Is your law firm a  Fortune Best Place to Work in America Law Firm, or are your associates just  “getting their hours?”

What difference do you think that might make to your business clients (Bet many of them read Fortune), your lawyers and staff (Bet many of them are proud…or not of their firm) and recruits (Bet many want to work for a Best Place in America Law Firm)?

Sadly, I don’t think my old firm ever made the Best Place to Work in America list. I found out one reason years ago when I was scheduled to give a lunch presentation on career planning to my law firm’s Los Angeles associates.

I saw no reason to make the presentation mandatory, especially since we were serving a “free lunch.” On the Monday before I was to speak on Friday, only six associates had signed up. I called our Los Angeles Office Administrator who told me so few had signed up because the others wanted to “get their hours.”

Wow, I was taken by surprise. I never once thought as an associate that I needed or wanted to get my hours. I think like many associates today, I would have hated practicing law if my most important goal was “getting hours.”

Incredibly, several relatively large law firms are rated within the top 100 best places to work each year.  In the 2014 Fortune Magazine list of 100 best places to work there are 6 law firms. Baker Donelson is number 31, Alston & Bird is number 40, Perkins Coie is number 41, Bingham McCutchen is number 60, Arnold & Porter is number 81, and Cooley is number 100. What do you suppose sets these firms apart from the rest?

I don’t know about you, but I would like to practice law at a Best Place to Work in America firm. As a parent, I would like for a son or daughter to practice law there. If I was a business, I would want one of those firms to be my outside law firm.