The legal industry’s current strategy for hiring and keeping lawyers seems to be to throw more and more money at them, a strategy which has succeeded to date in producing unprecedented attrition and dissatisfaction rates.

Major law firms around the country just upped the ante for hiring a baby lawyer to $160,000 @ year, before bonuses, or roughly what seasoned federal

One difference in Dewey and Orrick, and perhaps the biggest one, that may lie behind their inability to get in bed together is their management structures. Adhering to the old school, white-shoe model, Dewey management is accomplished by a rotating "good lawyer" who is engaged primarily in what (s)he wants to do and, one might argue, does best—lawyering. According to a January 22, 2007 Wall Street Journal article, Dewey Managing Partner Morton Pierce spent 3,300 hours last year on billable client work, or an average of 12.6 hours every weekday, raising the obvious question of how much time, if any, he spent on management. "Management is not my passion," Pierce admitted. 

Orrick, on the other hand, is managed by Ralph Baxter, Jr., who hasn’t practiced law since 1992, and who spends his annual 3,300 hours-plus on firm-wide town-hall meetings, informational web casts, and on-site and in-person office and partner meetings, exhibiting what David Wilkins, director of Harvard Law School’s Program on the Legal Profession, calls "the epitome of 21st century law-firm leadership." 

While those in academia may have easily come to that conclusion, in the industry trenches what constitutes the best firm leadership is still very much open to debate. There are plenty of issues raised by the 3-5 year rotating model vs. the long-term model, including the impact on long-term vision and strategy and succession planning, that we won’t go into here. But the even narrower discussion about whether firms should have full-time or part-time managers, regardless of their length of tenure, can start to sound positively moral, with both sides claiming rectitude. 

The word that crops up is "professional." One of the Dewey partners supports the part-time manager concept because someone "who practices is more tuned into the professional philosophy." And if that’s not clear, Cravath’s managing partner, Evan Chesler, also a part-timer, points out that "the law is a profession—not merely a business." (Note the "merely.") 

Of course, managing partners who enjoy only short terms would be foolish to give up their clients and cutting edge expertise for what might be a short round in management hell. Their “professionalism” is another word for survival. On the other hand, they are right that lawyers respect no one as much as another lawyer: what managers lack in management skills they may be able to make up for with sheer lawyer-to-lawyer hubris: my book beats your book.


Continue Reading Talking to the Troops

The 100 Best Employers

From over 400 organizations surveyed, five law firms, down one from last year and with most of the survivors heading down the list, made Fortune magazine’s 2007 list of the best 100 employers to work for: Alston & Bird, Arnold & Porter, Nixon Peabody, Perkins Coie and Bingham McCutchen,

In a study conducted last fall of managing partners, general counsel, and other legal leaders, Altman Weil identified five key market trends and critical concerns.  It noted that people management was one of the highest priorities on everyone’s list, with one partner saying that he goes to sleep "never knowing who might be leaving tomorrow."  The

Accounting firms have long been ahead of law firms in innovative management strategies for personal service firms– and as law firms head toward numbering thousands instead of hundreds of lawyers, there is much we can learn from how accounting firms manage people.

At a two-day ARK Group conference in December on Women in Professional Service Firms

Between 1986 and 2005, the number of lawyers employed by the nation’s 100 largest law firms nearly tripled, from roughly 25,000 to more than 70,000, and the most recent report is that the Am Law 100 gained 4% in numbers of lawyers this past year. During this time the number of top students at top law

While Emotional Intelligence has become a popular buzzword, the researchers on whose work Daniel Goleman based his bestselling Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, only formulated an assessment to test EI in 2002. Called the MSCEIT (Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test), it is the only EI assessment based on abilities instead of self-reports, i.e.

In a December 13, 2006 Legal Times article extolling the energy and talents of Pamela Rothenberg, the managing partner of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice’s Washington D.C. office, Rothenberg stressed how much she relies on The Gallup Organization strengths, an assessment that is described in the book First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s

Women have suddenly become scarce among the Supreme Court Justices’ clerks, the New York Times reported August 30, 2006. While 50% of law school graduates in 2005 were women, only 7 of the 37 Supreme Court law clerkships are women, the first time since 1994 that the number has been in the single digits. Justices Breyer, Ginsburg