2016 will be an election studied for decades to come. Professors, politicians, pollsters, statisticians, the media, Main Street, and Wall Street will try and make sense of it all. How did everyone (except the LA Times poll) get it wrong? From Dan Schnur this morning, his tip for us all:
— Heather Morse (@heather_morse) November 9, 2016
I suggest we bring the lessons of #Election2016 back to the law firm: How often are we ignoring the voice of the client? The voice of the differing generations? The voice of the non-equity partners, or the rising associates? The working mothers (and fathers)? Not to mention the staff?
Rarely does a client fire a law firm. They just stop giving you new matters.
Take a look at your client originations. Are they stagnant? Have the new matters slowed down? When’s the last time you had lunch to see how your client is doing? What’s new in their world? Their industry?
Here’s a freebie for you. Go to lunch and be prepared to ask the following:
- How do you see the election results impacting you and/or your business?
- What are your peers within your industry saying?
- What are their concerns?
- Do you share them?
- What can I/my firm do to help you in 2017?
Now turn that mirror around and look inside your firm. Rarely do associates or disgruntled partners walk in and have a conversation in advance of giving notice.
Come January (or April 1, depending on the firm) law firms around the country will hear from their disgruntled associates and non-equity partners as they collect their bonuses and give notice, heading to a firm across the street, or setting up their own shop. And heaven help you should they go in house to a client upset and eventually rise to general counsel (I’ve seen it happen, and it’s not pretty).
Check out the hours reports. Who’s light? Have you had lunch with them recently? What’s going on? If an associate, why are partners not pushing down work? If a service partner, same thing. What about those who should be originating new business? How are they doing? Why are they not closing the deal? Do they need a coach or a mentor?
If nothing else, ask yourself: “What would happen if between now and the end of the year I took the earbuds out of my ears and started listening to someone else’s music?”