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How to Maximize the Talents in Your Law Firm

The paring down of lawyers, paralegals, and staff has been an end result of the predominant model law firm practice.  Most law firms prefer to ensure that employees are in their chairs between certain hours than to inspire those workers to fulfill their potential.  Law firms prefer the certainty of uninspired, low-level, non-creative work.  Risk are low.  Simply calculate the number of billable hours per year times the number of lawyers times the hourly rate.  Boom!

What we really need to ask ourselves is what do we expect of our employees, partners, and independent contractors.  Is it more important that they’re in their chair from 9 to 5 or what they do in that chair however long they’re sitting there?  Are they coming in to work to collect their bi-weekly paycheck or because they are inspired by the work that they do, the contributions they make, and the environment in which they work? 

Our firm doesn’t have many formal policies.  There is no set time by which you have to be in in the morning or a time in which you need to stay in your chair at the end of the day.  There’s no artificial limits on vacations or sick time.  People bring their dogs and their kids to work as life’s necessities require.  Bonuses are paid as money becomes available and is earned based on merit.  There is no cap on how much can be earned by any worker at the firm.  There is no top.  There is no bottom. 

We focus only on what’s important, including the metrics of quality, innovation, self-motivation, creativity, and human relations.  The funny thing is, our workers tend to work harder, are more inspired, and are genuinely happier than you’ll find in most any other place.  The firm gives all of us tremendous opportunities to succeed.  We all feel inspired to give back.  Instead of catering to the lowest common denominator, we aspire to attain the fullest human potential. 

How does your firm run differently than the rest?  What’s working to bring out the best in your workforce?  Let me know.  I’m interested in hearing from you.

Comments

Ed Goldner

I could easily live with that type of management. But, how would you figure the individual reward for attys and staff. Some will work like crazy. Some will try to live off of the others' work.

GAL

Ed:

You can't simply plug in hours into a formula and spit it out, that’s for sure. You have to get in, roll your sleeves up and do some dirty work. If you have to figure out what is "value to the firm" and then you have to have discussions with top level partners about who provided those metrics. The beautiful thing is that discussing the concepts of "value to the firm" and extending it beyond the number of hours worked, allows you to drive things such as efficiency, client relations, marketing, client retention, blogging, administration and a host of other things that still need to get done. We actually have our discussions in a group setting so that we are reinforcing, exploring and ensuring that we are driving the various aspects of our firm which we believe lead to success.

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