A July 14 post on Chicago Law announced that Joe Collins had resigned from Mayer Brown following his recent conviction in the Refco fraud debacle. That was hardly newsworthy: Collins had been on leave since 2007.
Here’s the quote that caught my attention: "The story also says few other lawyers at Mayer Brown knew much about Collins’ practice because of the firm’s eat-what-you-kill compensation system."
Think about that. A client hires a giant international law firm, and it gets the brainpower of one guy. But the real secret is how common that outcome is when the firms employ an "eat-what-you-kill compensation system." After all, why should any of Collins’ fellow senior partners spent their time on his matters when doing so benefited him at their own expense. While there are exceptions to every rule, the inescapable fact is that money creates incentives for certain behaviors, and in an eat-what-you-kill system, collaboration is not a behavior that encouraged. So it doesn’t happen.
If you’re a client, think about whether you are better off if the senior, experienced people in a firm work collaboratively for your benefit. To me, it’s a no-brainer.
It’s enough of a no-brainer, that when we created Valorem, the partners agreed that we would be compensated equally. We rise and we fall together. We did that because we have our skin in the game with our clients. This system creates financial benefits from collaboration–for each of us. And we never have to wonder whether a partner is doing something for his or her own benefit.