Face it, once-successful organizations are slow to respond to change. The model for that foot-dragging goes all the way back to the emergence of global competition and Corporate America's denial. Corporate leaders such as Jack Welch and Lee Iacocca became iconic for being early movers in changing the financial structure of their businesses. So, the results of the Altman Weil survey 238 law firms are not surprising. Here you can download the report.
According to Altman Weil, 95.6 percent of those surveyed recognize that increased competition for business mandates a new approach to billing. Yet, only 29 percent have made made significant modifications. No one expects demand in the legal sector to return to pre-Crash of 2007 highs. The industry has to align itself with permanent change.
Meanwhile, the human beings who work in the legal sector are the ones being sacrificed on the altar of inertia. Weekly we read of staff being right-sized as well as alleged stealth layoffs of associates and partners. This manpower crisis mirrors what we in middle management went through at the end of the 1980s when Corporate America got it that it had to change. I was among those banished to make a living by my wits. It took only six months, though, to develop an entrepreneurial mindset.
In Westchester County, New York, Judge Elyse Lazansky ruled not to dismiss the charge of alleged drug-driving against Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert Kennedy, reports the NEW YORK POST. She will have to return to court October 8. She contends her erratic behavior on the road was the result of taking a prescribed sleeping pill.
Kennedy could turn this embarrassment into a public relations coup. She could issue a press statement that she views the court's decision as a victory for democracy. The U.S. legal system does not make exceptions for those from wealth. And she hopes to prove her innocence in the fall. She could then go on to start a foundation on behalf of justice for all, despite income or pedigree. This would provide resources for both the poor and the rich.
A smart move, the University of Connecticut Law School, based in Hartford, has issued a RFP for public relations help. As Greg Hazley reports in Odwyerpr.com, UConn Law School is looking for:
" ... a firm to support the law school's office of communications with regional and national PR planning and counsel."
This will likely include media relations and crisis-communications planning and execution. The top PR firms, as Odwyerpr.com documents, are growing double-digits because what they do is effective. They identify the problems organizations are encountering and develop and implement in a laser-like way strategies to turn all that around. They operate both with traditional and social media. In addition, they extend outreach through special events, participation of clients in delivering keynote speeches, including TED talks, partnerships, and social entrepreneurship.
UConn Law School is on the right track. Other law schools will be watching this closely. RFP responses are due May 30. Here you can find out more about the details.
Sure, Rajat Gupta's appeal for a new trial is this week. So, he's back in the news. THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE has a major feature which presents little new but which gets read. The article doesn't get past the enigmatic fortress Gupta has build for himself and is able to remain behind a drawbridge that's drawn down and a moat stuffed with alligators. Maybe the media as well as us plain-vanilla gawkers will give up on trying to figure the guy out.
Instead, we might shift perspectives and ask why his story continues to resonate. My hunch is that he mirrors our universal tendency to screw up. Only he had the opportunity to do it on grander, more public scale than most of the rest of us. His downfall, as the cliche goes, is Shakespearean.
However, his seeming weaknesses are all too familiar. For example, his hunger for more (he was only a millionaire longing to be a billionaire) made him vulnerable. Machiavellian Galleon head Raj Rajaratnam moved right in on that.
Between professional identities, after he left McKinsey, he seemed to get lost. For us, that starts right after college and we often get stuck in adolescence. Most of my crimes against myself and society came from that immaturity.
And, he seemed to over-value his education and intelligence As we see with all the unemployed and underemployed lawyers, Ivy credentials and the gray matter are increasingly worthless in an economy which keeps changing. Best-selling author Nassim Nicholas Taleb provides insight on exiting that black hole in "Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder."
We need the Guptas because their reversals, even if temporary, provide the platform for doing autopsies on our own screwups.
Most of us know Sanford Heisler for its wins in gender discrimination lawsuits, such as Novartis. However, in its recent win in "Lou v. Ma Laboratories" it could have bagged itself even bigger game. That's because, as the RECORDER reports, the case is about the controversial issue of employee arbitration contracts and how difficult it is to get them tossed.
Sanford Heisler represented lead plaintiff Michelle Lou who signed the arbitration agreement as she was being fired. U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled that unenforceable because it was unconscionable under state law. He noted, says the RECORDER, "The procedural unfairness was severe and the substantive one-sidenesss was heavy-handed."
This was a surprise win since getting out of arbitration agreements has become much more difficult with the ruling in "AT&T Mobility v. Concepion." The defendant's lawyers are evaluting the options for appeal.
Given that arbitration agreements are increasingly being imposed on employees and more, when they feel they have been trated unjustly by employers, want out of them, Sanford Heisler could be very busy. In this niche it could develop an even more powerful brandname than it has in gender discrimination lawsuits.
In BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK, Liz Ryan admits that there are a lot of both sexual vibrations and acting on them in the workplace. Those who haven't had an obsessive passion about someone at work can cast the first stone. Yet, we all know that people get fired, demoted, and sued when the passion runs out of control or is misinterpreted. Also, productivity takes a hit.
TED talks should have the wisest in law, human resources, and psychology focus on this reality. Maybe my age is showing but I have a hunch that passion might be more contained if we had explicit guidelines about what behavior was going to be permitted in our professional dealings.
"In the rooms" of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), lawyers hear repeatedly that a "geographic" doesn't work. Most of time that geographic involves professional opportunity. The lawyer specializing in intellectual property from a mid-sized law firm in the midwest takes a lateral to a large firm in California. At first he's euphoric. Soon enough he's miserable, again. Actually, he could be worse off emotionally than before the change. The intensity of suffering could trigger relapse back into drinking.
Psychology professor at the University of California at Riverside Sonya Lyubomirsky explains why these grabs for a better life don't pan out. It's all in her new book "The Myths of Happines: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn't - What Shouldn't Make You Happy, but Does."
In essence, humans are wired for a certain baseline in happiness. After the positive change, we tend to return to that baseline. The problem is, though, that simultaneously our expectations on what we are entitled to are raised. Therefore, the new position, despite its status, intellectual stimulation, and lucrative pay, serves to create a craving for more and more of that. The lawyer could then start searching for what he perceives as a better opportunity.
How to stop that cycle? Lyubomirsky recommends what will sound familiar to those "in the rooms." That's an attitude change. For example, mentally re-experience what your professional life used to be and develop an attitude of gratitude. Sure, you can go after better professional opportunities. But you do it this time with a grateful heart for what you already have.
Breitbart reports the Kennedy is sitting on that jury in the state supreme court in Manhattan. What we know about this member of the Kennedy family is that she has a JD. Her cousins have had a history of problems with illegal substances. And, the family ideology tends to be liberal.
Thanks to his lawyer Preston Leschins, reports the NEW YORK POST, his defacement of church property resulted in treatment. Blumenthal also made his "amends" in the form of 100 hours of community service and $6,000 restitution.
Most others who are mentally ill and get caught up in the legal system aren't as fortunate. They wind up in prison, usually without sophisticated treatment. Why don't both the legal and medical communities admit how little they really know about mental illness and allow for experiments as has taken place with the Blumenthal case.
Recently a former college classmate - Class of '67 - who retired from the mental-health profession admitted to me that so little is known about what causes mental illness and what can relieve the symtoms as well as the extreme suffering. I, who have battled clinical depression since I was 11, asked her when she realized it. It was recent, she said. Her daughter had become mentally ill. Her daughter is still mentally ill.