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Non-Lawyer: The Velvet Rope

February 20, 2020

law company inclusion non-lawyers

When we started Elevate, we wanted to build a safe workplace where everyone felt included, where everyone felt valued and where everyone could bring their whole selves to work. So we spent a lot of time on our Equitability & Inclusion report, on trying not to have a gender pay gap and on ensuring members of the LGBTQ+ and BAME communities are well represented and feel happy working here.

So it surprised me when I found myself feeling excluded from some parts of our community and feeling a bit of a second-class citizen for none of the above reasons, but because some of my colleagues started calling me a ‘non-lawyer’ to my face.

Now you may say what’s the problem with that? After all, I am not a lawyer! I don’t pretend to be a lawyer and I don’t want to be a lawyer. I don’t want people to think I am a lawyer. So that is not my issue.

My issue is that I am being defined by what I am not, rather than what I am. Which makes me feel like I am on the wrong side of a velvet rope. Not ‘part of the club.’

I happened to mention this to Julie Savarino and she posted about it on LinkedIn. That post got over 100k hits, so clearly other people feel strongly on the topic too! There are lots of skills needed to succeed in the legal industry today. Being a lawyer is one of them; being a data scientist is another; being a salesperson is another; being a project manager is another–so let us try to define ourselves by the value we bring to our businesses (rather than by an exam we chose not to sit over thirty years ago).

“Let’s all stop using ‘NON-LAWYER!’”

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