Rebel Uprising Podcast

People Over Paper with Glenn Meier

Glenn Meier is joining us this week on the podcast. Glenn is an attorney who, simply said, puts people over paper.

His practice is devoted to helping his clients design, build, maintain, and restore their important business relationships.  In doing this work, Glenn blends legal analytical skills with a strong dose of emotional intelligence, and a coaching approach to working with his clients to deliver relationships that are not only legally sound but based shared values with tools to engage disruptions creatively and productively (via Conscious Contracts).

I believe that his innovative thinking is one that should back every contract that you, as a business owner, create for your clients and vendors.

In his episode, we talk about

  • Why Glenn is rebelling against a legal system that forces everybody who participates in it to treat each other like they're enemies.
  • How he is trying to advance and push for the rise of a collaborative legal system that exists alongside and in harmony with the current system.
  • The way in which we can all run our businesses and structure our contracts to serve both you and your relationships.

There's a lot of good stuff in this conversation, but I think one of the most important things to remember is that you can take part in a legal system that is based in a true win-win.

Tune in or read through the transcript below

Michelle:

Hi Glenn, welcome to the Rebel Rising Podcast. I'm so excited to have you on the show today.

Glenn:

Thank you so much, Michelle. I'm very excited to be here and talk with you and your audience.

Michelle:

Yes, yes. You are my favorite lawyer and you are the lawyer that I talk about all the time because you literally defy expectation about what a lawyer is all about and I am here for it.

So with that, why don't you tell us what you're rebelling against?

Glenn:

Well, put pretty simply, I'm rebelling against a legal system that forces everybody who participates in it to treat each other like they're enemies. Plenty of times you get involved in legal situations with somebody and that's the right way to treat the other person, like an enemy. Because they're kind of treating you like an enemy.

But what I have found, and I've been doing this work I should tell you now, for almost 30 years, the legal work. And what I kept finding was that there were people who were going through the process and getting what the system would say are good results, they were winning their cases. But they were still feeling very unsatisfied. And one of the prime drivers that I was able to see for that dissatisfaction was that going through whatever dispute resolution process they had to do in the legal system ended up being really, really hard on the relationship at issue.

Glenn:

And I had plenty of clients for whom those relationships were really important. So it was like, "Yes, here you go, here I delivered you a good result in this case." And the response was kind of like, "Well that's good that we got this result. But I also wasn't really expecting to have to pay the price of a broken relationship." And relationships are really important and really valuable in business.

So if you have a relationship with a supplier that's ongoing for years and then something happens in a legal situation and it ends up fracturing that relationship and then you have to go out and you have to source a new supplier and you have to start building up trust with them again. So it's actually a drain on the business to go and do that. That was kind of the problem I really started to see. And then I said I want to have a solution for this problem of legal processes that end up hurting important business relationships.

Michelle:

And that's so interesting because I think a lot of the times we approach our contracts as a way to protect us from the other person that we're in the relationship with. And sometimes that person is really important. They're like our business partner, or they are a client. Yeah, they're a vendor who we're sourcing something from. And you don't think about the relationship ramifications at all.

Glenn:

Yeah. So, I actually had a very interesting experience kind of early on in this process that really brought what you were talking about into kind of sharp relief for me so that I could see it. Here's kind of the setup for the story, which is that I'd been doing business law for a long time. It's very common to have people come in and ask me to help them prepare a contract. And if I could pick one word that was sort of the common thread of what they were looking for in the contract was “protect” me. And it was all about how are you going to protect me by writing the language of the contract the right way? So it's very paper focused. The words on the paper are really, really critical.

Glenn:

So a few years ago I was, like I said, I was on this quest for different approaches. And I ran across a woman who had developed an approach to contracts that was very collaborative. It was based on coming up with an agreement about shared values between the people who were in the contract. And it was based on coming up with your own proprietary process for how you were going to solve problems when they came up.

I had heard about this work that she was doing, and it was very interesting to me. So I reached out and I made contact with her. And eventually got around to saying, "I'd like to study with you and I'd like to learn about this approach." She said, "No problem. We'll set it up. We'll have our first session next week and your homework for going into the first session ..."

Glenn:

You know, lawyers, we're really big on having homework before the first class, which I suppose tells you a lot about how our brains work, which is a whole nother story. But anyway, so my homework before this first class was to just let her know what my expectations were about working with her.

