I recently suggested lawyers call “timeout” when they see a problem in how law is practiced

Doctors and pilots use checklists and have the ability to call timeout. I think a big difference between lawyers and other professionals is that lawyer errors may never become visible. Who will know that a transaction term is bad unless that transaction is subsequently questioned? Who will know that the proverbial smoking gun document was overlooked? Who will know that a better regulatory strategy was available? To be sure, lawyer errors do come to light and clients do sue lawyers for malpractice.

In the absence, however, of systematic metrics and checks and balances found in other professions, lawyers are, at least relatively speaking, their own minders. BigLaw lawyers like to think of themselves as brain surgeons – “everything I do is one-off and delicate.” Continue that analogy (however mythological it might be). Look at all the prep, checklists, and folks looking on when the brain surgeon is prepping or in the O.R. Even if you analogize to great artists consider how much technique both modern and classical great artists apply.

If I were a general counsel, I might want an artist or brain surgeon lawyer, but I’d want her to be backed up by a bunch of engineers or equivalent. Someone to make sure the process is right.