AQ – The Competitive Advantage the Legal Profession Needs (especially now)!

April 21, 2020

Over the years, an essential skill has emerged and become increasingly important for career and organization success. Most haven’t heard of it, and certainly very few look for it in new hires or organizations. We all know about Intelligence Quotient (IQ), the ability to learn and understand, as well as Emotional Quotient (EQ), the ability to recognize, understand, and manage emotions.

We know lawyers are smart and educated and have a high IQ. Most lawyers also have a strong EQ, which imparts them with better interpersonal, client service, and leadership skills. Any successful lawyer will have both high IQ and high EQ. In fact, research shows EQ can be a more effective indicator of success than IQ.

To round out the ‘Q’s, we now have Adaptability Quotient (AQ). In 2011, Harvard Business Review described AQ as ‘the new competitive advantage’. Few are familiar with AQ, although it has now come to the forefront of discussions amongst business leaders and talent management experts.

Adaptability Quotient (AQ)


Adaptability Quotient (AQ) is the ability to adjust to unanticipated changes in the market and turn these challenges into opportunities for greater achievement. The workplace is everchanging, and adaptability has become a crucial part of building a successful career and business. This may mean developing new skills, lines of business, embracing new technology, or finding new ways of meeting client expectations. For individuals, AQ is the ability to change his/her actions, course and/or approach to doing things in order to suit a new situation.

Over the past decade, the legal profession has undergone significant change and the need for lawyers with a high AQ has also increased. Little did we know, even at the beginning of this year, that the entire world would be forced to transform so quickly and so suddenly. In just a matter of weeks, AQ has been propelled to the forefront.


Importance of Adaptability Quotient 


As technology changes exponentially, so does the way we work. In 2016, The World Economic Forum estimated 65% of jobs that currently exist will no longer exist by the time current primary school children enter the workforce. The rise of technology has had a profound impact on the legal profession, changing the way legal services are provided and increasing pressure to reduce costs. We need to learn faster and adapt quickly.

The Covid-19 pandemic has most of the world working remotely. Overnight, the legal profession has been forced to change to Work-from-Home arrangements, online video meetings, and virtual arbitrations and court appearances. It’s important to pivot, think, and behave according to the market. Like IQ and EQ, AQ is not fixed and can be improved through continued practice. Ultimately, businesses and individuals that embrace flexibility and adjust to change are most likely to endure and succeed.


Adaptability Quotient and Diversity & Inclusion 


AQ is closely aligned with Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). The importance an organization gives to D&I reflects its AQ. It’s proven that diverse teams with different perspectives and backgrounds drive innovation and success. Entrepreneurs do this in spades; however, the legal profession has been accused of a slow rate of reform. Some firms and law departments have placed a higher premium on D&I and their AQ is higher than others. It’s imperative all organizations prepare for and adapt to the changing legal landscape to ensure their continued success. Reviewing your organization’s D&I efforts is critical right now.

While we don’t know the outcome of our current situation, it’s safe to say the world will be different. New opportunities will present themselves and as we navigate these new issues, adapt ourselves accordingly, and reach new successes, the gap between early adopters of change and naysayers should close.

This forced change will drive law firms and companies of all sizes to adapt, become nimbler and implement new ideas to not only survive, but to thrive and reap the benefits change can bring.

If you need further information on how you or your organization can raise its AQ, please do not hesitate to contact a team member at The Counsel Network. We are here to answer any questions you may have.


Dal Bhathal, Managing Partner


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