I am interested in the interaction of a group of people who have a common goal, or a common obsession, each contributing something unique to make something greater than the sum of its parts. I don’t know why, but from day one, that has interested me. – Steven Van Zandt, Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band
I believe that today you can project the stability of your law firm.
The number one factor isn’t the economy. It isn’t even about how efficient your management team is in transitioning to the new normal.
The single greatest predictor of a law firm’s stability — through good as well as tough times — is the degree to which the partners share aspirations.
In fact, it is really pretty simple. The more disparate the aspirations in a partnership, the more difficult it is to maintain harmony.
If you find yourself in a less than harmonious firm, you’re not alone. The hiring priorities of most law firms exacerbate the issue. When it comes to hiring entry-level associates, little matters but grades. And when hiring partners laterally, the expected portable business trumps everything else (even though reality rarely measures up to those projections).
You might try conducting a blind survey in your firm to see the extent to which your partners or lawyers perspectives on 5 simple issues vary.
Pose these aspiration-based questions:
- All partners should work at a minimum billable level of ________
- All lawyers should commit a minimum of______ hours to pro-bono work.
- Should the firm accommodate lawyer part-time schedules
- What is a reasonable target for senior partner compensation.
- How do you rank the following on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being most important:
- Quality of client work;
- Partner income;
- Firm size;
- Employee welfare;
- Community reputation.
To the extent you find wide variation, you might consider reevaluate your hiring practices.