Distinguished legal scholar, Professor David B. Wilkins, pays his first visit to IE Law School’s recently established LawAhead Center on the Legal Profession.
“The future of legal work will be shaped by the interplay between the forces of continuity and change,” Professor Wilkins told an audience of law firm executives during a talk held at IE Tower. The faculty director of the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession was the very first guest of IE Law School’s newly launched LawAhead Center.
The LawAhead Center on the Legal Profession is a pioneering project that aims to be a beacon of reflection on the challenges and opportunities for the legal sector in Spain and around the world. It is the result of a partnership with an elite group of Spanish law firms: CMS Albiñana & Suárez de Lezo, Cuatrecasas, Garrigues, Gómez-Acebo & Pombo, Pérez-Llorca, RocaJunyent, Sagardoy Abogados and Uría Menéndez.
On February 22, the LawAhead Center had the pleasure of welcoming Professor Wilkins to the event. He led an engaging discussion on lawyering in the era of sustainability, stakeholders, and social justice.
“The IE Law School LawAhead Center reflects the present moment,” Professor Wilkins argued. “We’re living in interesting and truly unprecedented times.” The COVID-19 crisis has created a lot of new legal work: new laws, new programs, redesigned institutions, and an explosion in public-private partnerships. As a result, it has also challenged the traditional understanding of lawyering, calling for lawyers with new skills and responsibilities, capable of providing more than just legal services.
It’s not just the pandemic, either. The legal profession is changing rapidly due to a broad spectrum of complex and multifaceted challenges, including the climate crisis, economic instability, and an increasing focus on sustainability, stakeholders, and social and racial justice. The majority of law students are now women and from diverse backgrounds, yet the profession remains dominated by straight white men, especially at the top levels.
“The IE Law School LawAhead Center reflects the present moment.”
Professor David B. Wilkins
The legal ecosystem itself is changing, with a growing range of providers competing and helping to reshape the boundaries, norms, and practices of the legal profession. This requires lawyers to embrace the need for change—and the biggest change of all will be the people, as Millennials and Gen Z make up a growing percentage of the workforce.
“Think about how you’re going to engage with your team, particularly its younger members. This isn’t about annual performance reviews; it’s about how to drive this profession we love and keep it strong.”
The following day, on February 23, Professor Wilkins put his own advice into practice and delivered a masterclass on how to lead a happy, healthy, and successful life as a 21st-century lawyer to students of IE Law School’s Master of Laws (LL.M.), alongside others from various MBA programs. After the masterclass, the students were able to chat with him one-on-one at an informal cocktail party.
Professor Wilkins’ visit to the IE Law School LawAhead Center was the first in a series of activities scheduled to take place throughout the year.
David B. Wilkins is the Lester Kissel Professor of Law and faculty director of the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School. He is a senior research fellow of the American Bar Foundation, the Harvard Law School’s vice dean for global initiatives on the legal profession, and a faculty associate of the Harvard University Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics.