Categories
Law Firm Management

Changing Law Firms for the Worse (Yet Again)

I was speaking to a recent retiree from a Canadian Big Law firm the other day, and she introduced a new law firm concept to me, being that of the “Practice Assistant.” Apparently at her firm they did away with the concept of Legal Assistants (formerly, a “secretary” for you very old folks) and replaced it with a Practice Assistant, or “PA.”

Categories
The Practice of Law

That Whooshing Noise

Let’s talk about deadlines. Here are two quotes to get us started:

From Douglas Adams, we give you the light-hearted Associate’s perspective: “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

Don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security, because the truth comes from Amit Kalantri, who said: “A professional who doesn’t deliver as committed is not just lazy, he is a liar.”

Categories
The Practice of Law

Consistently Chaotic

Early in my articles, a senior partner named David asked me to draft a document and gave me a precedent to use. David approved my draft but asked me to show it to Bob, a more junior partner. Bob told me that I had left out an important clause and asked me if David had approved my drafting. When I assured him that David had thought the draft was fine, Bob rolled his eyes and I understood that Bob did not hold David in high regard.

Categories
The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers

Greed

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.

Categories
Law Firm Management

Vacation Frustration

A junior Associate at a law firm  called me the other day to complain. There is nothing unusual about that. Associates complain a lot, often with good reason.

Her complaint this time was that she told H.R. that she needed to take a day off for a personal reason and was informed that she had only two choices. She could take the day as vacation or unpaid.

Categories
The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers

What Does Loyalty Have To Do With It?

“Leadership is a two-way street, loyalty up and loyalty down.”

Grace Murray Hopper

I thought that it might be fun to test my skills as a writer, by writing about two things that have virtually nothing to do with each other.  I considered writing about mosquitos and energy drinks, flags and ostriches, or trees and jet skis.  But I wanted to find things that are irreconcilable, regardless of any possible context. After much thought, I hit upon “loyalty” and “law firms.”

Categories
Law Students and Young Lawyers

Understanding Crazy

According to the fictional Professor Kingsfield in the movie “The Paper Chase,” law students “come in … (to law school) … with a skull full of mush and … leave thinking like a lawyer.”

I have often wondered whether I would have been better off keeping my mushy mind so that I could think like a normal person, but that is a question for another day.

Although law schools teach students to understand and apply legal principles, there is plenty of stuff that they never mention, including the importance of having a rudimentary understanding of psychology.

Categories
Firm Culture

Chasing Unicorns: Changing Law Firm Culture

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”  

        Peter Drucker

Back when I was a Managing Partner in a law firm, I did not think  nearly enough about law firm culture. I really should have, but not only because it is the secret to business success. No, I should have thought more about firm culture because it is a crucial factor in whether or not lawyers are happy in their jobs, and as we all know, many of them are not very happy.

Categories
The Mentality and Attitudes of Lawyers

Compelled Speech and the Last Bencher Election

I am retired. I did not have a vote in the last Law Society of Ontario (“LSO”) election, at which party politics showed up for the first time.

Although I did not have a horse in the race, I did follow the nastiness from afar. Various candidates were not satisfied with debating ideas. They found it necessary to vilify their opponents.

Categories
Mentoring

When Mentoring Disappears

Many new lawyers start their own practices soon after graduation or join firms that offer little mentoring or training.  I attribute this to a number of factors, including the law firm model falling into disfavour over issues of work/life balance and mental health, and prejudice encountered by internationally trained lawyers.