My old law firm held a retreat one year. The theme was “one-firm.” We even had tee shirts with the slogan on the back and firm name on the front. There was only one slight problem-The tee shirts told a lie. Our firm was a bunch of very talented lawyers operating independently from one another.

I was always fond of saying just suppose as a way of prompting thought of what we could become as attorneys, individuals and in terms of firm development. Here is the just suppose I thought we could become in my old law firm that would make it more like the slogan on the tee shirts.

Just suppose, your law firm’s purpose was: 

To enable our clients to achieve their business objectives and to provide maximum opportunities for our lawyers and staff to achieve their career dreams and goals.

Just suppose your standards (core values) included:

  • Our firm put clients and the firm ahead of our own personal interests.
  • Each lawyer is expected to invest a minimum of 2500 hours in billable and non-billable (investment) activities unless he or she is a part of the firm’s flex-time policy.
  • We will recruit lawyers and staff who have a burning desire to be the best they can be and we will invest in, energize and inspire them and provide them with the tools to be successful.
  • We will seek clients who have interesting work, significant needs for outside legal services and who can afford to pay for the services of our firm.
  • We will provide extraordinary service to our clients, working together as a team and supporting each other whenever possible.
  • We will seek to be the most innovative law firm to more effectively serve our clients.
  • Finally, if we are able to accomplish the above, in doing so we will build economic stability and profitability.

Just suppose your firm made decisions and judged conduct and performance on the basis of the purpose and standards/core values. In other words, just suppose these were not just hollow words and your lawyers and staff walked the walk each and every day and when it came time to make decisions on compensation, bonuses, and promotion.

I believe the key to success in any organization is to have a clearly stated purpose and set of core values and expectations that then become the basis for decisions and actions.

I read some time ago:

When clarity exists, everyone knows the guiding principles and the core competencies that most directly contribute to organizational and individual vitality and success.

You could build a strong firm around the concepts, have a heck of a lot of fun working together and build a sense of community that I feel is lacking in many firms now.