Leadership and Management

Earlier this year, Vincent Cordo, the Global Sourcing Officer for Shell, and Casey Flaherty, a consultant to law departments, wrote an article for the ACC Docket, Shell Legal—Shadow Billing. Let me begin by disclosing that I have enormous respect for the work Vincent Cordo has done at Shell and that Casey is a friend whose work I also respect greatly.  However, respect and friendship do not translate into complete agreement on all issues, and this article presents an area where I disagree. I know Casey won’t be surprised.

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Pedantic is defined as “narrowly, stodgily, and often ostentatiously learned a pedantic insistence that we follow the rules exactly” and “unimaginative, dull.” You’ll see in a minute why I began with this definition.

I read an interesting article in today’s Chicago Tribune on the signs of greatness in companies.  One of the key signs is

You just can’t make this stuff up.  A recent ABA Journal article, Some law firm leaders question associate pay hikes amid tepid year, caught my eye. The Peer Monitor report stated:

Firms were squeezed by a perfect storm of slumping demand and rising headcount.

The ABA Journal article reports:

The economic forces have led

Pam Woldow and Doug Richardson penned a terrific post, Top 5 Bad Excuses for Resisting Legal Project ManagementI wanted to compliment them and share some thoughts on the 5 excuses.

1. My clients don’t want or need LPM. 

I had to laugh when I read this.  Most lawyers who talk about what their

The difference between a successful firm in the Old Normal Era and a successful firm in the New Normal era is huge.  How to get from one to the other?  Big changes.  So how to get to the New Normal?  Watch this video by Dan Heath who, with his brother Chip, authored Why Change is So Hard.  Punchline of the video?

And here’s why this matters for change: In almost all change situations, you’re substituting new, unfamiliar behaviors for old, comfortable ones, and that burns self-control. Let’s say I present a new morning routine to you that specifies how you’ll shower and brush your teeth. You’ll understand it and you might even agree with my process. But to pull it off, you’ll have to supervise yourself very carefully. Every fiber of your being will want to go back to the old way of doing things. Inevitably, you’ll slip. And if I were uncharitable, I’d see you going back to the old way and I’d say, You’re so lazy. Why can’t you just change?

This brings us back to the point I promised I’d make: That what looks like laziness is often exhaustion. Change wears people out—even well-intentioned people will simply run out of fuel.

What’s the point for law firms?  How hard is it going to be to rewire the DNA of law firms built on hourly billing?  Do firms think it is easy to start operating efficiently, cutting out the fat that has been fodder for increased billing for decades?  It is exhausting in the extreme, and people like Dan Heath might love to do case studies on law firms seeking to become Value Fee firms.  But the point for law firm leaders is that every change needs to be thought out carefully and new behaviors monitored with an eagle’s eye for prey.

 


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