

Conscious Capitalism is based on four principles:

  • Having a higher purpose
  • Creating value for all stakeholders, not just shareholders
  • Developing conscious leaders who prioritise purpose and value creation
  • Having a conscious culture which reflects the values of the business

Has commercial law caught up with this?   Is it time for a new breed of Conscious Lawyers who can serve Conscious Capitalism?  One of the reasons I left private practice to become a leadership coach and mediator was that I felt like a hired gun to my clients’ objectives, with no voice to challenge their values or behaviour even when I profoundly disagreed with them.  Thankfully Millenials are increasingly resistant to this. They hate the idea of having to check their values at the door when they come to work and they actively seek out employers who share their point of view.   As one law firm recruiting partner said to me recently “We used to interview them – now they interview us to check we are a match for their values”.

Women have a particular opportunity here to take a lead in creating Conscious Law practices as we naturally lean towards collaborative styles of working – a key element of Conscious Capitalism.  It’s also a great opportunity for visionary law firms to show leadership by committing to a higher purpose beyond the mere pursuit of profit. To put it bluntly, if you are just serving “crony capitalism” (the skewed playing field that favours the few) then you are part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

What would Conscious Law look like?  Marque Lawyers in Australia are possibly the first Conscious Law firm.  Listen to what founder Michael Bradley has to say:

Michael Bradley (Marque Lawyers) at Conscious Capitalism Australia ‘Walking the Talk’ Event from Conscious Capitalism Australia on Vimeo.

You can either be ahead of the curve or behind it.  The choice is up to you.

If you would like help identifying your purpose so you can create a business where talented people love to work then please get in touch.