Definitely Mabey

No Thanks We Already Have One

Warning to all ostriches, this column deals with an issue that may disturb your natural pose.

Stephen Mabey Author

We know bullies are around all of the time but no one wants to talk about them, ironically, for fear of appearing weak or simply just wanting to suffer the embarrassment in silence.

Professional services firms in general, and law firms specifically, are not immune to workplace bullying; in fact they are more often than not an incubator for such behaviour. While uncovered incidents of harassment, abuse, and focused aggression are revealed in lawsuits and exposes on the corporate world, rarely has a similar light been shone on law firms.

Is it because it is more subtle and sophisticated in law firms given the level of knowledge of the law found there? I think not. Bullying in law firms is more open and transparent than the corporate universe. The explanation is a simple one — there are more “sacred cows” in professional services firms.

Sacred cows, of both genders, have achieved their status via a number of routes including client base; partner relationships; positions of authority; partnership agreements; and weak management. Clearly not all sacred cows are bullies. Nor in reality are all bullies sacred cows!

There have been studies done on this topic on both sides of the border, although none of note focused on professional services firms (remember the ostrich). One U.S. study found that 40 per cent of workplace bullies are women and they tend to pick on other women.

A Canadian study acknowledges that the level of stress and lost job satisfaction is higher in bullied employees then those who have been subjected to sexual harassment.

Bullying institutes have differing perspectives on the origin and treatment of bullying but seem to share two beliefs that:

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.




And remember, until next time:

"It never ceases to amaze how one person's divisive dysfunctional behaviour can permeate the entire organization like a cancer."

So remove the cancer and save your firm.

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

Legal Strategy Consultant