I hated partners meetings. Not because I did not like most of my partners. In fact, I quite enjoyed spending time with the majority of them. But there were always one or two…
After many years of contemplating why I disliked partners meetings so much, I developed a theory. Here it is.
Lawyers are the only professionals who go to school to learn to argue with each other. What type of people want to do that? Nice people? I don’t think so! Nice people become doctors, or nurses, or social workers, or physiotherapists, or whatever.
So, let’s say that you take a group of people of the type that want to go to school to learn to argue with other people. Then, put them in an extremely competitive environment like a law firm.
Next, distill the group down to its most successful members and call them Partners. Let each of them strive to mold the firm into their own image and campaign to win enough support to be able to get their own way. Be sure not to have any people who know too much about business or leadership in the group, because they may get in the way of the ambitions of some of the other Partners.
Structure your compensation system to reward each one of them on the basis of how much they contribute to the success of the firm compared to their partners, as judged by a committee of their peers. Let them argue among each other (or behind each other’s backs) about who contributes more and lobby the committee to see things their way.
The business promoters will tell you that what they do is more important than what the grinders do. The grinders, when they are done being offended at being described that way, will argue that there would be no point to the business developers bringing in business if there was no one to do the work. Everyone can lament that they would make more money if only everyone else worked harder.
Be sure to have your meetings after business hours when everyone is tired so that you do not lose too many billable hours. Don’t worry if the younger Partners have childcare responsibilities that will be dumped on their significant others. After all, they wanted to be Partners, and that is just how it works.
I hated partners meetings.