Tag Archive: culture

Orrick Pillsbury: A new firm on the horizon.

Should the merger take place between Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and Pillbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, there will be a reordering of the top U.S. law firms. The BCS rankings reorder every week after the Saturday college football results are known. So, too, do the BigLaw rankings change every time there is a major merger.

Will this merger succeed where others have failed? Quite possibly. The positives are that both are West Coast based. That means their cultures are more closely aligned than if they had routes on opposite parts of the country. And, I suspect that the top management of both firms, each of which are very capable, understand that integration of the two firms is essential to their success … and thus more likely to pay attention to this process. And, from a marketing perspective, the new firm will have a dominant position in Silicon Valley, a major source of future revenue.

But there are still risks. Power struggles and cultural clashes are not unknown for combining large organizations. Aligning their compensation systems, always a key element, may or may not present a hurdle. Even if they succeed, there are likely to be some break-offs or departures of significance. Despite “advanced merger talks,” the deal is not done until done … Much can happen between now and then.

View page

Bullying or Cooperation – Which is more profitable?

Bullies cost you money! Addressing this topic is not a "soft skill" but one that goes right to the "bottom line." Tolerate bullying in the workplace and you will experience lost time, lost ncentive and lost resources when skilled staff take time off from work, lose motivation or suffer stress burnout and leave the job for another. The cost to business is in the billions of dollars annually.

The converse is true. Creating a culture of collegiality, cooperation and teamwork creates enhanced performance, greater successes and even higher profits.

Bullying, by definition, is unwelcome behavior including unwarranted or invalid criticism, exclusion and isolation, being singled out and treated differently, and being humiliated in front of others. One study shows that younger women suffer bullying at the hands of older women … but this phenomenon is not limited to women … and sexual harrassment is only one aspect …

Male clients find often find that how they respond to the bullying tactics of their male superiors is a critical feature of whether they succeed in the law firm and whether they make partner or are asked to leave.  Irrespective of how they deal with bullying tactics such as imposition of unreal time deadlines and nitpicking of their draft documents, the psychological toll on the lawyer is humongous … including stress in their home life.

In one such experience, I helped a client negotiate his way with the supervising partner through a particularly stressful project. On its conclusion, I suggested that he stop on the way home to buy flowers for his wife. I explained that his wife had been a "passenger" through his recent difficulties … and that since he had come out the other side successfully, he needed to share some of the good times with her … She had supported him without knowing the details and deserved recognition for her efforts. He later reported that his consideration was a huge success!

Had the firm’s culture not tolerated this bully, their productivity and profitability and bonding would have been significantly higher.

Yes, bullying is exaggerated in times of recession and credit crunch, if allowed … But, it need not be.

View page