NY Times Article re Associate Retention Efforts

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

It will be no news to you that big law firms are struggling to retain associates. Almost all of them suffer from an enlarging associate vacuum after the 3rd year. The national attrition average at the 5 year point is around 80%! It really hurts firms to lose associates during what would be their most profitable years, not to mention the impact on firm morale when so many jump ship.

Some law firms are finally getting the message and starting to develop new associate programs aimed at keeping their talent. Although the programs may feel revolutionary inside the firm, in reality, many firms are just dipping their toes in the water. It’s hard to be forward-thinking and innovative when your whole culture is based on looking backwards and following precedent.

To get a peek at what some firms are doing, read the excellent New York Times article “Who’s Cuddly Now? Law Firms?” published yesterday. Most are trying to create more flexibility. Their plans purportedly allow lawyers to decide for themselves whether they want to be hard chargers racing to the holy grail of partnership, or whether they are willing to accept a later partnership entry in exchange for healthier working hours. It will be interesting to see whether the firm cultures really do reward either path.

Dissolution of a Law Firm (January 23, 2008)

Law Practice Management Program
State Bar of Texas
Webcast moderator
Austin, Texas
January 23, 2008

For more information, go to http://www.texasbarcle.com/materials/OnlineClassroom/7839.htm

A New Year by Design or by Default?

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

A bright and talented lawyer lamented: “Where did all the money go?” He was a charismatic guy and had attracted a few good cases. Because he was a skilled lawyer, he enjoyed some success. However, when profits began to dwindle, at first he didn’t notice. Then he didn’t know how to adjust his strategy, because he didn’t really have one.

In the business world, companies can’t get financing if they don’t have a business plan. That’s because bankers know that owners who run their businesses by the seat of the pants are more likely to fail. A business plan doesn’t guarantee success, but in the process of creating one, we establish goals. We consider ways to achieve those goals and how to address the obstacles to achieving them. We set a clear intention about how we want to spend our resources of time, money and talent. That clarity of intention helps us make better decisions when opportunities or obstacles arise. Sometimes during planning we have thought through the consequences of various options in advance. Other times we can ask ourselves, “Is this opportunity more likely to move me toward or away from my goal?”

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