In FORTUNE, management expert Geoff Colvin reports that excellent institutions know their core and keep feeding it well, both in ordinary and not-ordinary times. He provides the example of DuPont which recognized that it was only about chemical research and made it its business to feed it even in the dark times of The Great Depression.
In these crazy years when lawyers are being tossed about and often away by their employers, Colvin provides wise counsel. Lawyers who know what they are will have an easier time surviving whatever. No matter what goes down on the job they can maintain their bearings. If the job ends they will intuitively know what to do next in terms of a path.
What that core is can differ a lot among lawyers. For example, Providence, Rhode Island's John Tarantino is the lawyer's lawyer, earnestly talking law to judges, ranging from a solo act in Superior Court to a group on the state Supreme Court. Aon's Mark Herrmann, as he details in his latest book "Inside Straight," is a lot about the macro view of practicing law, both in house and in law firms. Criminal law attorney Alan Dershowitz seems to be about digging for the details which will be the game-changers.
In my work, the core has to be about being fresh in a point of view and content. When I do that, even when there's no business, I manage to eventually attract more than I can handle.