Definitely Mabey

The lost art of being an owner

Much has been written about the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of partnership as a business structure. Like most things there is a grain or two of truth in what is being said but the bottom line is there are more 50-plus-year-old law firms than companies.

Stephen Mabey Author

In recent years, law firms have flown in the face of this fact and have been driving (or perhaps more accurately been driven) towards embracing a corporate model. So there are no misunderstandings, I am a strong proponent for firms making "business-like" decisions but I see that as being significantly different than attempting to run a law firm as a corporation.

Dr. Larry Richard, a director at Hildebrandt Baker Robbins, has written extensively about lawyer personalities and the differences between the general public and lawyers' personality traits. I would draw the following two extracts from his research to your attention:

~ Skepticism: Lawyers have a 90-per-cent score for this trait, where as the general public scores only 50 per cent. "It's a very useful trait to have — questioning data, people and information. These are people who will say 'Oh yeah? Prove it.'" That's what people hire lawyers for. We're all born to be trusting and we learn to be skeptical.

~ Autonomy: Lawyers have an 89-per-cent score for this trait, while the general public scores only 50 per cent. A person with this trait says, "I don't want anyone giving me orders or telling me what to do." When you try to influence the behaviour of lawyers, there will be a natural reaction against that. The best way to overcome "autonomy resistance" is to let the lawyer have input into what they're going to do. Let them shape their own destiny. Participation leads to commitment.

Wikipedia provides a couple of very relevant insights into “corporate governance”:

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.



On the one-year anniversary of this column I would be remiss if I did not thank those folks who help to inspire each month's column. Until next month, remember:

"character is doing the right thing when nobody is looking."

Comments or Questions?

First Published in Canadian Lawyer March 2011. Copyright © Applied Strategies Inc.

Legal Strategy Consultant