Beyond Biglaw: The Dean’s 4-Step Formula For Dealing With Mistakes

By: Gaston Kroub

Show me a lawyer who has not made a mistake in their career, and I will show you a lawyer who has never practiced a single day. Mistakes happen. Lawyers are human, and no matter how well-trained, or how high their billing rate, there will be times when someone screws up. Most of the time, those screwups turn out to be harmless. Other times, they land the unfortunate maker of the mistake in these pages, as an unwilling “news item” of interest.

MistakeAs with many other things related to law practice, younger lawyers are often not taught how to deal with the inevitable mistake when one happens. As a result, easily correctable situations are often made worse, with the “cover-up worse than the crime” an often-seen consequence. In fact, other than being told not to make mistakes, younger lawyers, whether at Biglaw or smaller firms, often receive no training at all with respect to this issue. Making things worse is the tendency of firms to turn partners into demigods, who must have never made a mistake on the way to their current position. And no firm would ever admit that one of its current partners is capable of error. While definitely not true, this aspect of firm “culture” often serves to inculcate in younger lawyers an irrational fear that if they make a single mistake — disaster. Bye-bye to their jobs, at least.

This is a silly state of affairs. And when younger lawyers think that the more senior lawyers they work for are infallible, they are much less likely to come forward to ask for help correcting a mistake. No one wants to be embarrassed and admit they created a problem. But when mistakes are not addressed quickly — ideally with the input of more experienced lawyers who are better positioned to understand the ramifications of both the mistake and the corrective measures necessary — they have a way of festering, making it worse for everyone.

making mistakes

The solution is a simple one: educate younger lawyers, and “remind” more senior ones, about what to do when a mistake happens, as part of trying to minimize the cultural barriers found in law firms that hamper having mistakes addressed quickly and with the input of everyone on the legal team. To start, we can learn from one of the great basketball coaches of all time, the recently deceased Dean Smith — who, despite coaching some of the best players of all-time, definitely saw his share of mistakes perpetrated by his team on the court.

We can use one of the boneheaded mistakes I made as a relatively senior associate as our example.

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6 Personality Traits That Can Make You a More Trusted Entrepreneur

As entrepreneurs, one of our greatest assets is our ability to be trusted.

No one does business with an untrustworthy person. Without trust, you can’t broker deals, close deals, sell stuff, or come out on top. Trust is the one thing you can’t live without.

Trust is hard to gain, though. Many people, especially successful businesspeople are inherently distrustful of others. This is one of the reasons why they’re successful. They have learned not to blindly trust people. By taking this approach toward most people, they have been able to protect themselves from stupid business deals and dangerous partnerships.

If you are an entrepreneur or business person involved in making and closing deals, one of the best things you can do is to build trust. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Authenticity — truly being trustworthy.

You can’t fake trust. You are either trustworthy or not. People who are emotionally intelligent and perceptive will be able to tell.

Being authentically trustworthy requires that you be honest in all your dealings — big and small. You must ensure that every area of your life has trustworthiness. That means keeping promises, maintaining relationships, following through on commitments, keeping your word, doing your taxes and following the little laws.

We all make genuine mistakes. You can’t be perfect. But trust isn’t about perfection, nor is it about some legalistic adherence to an arbitrary standard. It’s an approach to life that is characterized by the pursuit of trustworthiness.

Trust Falls

2. Confidence — insisting on your own way.

Ironic as it seems, someone who is trustworthy is someone who insists on his or her own way.

Why is this true? In any relationship, people will trust someone who knows what they are doing. If you behave in such a way that you know what you’re doing, it inspires trust in others.

Obviously, you don’t want to be rude about this. There’s a way to insist on your own way that doesn’t run roughshod over others. Be gentle but firm about the way that you know to be the best, and people will trust you.

3. Humility — asking for feedback.

Another way to create trust in others is to ask for their input.

When someone voices his or her viewpoint on an issue, the person is creating buy-in. The individual feels as if he or she is having a part in the project, thus voluntarily becoming invested in it. As long as someone feels like he or she is a valued part of the project, the person will trust your leadership of that project.

In order for this approach to be successful, you have to really listen and respond. People can tell if you’re merely getting token acceptance, and whether they are being valued and appreciated.

4. Calmness — refusing to panic in stressful situations

As long as you have a sense of calm resoluteness, people will trust you.

Stressful situations are some of the greatest opportunities to create trustworthiness. While everyone else is running around in a panic, you remain confident and unflustered. People gravitate to that kind of approach. They trust you.

Stressful times are going to happen, both in life and business. The calmer you are, the more you will be able to inspire the trust of those around you.

corporate-meditation

5. Experience — trying and failing

You gain trustworthiness by experience. In order to get experience, you have to make bold moves. Yes, you might fail; but even in failure, you earn trust.

Many successful entrepreneurs whom I know are young. I’ve met twenty-somethings who are worth millions of dollars, investing in VC, starting tech companies and disrupting industries. One of the ways that they’ve built their businesses is by experiencing ups and downs, and creating trust in that way.

