Law Firm Culture: Key Indicators for Merger Success
In a newly merged law firm somewhere in the United States, a group of partners engaged in meeting after meeting, trying to reach consensus on a firm-wide business casual dress code policy. Management and leadership were not able to resolve their differing viewpoints so took the issue to the partner group for what
was hoped would be a fast and final decision. Months passed without resolution, as partners from the two merged firms lined up in opposition, generally along office lines. Comments on other issues, unrelated to business attire, crept into discussions and escalated in the meetings. Frustrations mounted, caused by dysfunctional meeting dynamics combined with the painful recognition of the amount of partner time being spent on “business casual.” The wasted time increased. Eventually, a peacemaker suggested that each office adopt its own separate business casual dress code. Finally, both offices could agree, and the issue was “solved.” Within three years, the firm chose to dissolve, and the two major offices separated to try to assume their basic pre-merger status, although that was very difficult to do.
The scenario described above could never happen with a group (or two groups) of highly intelligent, highly motivated lawyers, could it? The answer unfortunately is yes – and many variations on this theme have played out across the legal landscape.
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