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Category Archives: Work/Life Balance

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Does Compensation Motivate?: The World According to Dan Pink

Posted in Client Service, Compensation, Leadership, Management, Productivity, Professional Development, Profitability, Retention, Risk Management, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
The most interesting question, in my opinion, that was asked of me and Peter Zeugheuser at last Thursday’s CCM audio conference on Origination Credit and Partner Compensation for the New Legal Landscape was not really within the purview of the topic.  It was "does compensation really work as an incentive?"   The topic–for a broadly diverse audience–was an overview of law… Continue Reading

Will Law Schools Help Build a Healthier Profession?

Posted in Culture, Law Education, Mentoring, Professional Development, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
According to a recent article in the ABA Journal, "Law schools need to do more than teach the legal basics–they also have a moral obligation to produce healthy and satisfied lawyers."  Specifically, Michael Serota, a recent law grad, suggests in his opinion column in the New York Law Journal that law schools "help students identify their… Continue Reading

Muir Discusses Leadership at WLA Conference

Posted in Business Development, Client Service, Coaching, Communication, Leadership, Productivity, Professional Development, Profitability, Work/Life Balance
Muir participated in a panel discussion last week at the Women Lawyers Alliance first Annual Conference, held in Chicago.  Muir and fellow panelists author Shaunti Feldhahn, eminent psychologist Dr. Florence Denmark and psychologist/coach Karen Kahn identified some of the challenges and facilities women have in making their mark as leaders in law firms, and also addressed specific questions on… Continue Reading

Muir’s “The Diversity Myth” Published

Posted in Announcements, Diversity, Management, Productivity, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
An article based on Muir’s blog entry "What do Women Want? Challenging the Diversity Myth" has been published in the ABA’s April 2010 webzine Law Practice Today. The issue focuses on effective diversity strategies in law practice management.  … Continue Reading

Georgetown Law School Center for the Study of the Legal Profession’s Conference — “Law Firm Evolution: Brave New World or Business as Usual?”

Posted in Assessments, Business Development, Client Service, Coaching, Communication, Compensation, Culture, Decision-Making, Diversity, Law Departments, Law Education, Leadership, Management, Productivity, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management, Succession, Teamwork, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
It was my great pleasure–something I don’t often say about a conference– to attend this invitation-only gathering last week, March 21-23, of both august and up-and-coming law industry professionals as they prognosticated the future of our practice and what that might in fact look like up close for a broad array of providers and clients.  While I will digest and relay over the… Continue Reading

What Do Women Want? Challenging The Diversity Myth

Posted in Books, Client Service, Leadership, Management, Pro Bono and Community Service, Productivity, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
  Monday, March 8, is International Women’s Day. So how are we doing? Bain and Company recently released results of a survey, reported in the Harvard Business Review, of 1,800 business people worldwide. Eighty percent believed that companies benefit from a gender diverse workforce; 75% reported having initiatives in their workplace to improve gender parity; but less than… Continue Reading

Sotomayor and Predicting Who Rises to the Top of the Lawyering Heap

Posted in Assessments, Diversity, Law Education, Leadership, Management, Productivity, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
The recent 5-4 Supreme Court ruling on the New Haven Fire Department vocational advancement exam in Ricci v. DeStefano once again stirs the waters on the question of how to choose the best from among a crowd. (See our entry "The Outliers of Law–Embracing Heresy".) The "best" in this case was determined to be simply the highest scorers, even if… Continue Reading

Who is the Best and Brightest?

Posted in Assessments, Leadership, Management, Professional Development, Retention, Risk Management, Wellness, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
The Grant Study is an extraordinary longitudinal study undertaken in the late 1930s to shed light on "the urgent question of how to live well."  As participants, a group of 268 (male) Harvard College sophomores, including John F. Kennedy and Ben Bradlee, were chosen for showing particular promise. An article interestingly entitled "What Makes Us Happy?" in the June 2009 issue of the Atlantic… Continue Reading

More Diversity for the Diverse

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Management, Mentoring, Professional Development, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
A 2008 ABA Journal survey, with reponses from more than 1400 women lawyers, produced some interesting results as to who they prefer to work with.  Of the 42% of women who expressed a preference in the gender of colleagues, that preference was different depending on the age of the respondent.  Female supervisors age 40 and over preferred… Continue Reading

High Performance Coaching for Low Performing Times

Posted in Business Development, Client Service, Communication, Compensation, Conflict, Culture, Decision-Making, Diversity, Emotional Intelligence, Ethics, Law Departments, Leadership, Management, Mentoring, Pro Bono and Community Service, Productivity, Professional Development, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management, Succession, Wellness, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
This is the time of year when many of us take stock of our direction and goals and make plans to step up our effectiveness.  This particular year, 2009, many lawyers are facing an extremely difficult once-in-a-century marketplace for which no one has been truly prepared.  So we may also find ourselves questioning our ability to successfully grapple with the challenges ahead.   How to acquire… Continue Reading

Working Toward Happiness

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Management, Mentoring, Pro Bono and Community Service, Productivity, Professional Development, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Work/Life Balance
Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, admits being surprised by the results of the research she conducted on how to permanently increase happiness, funded by a 5-year million-dollar grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.  She conducted a meta-analysis (a "study of studies"), along with Ed Diener and Laura King, two… Continue Reading

