Law Firm Management

Huh, Really?

A short while ago I was contacted by a junior Associate who I will call Jennifer. Jennifer was looking to move to a well-established Vancouver law firm.

The interview with the senior partner went well and Jennifer received an offer which was more than acceptable. She was very excited about taking the next step in her career.

So why was Jennifer calling me?  She was in a quandary because the offer included a term which was so unusual that I will not describe it, just to avoid identifying the Associate or the firm.

So Jennifer called me to ask what I thought she should do. Her choices were to decline the offer (which she absolutely did not want to do), call the senior management person at the firm who had made the offer and try to talk that person into deleting the objectionable provision, or call the partner.

In the course of our discussion, Jennifer asked me who gets the final word in a law firm – the senior management person or a partner.

I asked a few questions:

  1. Senior partner?
  2. With big billings?
  3. And a large client base?

To the best of her knowledge, the answer to all three questions was “yes,” which gave me the confidence to tell her that Partner trumps management. (I am not saying that it should be that way. Just that it usually is.)

What was interesting to me at first blush was that the answer was so obvious to me, but not to this intelligent, but somewhat junior lawyer.  But then I thought back to how ignorant I was about business, life, and law firms when I started out. I was no more clued-in than Jennifer.

Jennifer spoke to the Partner. The unusual provision was deleted. Jennifer was happy that she got the job. The firm was happy that they got the candidate that they wanted.

Anyone who reads my musings somewhat regularly will know that I am a big fan of law firms having a professional management team with strong HR talent.

In a law firm, H.R. should stand for “Human Resources”, not, “Huh, Really?”


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