Legal Career Expert, Nancy Grimes, says “Even the most perfect placement or career will not work if the culture is not right. While all of the other factors about the position measure up ideally, if you do not feel culturally at home at a firm, you will not be happy there. And if you are not happy, your work will suffer for it!” That is why for the sake of your clients and your practice, you must determine the culture of a firm before you sign on the dotted line. In order to determine a law firm’s culture, you must consider the four aspects of firm culture; collegiality, strategic focus, and governance.
Collegiality refers to the manner in which people within a law firm interact with each other. Take time to evaluate how satisfied other attorneys are with their current situation. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine the collegiality of a firm:
- How does management interact?
- Do Partners associate with other members of the firm?
- Do members of the firm go to lunch together?
- What kind of responsibilities do members with your skills have?
Strategic Focus is the degree to which the firm has a clear identity, both to itself and in relation to other firms. You may know this as the firm’s brand. If the firm does not have a similar mission to yours, your aspirations could be squandered in the firm’s mission to expand other practices and offices. Ask yourself:
- What sets this firm apart?
- In which practices have they been recruiting more heavily?
- What are the firm’s growth objectives?
- Is there a practice that the firm is known for?
The governance of the firm is the manner in which the firm deals with its people, and the way that its lawyers deal with the firm. This aspect of the firm will potentially make or break the opportunity for you. If you do not like the way the business is run, you will be packing your bags for another move
before you know it.