Blackberry Withdrawal

Posted in Culture, Management, Work/Life Balance
Linklaters is reported having decreed, in a fit of concern for work/life balance, that lawyers leave their Blackberrys at home while on holiday (vacation to us). The order is designed to insulate associates, in particular, from the relentless rat race for a few sweet weeks a year, according to management. “Sometimes it’s the small things… Continue Reading

Working with Introversion

Posted in Assessments, Business Development, Client Service, Coaching, Communication, Conflict, Culture, Law Departments, Law Education, Leadership, Mentoring, Professional Development, Risk Management, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
Lawyers are introverts, big time.  According to Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) results, almost 3/4th of lawyers, compared to only 1/4th of the general public, are introverts.  That means they go inward to charge their batteries– preferring internal introspection to external interaction.  On the Caliper Profile personality test, lawyers also rank astonishingly low in the sociability trait–which measures how comfortable a… Continue Reading

Coda: Happiness Hits the Bottom Line

Posted in Leadership, Management, Professional Development, Retention, Risk Management, Succession, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
In April, Shearman & Sterling’s entire Mannheim office packed up and reverted back to its original form, Schilling Zutt & Anschutz.  What prompted the schism? "There are some great lawyers at Shearman & Sterling," one former partner is reported to have said.  "I just don’t think they are particularly happy."… Continue Reading

The Pro Bono Angle

Posted in Business Development, Client Service, Culture, Diversity, Leadership, Management, Pro Bono and Community Service, Recruitment, Retention, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
At a time of some idling in the legal industry, a good use of lawyer time may be to spiff up the old pro bono program.  Davis Polk & Wardwell recently announced the addition of Ronnie Abrams, former Manhattan US Attorney’s Office prosecutor and daughter of renowned First Amendment litigator Floyd Abrams, as its first… Continue Reading

Testing for Law

Posted in Client Service, Coaching, Communication, Conflict, Culture, Emotional Intelligence, Law Departments, Leadership, Management, Mentoring, Productivity, Professional Development, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
The use of assessments worldwide is rapidly expanding and lawyers are still lagging at the back of the pack–way back.  An article by Lisa Belkin in yesterday’s New York Times notes that there are 2,500 "profiling instruments" that companies rely on more every year when deciding whom to hire or promote. Sixty-five percent of companies surveyed reported using… Continue Reading

Look Who’s Changing Now!

Posted in Compensation, Diversity, Management, Productivity, Professional Development, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
Lawyers have been making it into the big-time news lately.  That is, not just into the AmLaw publications, where spots about closely-argued decisions vie for those on the merger of the month, but onto the front page of  the New York Times SundayStyles section in early January  ("The Falling Down Professions") and more recently the front page of the… Continue Reading

Make Way for the Global Chief People Officer

Posted in Culture, Diversity, Leadership, Mentoring, Professional Development, Recruitment, Retention, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
In the era of the global law firm comes (wisely, in our view) the introduction of the position of Global Chief People Officer into law firm senior management .  Reed Smith announced last week that its creation of  the position underscores the increasing importance the firm places on running itself as a business. "You see more of this… Continue Reading

Lucky Is As Lucky Does: The Muscle Behind Happiness

Posted in Books, Coaching, Culture, Emotional Intelligence, Management, Mentoring, Professional Development, Retention, Risk Management, Work/Life Balance
A recent article in the New York Times on young 20-something Internet mega-millionaires quoted one as saying “You ask yourself, ‘Why am I not happier given how lucky I’ve been?’” While we as lawyers, being supremely circumspect, would rarely verbalize this sort of “squishy” sentiment out in the open, given the levels of unhappiness in… Continue Reading

Web Technology Makes Face Time Virtual

Posted in Client Service, Communication, Culture, Decision-Making, Leadership, Management, Productivity, Profitability, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
There is no substitute for face time, as people in my business are wont to insist. But maybe there is. During an interview with Mark Chandler, General Counsel of Cisco, to discuss the evolving legal marketplace, see Leaving Behind the Medieval Model, he demonstrated for me Cisco’s newest entry (competing with Hewlett-Packard, Polycom and Tandberg, among… Continue Reading

Article on “The Looming Associate Crisis”

Posted in Announcements, Assessments, Culture, Leadership, Management, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
Ronda Muir’s article "The Looming Associate Crisis" leads the July 2007 ALM Law Firm Partnership & Benefits Report, Volume 13, Number 6.    After reviewing statistics that show an ever-tightening supply, and potentially less qualified pool, of associates who are paid more yet leaving earlier than in years past, Muir recounts some of the tried (and perhaps less currently true)… Continue Reading

A Short History of the Billable Hour and the Consequences of Its Tyranny

Posted in Culture, Law Education, Management, Profitability, Recruitment, Retention, Risk Management, Work/Life Balance
Herewith a short but concise history of the twisted path that has led to billing by the legal hour, and the consequences of its tyranny. During the 1800s, US legal fees were capped "per service" by state law, and litigation fees were usually paid by the losing party.  Some lawyers were able to collect "bonuses" or charge retainers to circumvent the… Continue Reading

Coaching that Makes a Professional and Personal Difference

Posted in Assessments, Client Service, Communication, Conflict, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Management, Mentoring, Productivity, Professional Development, Wellness, Work Satisfaction, Work/Life Balance
Give yourself the advantages that insights from sophisticated behavioral science tools and informed collaboration can produce.  Out of ideas for how to motivate your team?  Can’t take another day with a difficult boss or colleague?  Strung out from too many committments and not enough time?  Looking for a meaningful way to both practice law and live your life?… Continue Reading