The Mentorist


Your Boss: Care and Feeding

I’m probably not the boss from central casting.  For one thing, I don’t find hierarchies or org charts all that interesting.  For another, I give my teammates a lot of rope (and do my best to see they don’t hang themselves with it).

On the downside, my quirks are legendary and, when it comes to people’s performance, my reactions are broadcast on my face.  More than once, I’ve been told never to play poker.

Despite it all, I seem to have a knack for collecting talented lawyers into a group and motivating them to become approachable and highly respected business partners to their clients.

In reality, what made my legal teams work so well is that the lawyers who reported to me figured out how to manage me. Yes, they ‘managed up.’ Continue reading

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Hit Me with Your Best Shot….

We stood there in a circle, randomly throwing a rubber ball around.  Each time someone caught it, he had to say a word.  Not just any word.  Rather, one that would advance the story the group had been telling –- one word at a time — ever since starting our game of catch.

That’s no school playground scene I’m describing.  Rather, it’s an improv class for lawyers.

The Legal Team I was managing at the time had lawyers scattered on three continents, and we needed to ‘up our game.’  To that end, we all converged on Boston, and — rather than spending our time in that darling of Corporate America, a ‘leadership training course’ (it must be something about the Venn diagrams…) –- we went to a basement comedy club.  Continue reading

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From the Client’s Chair: Why Your Firm’s Marketing Pitch Didn’t Work — Reason #3

‘From the Client’s Chair’ is a blog post series that explores some of the ways law firms ‘misfire’ when trying to win (and keep) business. The observations are based on my experiences as a General Counsel ‘client’ who has selected and worked with hundreds of law firms over the years. So, let’s turn to…

 Reason #3 for Not Winning My Business: ‘It’s All About Me’

Every General Counsel has been there: The conference room door shuts, the law firm starts its marketing pitch and, for the next hour or so, a quartet of ‘suits’ spews forth about the firm’s competencies, talent pool and achievements.

So, what’s wrong with this picture? Not one person in the group has tried to figure out what my company’s (and, hence, my) problems are and how we’ve been approaching them.

Rather, the firm has interpreted the phrase ‘dog and pony show’ literally, trotting out one expert after another, with the intent of ‘wowing’ me into a business relationship. Continue reading