"...A stringent "how much do I really love that" filter

Ernie the Attorney (Ernie Svenson) and The Adventure of Strategy (Robert Millard) both came at the same issue today but in entirely different ways.  Unbeknownst to each other, they posted on a common theme:  lawyers leaving their law firms.

Ernie referred to Denise Howell of the Bag and Baggage blog:  "So, now Denise is taking a new career path and I am really happy for her; she is going to be going in a more fulfilling direction…
I love this passage":

"my professional roadmap henceforth will involve only things that are washed through a stringent "how much do I really love that?" filter"

Ernie went on: "I think more people are starting to discover that filter."

Greenberg Traurig's Cesar Alvarez, quoted in Robert's post said:"One of the keys to preventing lateral defections is to keep attorneys from feeling isolated."

The two bloggers seem to emphasize different perspectives on why the issue of lawyers leaving their law firms is so important:

Ernie's:  "We don't' really have time to do things that aren't supremely meaningful and enjoyable to us.  We barely have time for the things that matter most, and time is running out."

Robert's:  "Key to any strategy is to have the right people in place to be able to execute the strategy. If firms are bleeding top (partner) talent at such a rate, then this is something worth addressing."

My Opinion:   Ernie and Robert are both absolutely correct and that's why I brought their complementary posts together.  A firm cannot prosper without keeping its best people and the best people will always have choices which they will exercise based on their drive for self actualization.  The Managing Partners who understand this and manage accordingly will be judged as our profession's greatest heroes.

Links to Referenced Posts:
Ernie the Attorney: "The Love Filter - Denise Howell departs big firm"
The Adventure of Strategy: So-Long and Thanks for the Fish
Bag and Baggage: Have Aeron, Will Travel
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RJON@HowToMakeItRain.com - July 20, 2006 4:30 PM


I want to pick-up where you left-off in your post. You stated that:

"A firm cannot prosper without keeping its best people and the best people will always have choices which they will exercise based on their drive for self actualization. The Managing Partners who understand this and manage accordingly will be judged as our profession's greatest heroes"

I couldn't agree more & have the follwing two cents to throw-in. . .

As anyone who has poked his or head out the window of their ivory tower lately can tell you, the pace of change in the world today is accelerating. And increasingly, the pace of these changes is going to have a huge impact on how law firms must treat their most valuable assets (people) if they hope to remain profitable. Flex time, part-time, telecommuting, and even some presently out of the box approaches to help parents (fathers AND mothers) balance work & life is increasingly becoming a smart competitive advantage for businesses in every industry, including law firms.

AN EDUCATED GUESS -Or at least what often happens in law firms that don't realize how much & how fast the world around them is changing. . . Obviously we do not know all sides of the story why Ms. Howell's former firm decided to terminate its relationship with an experienced & presumably profitable attorney.

But I can make an educated guess (about lawyers & law firms in general not Ms. Howell herself or her former firm specifically, and so can you:

Consider that for the first time in human history we now have four different generations all going at it elbow-to-elbow in the workplace. Now think about the different values, perceptions, priorities & even different definitional understandings of several common words & phrases that exist between Gen Y, Gen X, Baby Boomers & so-called Matures, and it becomes clear that many of the law firm management (and marketing) strategies that served the owners of law firms well in the past, are going to start failing with increasing regularity & severity of consequence.

Now pile on top of those ideas the biological fact that as we age, it becomes harder, not easier to work a 60 hour week, commute two hours in traffic, etc.

And finally, sprinkle some economic reality...There are only three ways for a lawyer in a large firm to make him or herself more valuable to the firm and secure their job (yes, partners get fired too):

1. Sell more of your own hours.
2. Sell your own hours for more money
3. Learn How To Make It Rain & start selling the hours of others who can then wrestle with the first & second parts of this economic reality

Apologies to all the managing partners and Associates too, for bringing this to your collective attention: Consider the case of a 65-year old managing partner of a law firm who thinks he (sorry but statistically most of them are still he's) is going to motivate a 30-something attorney (male or female) to work long hours and make personal sacrifices "for the firm" in the hopes of someday acheieving equity partner status. Now ask some 30-something lawyers (or anyone else) you know if they really expect to be at the same job 5 years from now.

Fact of the matter is that Ms. Howell is certainly one of the more visible attorneys to get caught in the changes afoot, but she isn't the only one & won't be the last.


Helping Lawyers In Small Firms Make ALOT More Money

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