Sunday, April 09, 2006

Reinventing The (Square) Wheel

The great thing about reinventing a wheel that had not been examined for 50 years is that you realize just how square it really is. Our Executive Committee will be examining every discipline of management over the next several months to determine how the Firm of the Future should operate. Together, we will explore best practices (from outside the legal industry) in knowledge management, marketing, customer relations, operations, and human resources, among others. The implications of our discussions and subsequent decisions will be both broad and deep. Unlike most firms where the attorneys tell the management team what they can and cannot do, our organization will empower our executives to do what they do best. What enables Exemplar Law Parnters to succeed in this regard is a team of attorneys who respect the management function and do not pretend to be experts in every area of business by virtue of having a law degree. The level of trust and respect that is displayed amongst our professionals is the highest I have seen in my career. Our key challenge as we grow exponentially will be to maintain this culture that is based firmly on a set of eight core values. I will be pleased to report our progress as we make key decisions over the next several months.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After reading most of the comments on this blog, I want to send you a hearty congrats. Finally, a lawyer who gets it. Hope the attorneys out there take your advice. Me - sixteen years as a legal assistant and on the insistence of my doctor, I am leaving the profession because it is making me so sick. Sadly, I leave the very people that I used to idolize so much.

Before I leave, I'd like to share some random thoughts about working for lawyers that I hope you'll print even though it is long. It's about the staff - or people who know you almost as well as your mother. It is the only thing you'll ever hear from me and maybe it will help in your quest to reinvent the wheel.

Attorneys: Yes, I know you have a business to run. However -- stop micromanaging your employees. I managed to graduate from college with a 3.8 GPA and a teaching certificate. Apparently, I can manage myself. Have policies in place, stop making up rules on the spot and then pretend like it was a fact all along. Hint: Most legal assistants are pretty sharp - we know when you are lying. Stop gathering information about employees from the other employees -- Everyone has their own agenda and that doesn't necessarily coincide with the truth. Flextime and benefits are not dirty words. Short and long term disability insurance can save you money in the long run. Trust me. Bottom kissing doesn't equal competence. Take a closer look - why would a competent employee have to manipulate you that way? Stop asking us to lie for you - especially to your spouses (you know who you are). Yes, that new young associate is a knockout but she is not the princess of the universe and she could learn a lot from the staff instead of making our lives miserable. Spend a little more money on technology for your employees, it's ridiculous to expect A+ work from employees who are using computers, printers, monitors, etc. that should have been pitched five years ago. A staff meeting is not a rip into all the employees meeting. Discourage gossiping and clique forming. Someone always suffers because it encourages the same dynamics as a dysfunctional family. And quit acting like you never make a mistake. Yes, You Do Make Mistakes - all the time -- we catch them, fix them and move on. Leaving us nasty little notes when a minor mistake is made is cruel...and anal. And truly, whenever you make a mistake, forgot something, whatever...quit trying to make it our fault. No one is buying it. We all have families who need us as much as you do. We don't control the weather or the traffic or school holidays, etc. - quit being such a psycho about it when we are a few minutes late - we have more than made up the time ten times over and you know it. We have been there for your every whim for several years, try treating us with the same respect that we treated you.Would it surprise you to know that I have shared your notes, memos, conversations and temper tantrums I have been taping with my doctor and he says you have borderline and/or narcissitic personality disorder? And last but not least - check out The Container Store HR policies. They are consistently in the top ten lists of the best places to work.

I know this doesn't apply to all attorneys but it does apply to far too many. Far too many. It's sad from a profession that is supposed to have such high moral codes.