So I did what any good lawyer does. I got up my trusty yellow legal pad and I got out a pen and I just started writing things down. And the things that I would write down were things like, "Well, what language do we use for this part of the agreement?" And, "How do you take this particular paragraph and maybe incorporate it into an existing legal document?" And, "What are the magic words that we have to make sure go into the contract?" And you're probably hearing from me that, right? That was my mindset at the time. And it was very much ... And I didn't even realize it at the time, but I was very much on that paper focus.

Michelle:

Yeah. That has nothing to do with the relationship or the people at all.

Glenn:

Exactly. Exactly. So I give my list to the woman and say, "Here's what I expect." And she said, "Okay, cool." She said, "We're going to cover all of that stuff." So I felt good. I was like, "Okay, good. I must've had a lot of right answers."

Michelle:

I get an A.

Glenn:

Yes, gold star. I love the gold stars. So she said, "Yeah, we're going to cover all that stuff," and I feel really good. And she said, "And that is going to take us like an hour. And then the rest of the time that we're working together is going to be about helping you re-understand really what purpose does a contract serve and how can you help people create an agreement between themselves that will help them solve their problems in a way that's mutually beneficial and preserve their relationship?"

So now I started seeing, okay, wait, there's this whole other world besides the paper. And it's really what I see, it's the people world.

Glenn:

Because there's an interesting thing about that protection that you get in the paper of a legal document. And I want to be clear, there is protection in there. But it's a very specific kind of protection, right? Because it's a protection that is based on you're going to go to somebody outside of your relationship and ask them to punish the other person for doing something wrong. And that punishment comes in the form of compensation to you for how you were harmed. I mean, there's a bunch of interesting things about that. One is it's really easy to pick up on the fact that the legal system is not really big on the idea of preventing future harm.

Michelle:

No.

Glenn:

It is much more focused on, "Okay, harm has happened and how are we going to compensate somebody for it?"

Michelle:

Yes.

Glenn:

So, that's interesting. The other thing that was really interesting as I started to think about this more and unpack the difference between people and paper more is that I realized how heavily structured the existing legal system was for a certain kind of relationship and it's that enemies relationship that I mentioned before.

Michelle:

Yeah. The acrimonious one, like we already hate each other now. Like, "Help me get what's mine."

Glenn:

Right. So all of the rules of that system are designed for people who are enemies.

Michelle:

Yes.

Glenn:

And the people who operate that system, lawyers like myself who've spent a lot of time, that impacts our mindsets. And our mindsets get very much in that, "Oh, the person on the other side of this case is the enemy and they need to be crushed and destroyed." And all of those things that come up when you are really very heavily adversarially focused. Then what I started to realize was that when you have those two things that I mentioned before, the rules of the process, the process and the mindset of the people who are running the process, those two things are going to drive the outcomes of the process.

Glenn:

So when you say, "Okay, I'm going to readdress a legal issue I have and I'm going to go into this formal legal system." Well, you're deciding to go into a system where the rules say the other person's the enemy and the thinking of your guide through the process is probably going to be unconsciously dominated by the idea that this is win, lose, crush the enemy kind of endeavor. Then that is going to drive you towards results that tend to be results where you have a winner and a loser. And sometimes it works out so that each side wins a little bit and each side loses a little bit. That's sort of a compromise. But nowhere in all of that system was I able to get to the point where you would get to what people would feel like was a win-win.

Michelle:

Yes.

Glenn:

Yeah.

Michelle:

Yes. And I bet, that kind of leads us to the next question.

What change do you want to create in the world? What is that?

Glenn:

Exactly. Exactly. So really what I'm looking to do is, it's actually, I'm really lucky. Because I don't really have to create anything. These tools are already out there. Like I mentioned, I found a woman that I studied with about a contracting process. There are, in many states across the country, there are formal laws that are passed that give people an option to have collaborative dispute resolution instead of adversarial dispute resolution. So I'm lucky that I don't have to create the tools from the ground up. But what I do have to do in the change that I really have to make is I want people to have full access to those legal tools that if they want to be in win-win mode, they can use, and if they want to protect their ongoing relationship they can use them. What I really have to do is I have to let more people know about it and let more people know that it's an option. So I'm trying to really advance and push for the rise of a collaborative legal system that exists alongside and in harmony with the current system.

Michelle:

Yes. And I'm going to do a spoiler. Glenn's 3 Word Rebellion is people over paper, which I feel is like, you were so close to saying so many times. But I love that because ... I mean, it's so different. And how do you…

I'm just curious, how do your colleagues perceive you since you're doing something that is so really out there and radically different from everyone else in your industry?

