Why is succession in law firms so difficult? If you have 45 minutes, watch this Simon Sinek presentation: Why Leaders Eat Last. You can see it below, or in the link here.

If you only have 45 seconds, watch from 3:40 to 4:25.  I will paraphrase a point made in those 45 seconds

In the military they give medals to people who are willing to sacrifice themselves so that others may gain. In law firms we compensate and give bonuses to lawyers who are willing to sacrifice others (and hog credit) so that they main gain.

Do you have one more minute? If so, go to 16:40 to 17:45. There Sinek talks about the zone of safety. Danger from competitors is constant. They want to steal your clients. But, is there danger inside your firm? I will paraphrase again.

If you have to worry about firm politics, if you have to worry about someone stealing your credit, if you have to worry about the senior lawyer for whom you work not having your back, think about the energy you are expending, not in helping clients, not in learning to become a better lawyer, not in your creativity, but just in trying to keep yourself safe.

What is the responsibility of leaders?

  1. To determine who gets in. What are your values, your beliefs? Does the lawyer you are recruiting share them?
  2. To determine how big is the circle of safety in your firm. Is it the inner circle of the law firm the management committee, or does it include the most junior lawyer in your firm?