That is a hard question to ask clients who always have an opinion on how things should be done,  and a hard question to ask your more senior colleague who is working on project with you. They will typically say yes, but watch their body language. Unless you are a great team, they will be defensive about their idea.

I thought of this recently. I know two lawyers that for this blog I will call “Yin” and “Yang.” (Check the active link to understand why I chose those names.)

Yin is a young, top notch equity partner I coached two years ago when he was an income partner. Yang is a young, income partner. I am coaching her now. They are working on an extremely complex project for a very demanding client who expects things to be turned around immediately, over night and over weekends. They are a great team for this project.

Why are they a great team? Here are my thoughts:

  • Having worked with both of them, I know they are both highly motivated and driven to do the best work possible.
  • Like Yin and Yang, they have different strengths that compliment each other.
  • Their focus is on helping the client succeed with the project.
  • They are both working really hard, but also finding ways to relax and recharge their batteries.
  • They are not trying to hog credit for ideas.
  • Most importantly, during their work on the challenging project they have developed a lot of respect for each other and are open to hearing each other’s ideas without becoming defensive about their ideas.

I know from experience it is not easy building a great team. It is not easy to be a senior lawyer and realize the younger lawyer working for you has a better idea. In my own practice, as soon as I was able to overcome needing to be “always right,” the quality of work of the team I built around me increased dramatically.