Glenn:

Yeah. There's a lot of answers to that question. Let's just right off the table say, there's a fair number of people around who think I'm a “weird lawyer”.

Michelle:

You kind of are, and it's in the best way possible.

Glenn:

If that's the label we want to put on it, that is a label, if it's in service of this movement, I will wear that label proudly. If that makes me weird, I don't want to be normal.

Michelle:

I love that.

Glenn:

Now, the other thing though, is that as I start to kind of scratch underneath this ... So, there's really three groups, right? There's the people who think I'm weird and then there's the people who right away say, "Oh, that's really cool." And then there's the people who are kind of like, "I think that might be weird." Or, "I don't really know what to think about it," like that's the surface reaction that they give me. But then deep down underneath they're like, "Wow, that sounds really cool." And, "That sounds like something I am interested in being able to bring to my clients." Yeah, there's a variety of options for how people react to me.

Michelle:

Yeah. Well I think it's really interesting. Because something I always talk about in my own work, whenever you're doing something new, you're going to have people who just outright reject it and be like, "Okay, that is the weirdest thing I've ever heard. It's never going to work. No, no, no." And you go, "Okay, thank you. Have a nice day." And then there are the people, you say it and they're like, "I am in, I'm all in. I'm there for you. Let me know how I can help." And then there's always that third group who they're skeptical, but underneath when they start thinking about it, hearing more about it, they're like, "Oh, what if that could work? What would my job look like instead of working with people who were at each other's throats, who are enemies that were trying to crush and kill, that we were instead trying to resolve in a win-win way that was actually building the relationship or helping the relationship survive?”

Glenn:

Exactly. Here's what really excites me about that, what you just said. Which is that, so my focus is in business law. And I'm really attracted to business law because I look at business as a tool for really improving people's lives. So that's what makes me passionate about serving business people, particularly business people who have that focus of I want to improve other people's lives.

Michelle:

Yes.

Glenn:

Yeah. And that's a group that's getting bigger and bigger, right?

Michelle:

Oh, yeah.

Glenn:

You're starting to see more and more business people stand up and say, "Hey, how we treat other people, not just our stockholders, but how we treat other people is important. And we've got to treat people in more of a ..." I'll just keep sticking with this win-win label, because that's an easy one for people to understand. So what excites me about that, is to those people, and I actually, I heard this from a client of mine. And he really kind of gave me the courage to then take this message out and deliver it to other people. Which is that if you say that win-win relationships are important to your approach to business, then finding a collaborative lawyer who can assist you is pretty much mandatory.

Michelle:

Yes.

Glenn:

Right? Because if you put yourself in the win-lose system, but you say, "I'm going to crank a win-win result out of it," you're just fighting the system. And it's so difficult that those kinds of good results tend to happen in spite of the system, not because of the system. And again, what I'm trying to let people know is no, no, no, no, no. There is a system out there that actually drives people towards those results that you're talking about. And if you mean what you say about the importance of your business relationships and how you want them to proceed, then this is really something that you have to explore.

Michelle:

Yeah, you don't have a choice. If you want to walk the talk, then this is the model that you should choose. And then really it's upon you to spread the word about this. Because probably the one reason that people aren't choosing it is that they don't know it's an option.

Glenn:

I agree with that. And it's, I think we mentioned really quickly at the beginning that there's so much of an image that you have, especially in our society when you think of what a lawyer means.

Michelle:

Yes.

Glenn:

And we get really a lot of preconceptions built up in our heads based on what we see on LA Law or the Practice or insert your favorite legal TV show that's on now. We see that, so we say, "Well, that's really what lawyers are all about." And then maybe you have an experience with lawyers and you run across people who are very argumentative and contrarian and that sort of cements that idea. So I think really the biggest challenge that I have in getting the message across to people is, it sort of first has to start with breaking down those assumptions about what it means when somebody is a lawyer.

Michelle:

Yes. And I think that's a big issue for anyone who is in an industry where people think they know what you do, whether that's you're a copywriter, or you're a business coach or a life coach, or you do photography, people have these preconceived notions. So they are like, "Oh, you're a lawyer. Well now suddenly I'm thinking about Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad." And you're like, "No, I am not that kind of lawyer." In fact, it's totally different.

So how do you get people to bring down those walls and go, "Oh, there's a different way to do law. 

