Airstream Saga — Challenges before we hit the road

Implode. DissolveTerminate. Liquidate. Failure.  All, strong words. They can describe what happens to a law firm or a vacation dream if effective communication is missing.

Lesson re-enforced: The firm
Unless there is continuous open and candid communication among equity partners, and acceptance and buy-in for the path (business plan) chosen by the firm, sooner or later there will be a dissolution of the firm. The form of the dissolution is irrelevant, whether by withdrawal of individual partners or wholesale departure and formal liquidation. The end result will be the same: The original dream of harmonious and collegial growth of the firm will come to an end.

This communication process is a continuous requirement to ensure that individual agendas continue to be attuned with one another. In divorce practice, lawyers frequently hear the complaint that “we grew apart.” This results from the failure to keep communications open and candid as time passes. Law firms, small and large, are subject to the same need to keep the communication process open, candid and frequent.

Partners need to be clear with one another about the overall goals as well as specific objectives and strategies of the  practice. And, if you aren’t having fun, stop, think and modify your course.

Lesson re-enforced: The Airstream:
Last night, my wife awoke and said to me, “You haven’t read the owner’s manual. You promised me you would.” After some strained conversation, it became clear that our challenge to start a new chapter in our lives (her fantasy) had hit a bump in the road.

Yes, I had said I would read the owner’s manual. Because the trailer had only 3 owners since 1969, the owner’s manual was still intact, though fragile. Yes, I had not done so – because she had and because my focus was still on my primary activity, my business. In my defense, I had said from the very beginning that 2007 was the year I intended to focus on this project; since she advanced the time frame, I was attempting to join the team, but still had other obligations and needs to deal with first. Nevertheless, her angst got the best of her last night.  

She finally said that she is afraid that we will have an accident when we take the trailer if I don’t read the owner’s manual and learn all that is set forth there. Our belief systems are different. And how we reconcile those two systems will determine whether we actually get on the road again.

We hooked up the trailer once, successfully. Thus, I believe we can do it again. We drove on the public road. While it is true, I did sideswipe a shopping cart with the trailer and drove over a curb, there was nothing more negative than that that happened to us. And I’ve seen very experienced truck drivers do that and worse. We just need to get on the road and have some fun. That’s my perspective.

My wife wants to make sure that we never have any accident; this is “not on my watch” mentality. When taking care of our grandchildren, I can understand that mentality, though I am a bit “free and loose” there as well, believing that because I raised two children without mishap, I can take care of several grandchildren for a few hours or a few days without mishap as well. Of course, in fairness, I do have the watchful eye of my wife right there with me.

(I’ve always said that my wife would have made a great law school professor because she is able to envision the worst of cases, the “parade of horribles;” when she does, however, her fear rises. This also, by the way, enables her to plan alternative strategies to avoid the horrible. As my wife says, in another context, “There is a price to pay for everything.” In this case, her worry is the interest she pays on a problem that never occurs, or a loan she never takes out.)

Stay tuned.


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