Pam Woldow's At the Intersection

Where General Counsel and Law Firms Connect

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Problem: These days productive lawyering, successful onboarding of lateral hires, and effective Legal Project Management (LPM) place a huge premium on effective collaboration, and a recent Harvard Business Review study found that “time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more over the last two decades.” But lawyers, because of their autonomous nature and persistent drive for personal achievement, are neither naturally collaborative nor comfortable as team players. Not…
In recent posts, we have been discussing the wasteful and demoralizing patterns of “asymmetrical communication” between male and female lawyers, particularly as it impacts team collaboration and effectiveness, as well as good Legal Project Management (LPM). But what, as a practical matter, can be done about it? How Can We Tackle the Problem? One school of thought is to yell at the women: Stand up!  Buck up! Speak up! Don’t apologize! Don’t ask for permission to…
We’re no sociologists, but it’s not hard to divine the root cause of asymmetrical communication between male and female lawyers: the perks, pleasures and pursuit of power.  Power both creates and reinforces inequality – that’s its purpose, after all.  So as between men and women, isn’t unequal power the inevitable consequence of the whole men-are-from-Mars-women-are-from-Venus thing? Have female lawyers simply chosen to play on a power-prejudiced playing field? We can at least fathom the argument…
Our current series of posts about Feminenglish, that peculiar deferential language female lawyers and business women have learned to speak in meetings with men, and last year’s related series about how men tend to grab the mike in meetings and “borrow” women’s ideas, are not intended as a feminist manifesto or a deep dive into diversity policy, gender politics or gender studies. Those worthy topics are the province of other authorities far more expert than…
Typical of the way catchy neologisms leap into common currency, there’s a hot new compliment making the rounds these days: “So-and-so speaks truth to power.”  The connotations of this high-powered compliment are rich indeed, suggesting here’s a person who is confident, courageous, smart, principled, forceful, truthful, and outspoken. The so-and-so receiving this compliment is almost invariably male. That’s because it’s difficult – and frequently risky – for women in the business and legal world to…
Americans are derided in foreign cultures because so few of us speak a “foreign” language. We simply figure that in light of America’s overwhelming economic, political and cultural power, we are entitled to demand that everyone around the world – particularly lawyers, business people and airline pilots — speak to us Americans in the way that is most convenient to us.  “Be reasonable,” we insist. “Say it our way.” And we marginalize those who don’t, consigning…
What if you invented a better mousetrap, but the world didn’t beat a path to your door? What if you developed a promising new medicine for a troubling condition, but when the doctor prescribed it, the patient refused to take it, simply sticking it in the desk drawer while continuing to complain about the malady? At the very least, you’d lament lost opportunities.  At worst, your disillusionment and cynicism would drive you to check out…
  The difference between pricing legal work the way law firms have always done it and strategic pricing is simple: The former looks at the price tag from the law firm’s point of view, focusing on revenue and profitability.  The latter focuses not on how much clients can be convinced to pay, but on perceived bang for the buck, that is, how the client looks at value in the context of its overall business.    The Plan,…
Although dramatic changes in law’s economic landscape have conferred far greater bargaining leverage and purchasing power on clients, in budget discussions with outside law firms, many in-house counsel just aren’t asking the right questions. Clients simply cannot optimize budget planning and management without  knowing the answers to these five questions: Has the Budget Process Included Input from Primary Client Stakeholders? Going beyond negotiations among lawyers on the law firm and client side, the budget must reflect…