Friday, June 02, 2006

The Hearts and Minds of Our People

This week at an interview with an attorney candidate I distinctly recall a comment that he made about our people at the end of the interview. It was the end of the business day and, one by one over a 20 minute period, several of our team members passed by the conference room as they were leaving for the day. As usual, all passed by with a smile, a brief introduction to the candidate, and we exchanged our best wishes for the evening. The candidate told me that he hasn't seen so many happy people together in a very long time. I think deeply and often about why we wake up and do what we do every day at Exemplar. I think about the challenges of market leadership, understanding quite well that it involves swimming upstream (after all, only dead fish go with the current, right?) There are so many easier paths to take than to set out to change a paradigm. Why do we do it? Because of the hundreds of letters we get from people saying how refreshing it is to see a firm that cares enough to face, head on, the problems in our industry. . . because of the bloggers who write about how long they have been waiting to see such a change. . . because of the acknowledgment by Supreme Court justice, Stephen Breyer, that the billable hour system has "in many ways . . . diminished the practice of law," saying "I can't think of a more important problem facing the profession.". . . because of the hundred' s of attorneys I have met who know how an environment that frees you from accounting for your life in 6-minute increments is life-changing . . . because of in-house counsel and legal consumers who tell us regularly that they support what we are doing as a firm. To everyone out there who "gets it," it is because of you that our people have made a choice to dedicate their careers to this mission. You are everyday in the hearts and minds of our people. I somehow believe that we all set out to find true meaning in what we do as professionals. With the vision of Exemplar and your support, we are never more than a heartbeat away from the "true meaning" we seek . . . the kind that puts smiles on the faces of our team members when the arrive at the office every day and depart in the evening. That is a kind of happiness which you cannot buy, and which we will never sell.

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