What Makes Lawyers Tick?®

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This post is a reprint of an article that I wrote for the ABA’s “Legal Career Central” website. It was originally published on November 15, 2015: The Lawyer Personality: Why Lawyers Are Skeptical I’ve been gathering data on lawyers’ personalities since the early 1980’s. Personality traits are typically measured on a percentile scale ranging from zero % to 100%. When large samples of the general public are tested, individuals’ scores on a given…
To those of you who have been followers of my blog, I offer an apology for going silent. It’s been almost two years since my last post here. That hiatus is the result of a combination of factors–(1) a very busy consulting practice; (2) some personal issues (aging parents) that had higher priority; and (3) I’ve been blogging over at the ThomsonReuters Legal Executive Institute website. For your convenience, I’ll be posting my LEI blog posts…
In talking to law firm leaders these days, what I am hearing most frequently are their concerns about disruptive change and its impact on their ability to maintain a profitable and competitive firm. One consequence of this increased focus on change is that rank-and-file partners are being asked to do more with less—to take on additional roles, step up their performance, be better at the things they never had to be good at before. This…
As I’ve talked with law firm leaders over the past six months, increasingly I’ve heard them describe a troubling list of symptoms that they’re seeing in their lawyers. In their own words, here’s what they’re observing: Malaise, complacency, burnout, an attitude of hopelessness, weariness, a “giving up” mindset; Increased conflict; not playing nicely in the sandbox; Failure to reach out to the best talent to staff a matter—sticking instead with their most familiar colleagues; Increased…
Baby Boomers are beginning to retire. In the legal profession, one microcosm of that trend is that managing partners are beginning to retire. In the old days, managing partners were mainly full-time lawyers who also carried out administrative responsibilities part-time. But in more recent years, the role has grown into a full-blown leadership role with much greater demands. Many of the firm leaders who have announced their upcoming retirements have been in office for ten…
In three previous posts, I’ve discussed the psychology of how to hold partners accountable. I focused primarily on approaches that work well with individuals. In this post, I want to introduce you to three approaches that are more strategic, and work well with teams, groups or an entire firm. As a consequence, they have broader reach and impact. Each one is based on relatively recent research and has a sound, scientific foundation. Each one has…
In a previous post (Accountability 101 – Part two) I mentioned that to achieve accountability on the part of partners, you need to: Use a buy-in approach. Avoid either coercive or “incentivizing” approaches. Be proactive, not reactive. Use multiple interventions, not just one. In this post, I want to address the third point, “Use multiple interventions, not just one”. Use multiple interventions, not just one: Changing human behavior is not easy—we are creatures of habit,…
This is part two of a series of posts on partner accountability. To recap, in order to achieve accountability, you need to: Use a buy-in approach. Avoid either coercive or “incentivizing” approaches. Be proactive, not reactive. Use multiple interventions, not just one. In a previous post (http://www.lawyerbrainblog.com/?p=198), I explained the importance of the buy-in approach. In this post, I want to address the second point, “Be proactive, not reactive.” Once I explain this,…
How do you “hold partners accountable?” It’s the beginning of the year, and many law firm leaders are still struggling to get their partners to complete some of the non-billable tasks that are vital to the firm’s success. In the past several weeks, I’ve spoken to a number of law firm leaders who have raised the accountability issue. One managing partner expressed concern that his partners weren’t billing enough hours, and he wanted to hold…
I’ve been gathering data on lawyers’ personalities since the early 1980’s. Personality traits are typically measured on a percentile scale ranging from zero % to 100%. When large samples of the general public are tested, individuals’ scores on a given trait typically form a classic bell curve, with the mean average for any given trait hovering around the 50th percentile. But lawyers are different. As I have written about elsewhere, there are a number of…