Why are so many successful lawyers silos in their law firms? Does it matter?

Have you heard the phrase: In MBA programs students are taught to collaborate. In law schools, students are taught to compete?

If you are a regular reader, you have likely seen that phrase in previous blog posts. I thought about it again when I recently read a Kevin Roberts blog: Genius Isn’t Enough, Execution Is Everything. Kevin was reviewing the new Walter Isaacson book: The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.

I specifically liked this Isaacson thought:

I think sometimes we underestimate … or sometimes we don’t fully appreciate the importance of collaborative creativity. So my book is not a theoretical book, but it’s just a history of the collaborations and teamwork that led to the computer, the Internet, the transistor, the microchip, Wikipedia, Google and other innovations.

Years ago, I suggested to my law firm’s executive committee that it put together a group of the most successful lawyers in our firm to meet either monthly or quarterly to creatively brainstorm ideas that could help us become more valuable to our clients. Here are some of the ideas I had at the time:

  • Client Service: How can we better serve our clients?
  • Motivation: What can we do to provide an environment that encourages our younger lawyers and staff to excel?
  • Visibility: What can we do to raise our visibility in the industries and cities we serve?
  • Attorney Development: How can we create the premier attorney development program recognized by our clients, our lawyers and potential recruits?
  • Collaboration: What is it? Why does it matter? What can we do to encourage it and reward it?
  • The Internet: How can we use it more effectively than other law firms to help our clients?

I had many more ideas for topics, but hopefully these will get you thinking.

So, I guess my question is are lawyers in your firm creating silos or collaborating with each other in creative ways?