The new leader of Husch Blackwell has a background in business. He is not a lawyer. But calling him a “nonlawyer” turned out to be highly offensive to many of the professional staff within law firms who argue (through many blogs, LinkedIn and Facebook posts over the past few days) that the term we used in the headline and body of the story does a “disservice” to business professionals in law firms and is plain old “lazy” writing.
In part, the argument, and it’s a valid one, is that using the word focuses on what the person is not, rather than what they are. The bigger complaint is that calling business professionals nonlawyers perpetuates a caste system within law firms in which lawyers look down on those without a law degree, failing to appreciate the exact advice for which they pay those business professionals. This column is focused on that very issue: but first some quick thoughts on The American Lawyer’s decision to use the term “nonlawyer.”
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