There is a mythic quality to what is happening in the world today. We are players in an epic fairy tale that will be told and re-told in awe-filled tones in centuries to come. Human society faces existential threats. A global pandemic sweeps through society, and economic turmoil is coming, while looming on the horizon are the twin sisters of climate change and ecosystem collapse. Yet political leaders waste time bickering amongst themselves and society fragments. Who will save us from ourselves?

In our great myths there are often ambiguous characters who have an important role in the unfolding of…


Doctors…still retain a high degree of public confidence because they are perceived as healers. Should lawyers not be healers? Healers, not warriors? Healers, not procurers? Healers, not hired guns?” Warren Burger, Chief Justice, U.S. Supreme Court (1969–1986)

It sounds almost preposterous, the idea of a lawyer being a healer, doesn’t it? If it wasn’t someone as eminent as Warren Burger who suggested it, we might simply laugh and dismiss the idea. My question is, what if we didn’t laugh? What if we were to take the idea seriously?

Actually, the idea of a lawyer as healer is not such a…


London in the 1855 must have been a stimulating place. A bustling city in the heart of the British Empire, it was going through an unprecedented period of growth, from one million people in 1800 to seven million people a hundred years later. There was a constant and pressing need for new infrastructure; roads, bridges, railroads and public buildings, requiring plenty of capital to fund it. The London Stock Exchange was booming. Although rewards were high for those who got lucky, it must have been nerve-wracking to be an investor in those days. If a project failed you might lose…


I’m musing on death and life. COVID 19 is bringing death, a nasty, painful death apparently, to many people around the globe

It’s hard, when you go through the agony and anguish of losing a loved one, to remember that death is an essential part of life, a twin sister. Without death, there is no life. A walk in the woods should make that clear; dead leaves feed the soil that feeds the tree, dead wood feeds fungi and insects that feed other creatures. It’s all part of life’s rich cycle. …


“Get a job” said a passing stranger to me the other morning.

I didn’t ask for his advice — I was sitting, minding my own business, with my eyes closed outside the Houses of Parliament. I was taking part in the 24/7 40 day Lenten multi-faith vigil that my Buddhist friend Satya Robyn and others have initiated.

I am interested in the reaction that my non-violent non-action aroused. Why did he feel the need to comment? Was it a piece of friendly advice? …


As a general rule, ownership brings responsibility. If you own a car that pollutes, or a dog that injures another creature, you can be fined or go to jail. Even owning a t-shirt or a pair of socks brings responsibility — if you don’t dispose of them properly, there are fines for littering.

So it’s something of an anomaly that the owners of companies have no legal responsibility for their actions. If you own a share in a company that breaks the law, pollutes the environment or even kills someone, you can’t be touched. Is this not strange?

This is…


I feel pity for whoever wins the Tory leadership contest. They are all seriously deluded. They think they are fighting for power. Yet the winner will have no more influence over their, or our, destiny than a newly appointed captain of the Titanic would have done once the ship was holed.

They will take over the helm of a troubled nation, its citizens bemused at the country’s loss of global influence, by the increasing division between the haves and have-nots, and by their continued failure to achieve a sense of true prosperity, despite them working harder and harder and harder…


Purpose is a popular theme amongst business gurus, consultants and strategists these days. Business magazine Forbes publishes articles that urge its readers to make purpose “a pivotal part of your business strategy”. Motivational speaker Simon Sinek tells leaders to “Start with Why”. Leading the charge are the B corps, who are building a movement of businesses that “balance purpose and profit”.

This makes good business sense. There is plenty of research to suggest that articulating a clear, non-financial, purpose leads to greater staff engagement and productivity, and thus greater success for the business in the long-term. After decades of lazy…


A long time ago, at the end of the last century,

When I was starting off in the world of work,

it was possible, even normal, when running a business,

to treat money and growth as the highest priority

and ignore the wider consequences.

That age of innocence is over.

We have seen what the heedless pursuit of growth can do and it is not pretty.

Drug companies bribe doctors to over-prescribe medication.

Food retailers treat animals and customers alike as mere commodities,

valued only for their contribution to the bottom line.

Car manufacturers pollute the air and lie about…

Patrick Andrews

barefoot lawyer. Co-founder of Human Organising Co. Writes about governance and the future of work and organisations. See barefootlawyer.uk

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