Firm Culture

Time To Go

“There is a time for departure even when there’s no certain place to go.”

Tennessee Williams

On the day that the love of my life and I first told each other that we loved each other, we were, unfortunately, both married to other people. It was a pretty rough journey from then to now (together seventeen years, married for twelve.) Along the way a number of people were hurt, only a few of whom deserved it.  I love the result but would not wish the journey on anyone, and deeply regret the hurt caused to the innocent parties.

I had spent twenty-six years in my first marriage. It had been time for me to go for a long time, but I did not find the courage to go until I knew where I wanted to go.

On the other hand, I spent thirty-four years at my law firm and I did not get out until I retired. I should have left much earlier, even if I did not have a certain place to go. I should have found one.

There was nothing wrong with my law firm. It was better than most in many ways. There were, and still are, many great lawyers and excellent people at that firm. But I had ceased to fit in.  The culture was no longer right for me.

As a senior partner and then a managing partner, I had failed to protect the firm culture. I had made the usual mistake of looking past the faults of those who were financially productive but whose values were different from my own. Eventually my values were not those of the majority. Not necessarily better (except in my own mind) but different.

I fought the good fight to try to get the firm back on a course with which I was comfortable. I failed.  But still I hung on and continued to fight. I got sick doing it, but I soldiered on until the bitter end.

I should have gotten out much earlier.

Culture is everything. If you are at a firm or company where the culture does not align with your goals, make uncomfortable changes, if necessary, take the financial hit, if necessary, but be brave and move on.

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