I was reading a debate on the NBA playoffs where the commentators were wondering how an older team could beat the better players? And not just beat them, but crush them.

Very simply stated, the San Antonio Spurs played as a cohesive team, competing with the Miami Heat for the title; while the Miami Heat players competed against one another for the ball.

How often do we see this in the law firm environment?

Lawyers down the hall, or in other offices, competing against one another for work, then wondering why the smaller, less prestigious, or more expensive firm got the business?

How often are client “teams” built based on “protecting” an individual partner’s relationship (origination credit), rather than deepening the client’s relationship within the firm?

Working together as a team across a firm allows a law firm to pool the strengths of the individual attorneys, endure challenges, make it through rough patches, and regroup to try again and do a better job, based on the lessons learned, the next time a similar opportunity arises.

Competing against one another only pits rainmaker against rainmaker, practice against practice, and office against office.

While on paper the firm might be the better firm for the work, have the more experienced partners, and a wider variety of practices to provide better service, but gather them together and the group does not function as a team. In these “best player” firms, there is often a lack of communication, sharing of work, and, worst of all, a lack of trust.

I urge us all to learn the lesson from the older, not as fast or agile players of the San Antonio Spurs, and come together as a team at all times.

However, players alone did not win the 2014 NBA Championship. The strong leadership of Coach Popovich cannot be overlooked nor minimized. Without his leadership we might have another three-peat on our hands.

Without a strong leader, to whom all the players, or, in our place of business, all the “some partners are more equal than other” partners will answer and take direction, we will never achieve true success. We might make it to the final rounds, we might win some great matters, but we won’t have the longevity of a dynasty team … or firm.