The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers


Whoever Dies With The Most Stuff Wins

–David Mitchell

The other day someone asked me why so many lawyers work excessive hours on the road to mental and physical health issues, divorce, and addiction.

The answer is simple. It is greed.

Law Students and Young Lawyers

Show Me the Money

“Youth is always impatient, even though, ironically, youth alone has time for patience.”

Lucilla Andrews

In my new pastime as a cynical commentator on aspects of the legal profession which I whole-heartedly embraced and profited from for many years, I speak to quite a few folks at the early stages of their careers. I try to think back to when I shared their enthusiasm and optimism, but frankly it was way too long ago.

Firm Culture

How Strong Are Your Roots?

The image that accompanies this post is of a massive tree in the forest behind my house which came down in a storm, bringing down another tree, which brought down a third. As you can see, the root system was wide, but shallow.

These trees might have looked majestic, but when force was applied, their roots proved to be too weak to hold up their weight.

Firm Culture

A Sweeter World?

I was speaking to a university student the other day who I will call Lara.  Lara told me that she occasionally has a super nice dinner at her friend Kim’s expense.

It seems that sometimes Kim meets a Sugar Daddy who treats her to a nice meal at a fine restaurant. Kim is just a little bit nervous about meeting strange men for dinner, so she has Lara come to the restaurant, sit at a nearby table, and keep an eye on her.

Firm Culture

How Quickly My Good Idea Becomes Your Great Idea

Now and then I will tell a story about something that I did back in the day when my wife Maureen and I practiced at the same law firm. Typically my story involves a brilliant legal strategy that I developed, a big win, and a grateful client.

Occasionally Maureen will observe, “how quickly my good idea becomes your great idea.” Her point, I guess, is that she was the brilliant one and I just took her idea and ran with it. It could have happened that way. It was a long time ago and it really is not in my interest to remember the details that clearly.

Firm Culture

Is Someone Out to Get You?

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”

      Joseph Heller

In some law firms there are politics among the Partners. Someone wants to be the managing partner or to win the compensation committee contest, and they need to win friends and influence people to get what they want.

I know, I know. You cannot believe it. This may be true in other firms, but certainly not in your firm.

In your firm, all of the Partners respect each other and support each other. They never talk behind each other’s back. They are hard on the issues and soft on the people. They certainly do not form cliques, count votes, or solicit support between meetings to win votes at the Compensation Committee or the Executive Committee.

Firm Culture

A New Year’s Resolution For Grape Popsicles

I like orange popsicles. The cherry flavoured ones are also okay. The grape flavour is terrible. This is one of the few topics upon which everyone in my household agrees.

It is really hard to find a box of only orange popsicles. Trust me, I have looked. So, we always end up buying a box which contains all three flavours. Eventually our freezer becomes full of grape popsicles that nobody wants and we throw them away to make room. It is a waste of money and not that great for the environment.

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.

Firm Culture

Building a Team of Partners and Losers

We live in a hierarchical world. In a law firm, the levels are pretty clear. From top to bottom it goes something like this: Managing Partner, Other Partners (ranked in order of billings and client originating credits), Senior Associates, Professional Managers, Junior Associates, Law Clerks, Legal Assistants, Clerical Staff, Articling Students, and Cleaners.

Everyone in a law firm has a pretty good notion about what the hierarchy is, although Articling Students have sometimes found out to their shock and horror that they do in fact rank under the Law Clerks, Legal Assistants, and Clerical Staff.

Law Firm Management

Selling Out For the Price of a Postage Stamp

Just about everything that I learned about stupidity in the realm of managing people, I learned from lawyers, much of it from my own mistakes. However, this time I will write about the failures at my friend Martin’s law firm instead.

At Martin’s firm, the Human Resources Manager convinced the Partners that it would be a good idea to initiate a program to recognize long-serving firm members, with the view of spreading the word to all members of the team that the firm valued loyalty.