More and more law firms have decided it’s not their job to torture employees.
Something called the Legal Executive Institute last week published an article called “Making Your Law Firm a Great Place To Work,” in which we’re told that law firms being great places to work “is a trend that will only accelerate.”
Why is this a trend?
Is it really a trend?
I don’t have answers to those questions, but I do have another question: Why does the author of the article – someone who is described as the “founder and principal consultant” of LawyerBrain LLC – feels he needs to go on at length to persuade us that law firms should be great places to work?
Is there an argument against this? Why would you not want your firm to be a great place to work?
Are managing partners out there who happen to be surfing the Internet, come upon this Executive Institute page and say to themselves: “Why didn’t I think of that? And here all this time I thought having a lousy workplace was the best way to go …”
Two things need to be explored here: arguments in favor of terrible places to work and the methods for turning an office into a great place to work.
Let us begin with the pro-lousy position.
Naturally, an entrenched law firm partner should want his or her firm to be a miserable place. The primary reason is obvious: Happy associates will want to stay and become partners. The more partners you have, the more you have to divide profits.
So what firm leaders should do is recruit eager young new lawyers willing to work too many hours for their health in the vain hope that the effort will someday lead to a partnership. Pay them a competitive starting salary to lure them in.
Once you’ve squeezed as much as you can from the young blood for a few years, start being overly critical of their work, demand more hours, and make fun of their clothes. They’ll be eager to leave the firm as quickly as possible.
Then begin the process again with new blood.
You’ll never have to expand the firm name.
And if you make things miserable enough around the office, you may be able to drive out some of your old partners.
Just remember to be nice to the clients.
I should point out here too that there are advantages for non-bosses in miserable workplaces.
I’ve worked in several miserable places in my so-called career and I have fond memories of the camaraderie with my suffering co-workers. This can make for some great parties and nights out at bars.
It’s better than foxholes because no one is shooting at you – unless it’s a really bad place to work.
I treasure the time spent shooting videos mocking my employers. With the Internet and phone video cameras today, this is easier and more fulfilling than ever.
But if you insist on a happy place to work, I won’t argue with most of the suggestions in the Institute piece. I do think they require some supplemental notes.
For one thing, there is no mention of removing the primary cause of bad workplaces: lousy bosses.
You know what I’m talking about – the guys who scream at you for the mistakes they made, the guys who take the credit for your work, the guys who think they know everything but know nothing.
If you give everyone a vote on who gets to be the boss, or the amount of the boss’s salary, you’ll have a happy workplace.
An annual Dunk The Senior Partner carnival booth is a nice morale-booster too.