The worst partners meeting that I ever attended ended with me storming out, telling one of my partners to fuddle-duddle off (not in those exact words), and threatening to leave the firm. I was the managing partner and highest earning partner at the time. You would think that I should have been happy.
When I was a teenager, my buddy Bill took me waterskiing. For those of you who do not water ski, you learn to ski on two skis which is easy, then to ‘drop a ski’ which is harder, and finally to start on one ski. That was what I was trying to do.
Bill said that I was the only person who he ever saw who was still holding onto the rope ten feet under water. An exaggeration perhaps, but sometimes I really do not know when to give up.
You may be familiar with the expression, “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast,” a quote from Peter Drucker. As the title of this post implies, I not only agree with that sentiment, but I believe that it is drastically understated.
Back in the day, the practice of law was considered to be a profession first, and a business second. Over the years, there was a great deal of talk about how lawyers had to recognize that the practice of law was also a business, and to become more business-like in their approach. I expect that this had a lot to do with some combination of law firms becoming less profitable and law partners, like many in the corporate sector, becoming greedier.
(A Cautionary Tale For Lawyers of All Ages)
Back quite a while ago somewhere in Ontario, a fellow who I will call Sam started a law firm, which he quickly grew to be a decent firm of about 20 lawyers.
Sam was a fairly progressive guy for his time, in a number of ways.
One of Sam’s philosophies was that it takes all types of personalities to build a successful law firm. When other partners would complain that some partners brought in more clients or produced more billable hours than other partners, Sam would say “we need to have diverse personalities and skills to build a strong firm. We can adjust for differences in productivity in compensation.”