Is it true that in-house lawyers dislike change more than their clients dislike change?

“Lawyers, as a group, have a higher aversion to change than business people.” This adamant quote comes from Janet Langford Kelly, Susan Sneider and Kelly Fox, “The Relationship Between the Legal Department and the Corporation,” in Successful Partnering Between Inside and Outside Counsel (Robert Haig, Ed.) Vol. 1, Chapter 16 at 16-16. The authors adduce no support for this unflattering proposition, as if it is self-evident (See my post of Dec. 21, 2008: change management with 16 references cited.).

More analytic, perhaps than business executives, lawyers may tend to poke holes in proposed changes; with more tendencies to be risk averse, lawyers may resist the unknowns of change; steeped in precedent, lawyers may not want to venture into new ways of working; imbued with a sense of tradition, novelty has less allure; and bent on stamping out legal risks, why change if that creates different risks than the status quo?

Pop psychology aside, the more in-housers align with their clients, the more they may learn to accept change. The more creativity and innovation finds rewards, the less lawyers will baulk at change (See my post of Aug. 24, 2008: lawyers and risk averse behavior with 11 references.).

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