Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Exemplar's Zero Tolerance Policy for Negativity

Did you know that law is one of two professions of one hundred four professions where pessimists perform the best? This is no surprise because lawyers are trained to identify the problems with everything. What's more, those who perform best on law school exams are, in fact, those who identify and argue the most "issues" and those who offer solutions are graded down or offered no credit for their solution-orientation. This training seems to a bit backwards if you consider that clients really want solutions. After all, anyone can argue that our welfare system sucks. . . and I would not be impressed with such a conclusion. . . but I would be astonished if someone came up with a better idea. Do you think it would be any different for your customers? We don't think so.

Exemplar has a policy to only hire attorneys who are capable of seeing beyond the problems to a solution for our customers. We have something we call "solution-discipline" at Exemplar that permeates our culture. Being around a group of "positive" people on a daily basis creates a tremendous energy that helps us to provide the best service to our customers every day. In addition, it promotes a productive and happy work environment that is so severely needed in our industry. As a firm that is growing fast, though, we are also aware that a positive culture is very sensitive (see merger of Coopers & Lybrant with Price Waterhouse). It only takes one Grinch to ruin Christmas for a lot of people (disclaimer: the grinch has also been shown to ruin Hanukkah, Qwanza, and other important holidays). I think we all know a Grinch. Often, they are biggest producers in the office or those with the most power or egos. Now, close your eyes, imagine you are Donald Trump, and exclaim to that person with a grin of pleasure "Yer Fired!" Feels good, doesn't it? You see, at Exemplar we are all the guardians of our positive culture. You cannot buy a position at our firm with your book of business. In fact, we have turned several of them away. Your name will not be on the door no matter how many hours you can bill. If you need a power trip then you need a personality transplant, not a managing partner position. These people will not find an open door to Exemplar, and if one of them ever finds a side door (note: even Jack Welch only made the right hiring decisions 80% of the time at the height of his career), then our "positive" people will most proudly proclaim "Yer Fired." At Exemplar, the practice of law is not about our ego, it is about Excellence, Leadership, Integrity, Team, Trust, Respect, Communication, and Equanimity. . . the very values that will distinguish us well into the future.


JustinCPA said...

Non-combative attorneys? What a concept! Finding fault and developing a constructive solution requires much more thought and intelligence than just finding fault. I'm also sure your customers will be refreshed by the difference (not to mention your fixed prices!).

ChinaLawBlog said...

Nice. I try to do the same here. I particularly hate when the lawyer complains about the client who wants to be constantly updated. I handle that by pointing out how much they are paying and asking the lawyer to try to stand in their shoes.

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