Glenn:

Yeah. So one way that I've picked to kind of help break through that mindset that people have, is to take something that just seems to have no connection to law whatsoever and talk to people about that in a way that shows, no, this is actually, this is what's different about working with a collaborative based lawyer instead of an adversarial based lawyer. So an example about that is that I got asked to talk to a local group here later this week. And I sent them a list of some things that I could talk about. And they looked at it and they said, "Well, why don't you pick this topic?" And the topic was, well, how do you design a meeting that makes people excited to go to it, to feel like it's going to be productive and it's not just going to be a waste of their time?

Glenn:

And I talked to somebody in the office and I said, "Yeah, I'm going to do this speaking gig." And they were like, "Well, what the heck does that have to do with being a lawyer?" And I said, "Well, I'm trying to introduce people to this new kind of law. And the way to show how different it is, is to really do something that you wouldn't think has anything to do with the law."

So yeah, in a few days from when we're recording this, I'm going to be talking to a group of people about how do you design a meeting that really lets everybody who's participating in the meeting bring their best talents to the meeting? What does that have to do with lawyers? Well, a lot of what collaborative lawyers do is kind of guide people through working through their problems. Or, and this is a cool thing about collaboration, is that you also start to get away from, "Oh, I only can use a lawyer when I have a problem."

Glenn:

Because now it's like, "Oh, if a lawyer can help us collaborate better, then we can actually do better things and not even get to the point of having a problem." So I say if that's what we're doing, if we're helping people work together better, if we're helping people communicate together better, if we're helping people follow through on their plans and intentions better. Well, a meeting is sort of, I call it the fundamental unit of collaboration. You can't collaborate without meeting with people.

Michelle:

Oh darn, no kidding.

Glenn:

So I said, "Okay, well here we go." That's how we will introduce people to collaborative law. Show them that a lawyer can give them tips and tricks on how to work together better and how to have better meetings. And it was one of those things where at first they were like, "Really? Lawyers, what? Why does this ... What?" And by the end, as I'm explaining it, they're like, "Oh, okay, I see. You're really trying to show that you can do different stuff." And the best way to show that you can do different stuff is to do different stuff.

Michelle:

Yeah. Do different stuff. And you're really emphasizing the relationship aspect of the law, versus ... And let's face it, that's going to probably be a way more interesting talk for everyone than if you went and talked about contracts.

Glenn:

Yeah. Well because that's ... let's face it, that gets kind of dull.

Michelle:

Yes. Yes. So, one last question for you.

Glenn:

Okay.

Michelle:

If everyone acted on your message of people over paper, what do you think the world would be like?

Glenn:

You know what? I think ... this is what I think is so cool about it. Is not that, oh, all of a sudden everybody's going to find out that this is the best way to live and we're all going to get along together better and collaboration is awesome. I mean, all of those things are true. But there are some people who just aren't going to be with that. So what I think, if everybody acted on this message, what would really happen is people would be completely purposeful in how they related to other people. So it's like, "Oh, this is a relationship where maybe there's not a lot of trust built up yet. I have to be really careful, I have to protect myself more, I have to make sure the person's not going to hurt me. I have to tone down the vulnerability a little bit."

Glenn:

Versus, "Oh, okay, now I know. Here's somebody that I know I've got a level of trust with, I've got history with, we've gone through this process of defining our relationship." Just going through that process of defining their relationship tends to strengthen the relationship. So I can be confident in how I act in that relationship. Really the benefit for everybody would be to be able to, in any given relationship, act in the way that serves both you and that relationship the best.

Michelle:

Oh, I love that. I love that. Thank you so much, Glenn. And let us ... Yeah, where can everyone find you online?

Glenn:

I have a personal website that you can go to.

Michelle:

Awesome. And if you are interested in how you can actually build relationships using the law, I do recommend that you go and check Glenn out. I love that you are disrupting the legal industry and trying to revolutionize how we interact with it. Thank you so much for being here today.

Glenn:

Thank you, Michelle. It was a pleasure.

 

Create Your One-of-a-Kind Message

Your 3 Word Rebellion is the Key to Growing Your Business & Impact

Yes! I’m ready to rebel!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

GET READY FOR
YOUR NEW FOUND POPULARITY!

mail

Create your one-of-a-kind message that is the ultimate hook and the message you want to be known for!

The 3 Word Rebellion is the key to go from business owner to thought leader.

Read our Privacy Notice. Unsubscribe anytime.