Definitely Mabey

Getting a Seat at the Table

I fear that the perceived need for a seat at the law firm’s management table has become so all consuming that its true meaning has been lost to many of its pursuers.

Stephen Mabey Author

It has seemed to become the proverbial destination rather than another milestone in a rich and rewarding career. Its achievement often results in a less-than-anticipated sense of fulfilment.

I recognize that it is easy to be casual about a seat at the table when you are seen to have one.

Instead of waxing on the challenges and tribulations of being at the table — because it really frequently becomes the definition of “be careful of what you wish for” — this column addresses conduct that you might follow to be asked to take a seat at the table (trusted adviser) versus pursuing one (contender).

As always, I start with the caveat that none of the points you will read are rocket science, otherwise someone else would be writing this column, but rather they are just plain common sense.

The foregoing disclaimer is the perfect segue into the first point I would make: never let your intelligence overtake your common sense. Clients pay for judgment whether they are internal or external, so use it.

All firms are filled with very bright individuals and while smarts are admired, hard work is the real shrine at which most firms worship. Be a doer as well as a thinker and get your hands dirty — pick up the piece of paper on the lobby floor rather than pointing it out to a staff member to handle. It won’t go unnoticed by clients, staff, and lawyers alike.

While many don’t see the practice of law as a team sport, there is more to be gained by playing to your colleagues’ strength than their weaknesses. Others’ success will beget your success.

The rest of this article is available in Stephen Mabey's new Book

Book Cover - Leading and Managing a Sustainable Law Firm - Tactics & Strategies for a Rapidly Changing Profession by Stephen Mabey

Available for purchase on BookBaby.



Until next month remember the old proverb:

"No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back.”

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First Published in Canadian Lawyer October 2010. Copyright © Applied Strategies Inc.

Legal Strategy Consultant