Experience breeds trust, but you can’t experience anything unless you go for it. You may fail, and that’s OK, because you’ve gained valuable lessons, and you’ve built trust.

6. Honesty — always telling the truth

At its core, trustworthiness is about honesty. People will only trust you if they know you’re telling the truth.

I can’t think of a business situation where it is better to lie than to tell the truth. As cliche as it may be, honesty is the best policy.

Conclusion

In a business environment that is dripping with inauthenticity, artificiality and scam deals, you’ve got to be a person that people can trust.

Trustworthiness creates its own reputation. As you prove your ability to be trusted, other people will trust you. This creates a cascade of trusting relationships, which lead to profitable business deals. You simply can’t go wrong by being trustworthy.

There will be times when you’re tempted to cut corners or do some little under-the-table deals. Avoid it. It can take a lifetime to build trustworthiness, but it can come crumbling down with one wrong move.

What personality traits do you think are important for being a trusted person?

When an Employee Is On Call, Is That Working?

Waiting on Phone

Your employee is on call, but does that mean he or she is on the clock? Jennifer Palagi of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore takes on the issue in a recent post. She says that in some cases, wage-and-hour law requires on-call time to be paid at minimum wage (or more) if it is “controlled.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has come up with two predominant factors that must be assessed when determining if the time is compensable: 1) the degree to which the employee is free to engage in personal activities, and 2) the agreements between the parties.

Whether the employee is free during on-call hours depends on if there are restrictions to his or her movement, an on-premises living requirement and whether on-call responsibilities could be easily traded, among other elements. As for the agreement, this could be analyzed by a court to see whether the two parties characterize wait time as work or have decided that the person will be paid only for time spent performing an actual job, explains Palagi. She warns companies to structure on-call assignments effectively with an eye to these laws and also to have a clear on-call policy in place.

Schiff Hardin Makes Way for First Female Managing Partner

Eisenstein-Marci

Marci Eisenstein has been elected managing partner of Schiff Hardin, making her the first female to serve in that role in the Chicago-based firm’s 150-year history.

“I am really honored to have that position,” Eisenstein tells The Am Law Daily.

Her new role is effective immediately, and she succeeds Ronald Safer, who served as the firm’s managing partner for a decade, according to Eisenstein. Safer will continue on as a member of Schiff Hardin’s executive committee while also co-leading the firm’s white-collar crime and corporate compliance group.

Eisenstein, who joined Schiff Hardin in 1979, has also served as a member of the executive committee for over 10 years. She says she expects to remain the co-leader of the firm’s insurance and class action groups, while acknowledging that she “will be spending considerably more time on day-to-day management.”

Eisenstein, 60, has spent years representing clients—many of which are insurers—in class actions nationwide. She was a lead trial lawyer for State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. in its defense against a 48-state class action seeking damages following changes the insurer made to auto claims. A long-awaited victory for Eisenstein arrived in August 2005, when the Illinois Supreme Court reversed a 1999 award to policyholders topping $1 billion and dismissed the case with prejudice. The reversal was a big blow to San Francisco-based plaintiffs firm Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein at the time, The Am Law Daily reported.

As the new managing partner, Eisenstein says she will continue emphasizing Schiff Hardin’s core values, including diversity, transparency and collegiality, along with firm growth.

Schiff Hardin has been on an expansion path recently, completing mergers with Washington, D.C.-based Bruder, Gentile & Marcoux in January 2013 and New York-based Mazur Carp & Rubin in July of the same year. The Bruder Gentile merger marked a move by Schiff Hardin to double the depth of its energy practice, as The Am Law Daily previously reported.

Though Eisenstein is Schiff Hardin’s first female managing partner, the firm has been active in promoting women. In December 2014, The American Lawyer noted that at least two-thirds of Schiff Hardin’s new partner class was composed of women for the third year running. That compared to the average among Am Law 200 firms of 32.7 percent.

Read more: http://www.americanlawyer.com/id=1202718263283/Schiff-Hardin-Makes-Way-for-First-Female-Managing-Partner#ixzz3SbrZZ93u

MCCUTCHEON TO FEC: IF THOMAS PAINE WAS ALIVE TODAY, WOULD USE INTERNET TO PROMOTE ‘COMMON SENSE’

Thomas-Paine-Portrait-Common-Sense-640x480Washington DC–On April 2, 2014, the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, issued a ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC that struck down limits to the amount of money an individual could contribute during a two year period to all federal candidates, parties, and political action committees combined.

Monday Shaun McCutcheon, a one-time obscure electrical engineer from Alabama, made his way back to Washington DC to speak once again to the Federal Elections Commissions, this time on behalf of protecting freedom rights involving Internet-based political campaigns.

McCutcheon said that he hopes he isn’t being “presumptuous  to say that most of you know who I am and what I stand for. You know that I am not a corporation, and I’m not a billionaire. I’m trying to implement positive change as one of the people.”

He explained that the ruling of the McCutcheon v. FEC was about “aggregate limits, aggregate spending limits, not limits per contribution,” which he asserted that he did not challenge. He insisted that striking down aggregate limits “speaks directly to our First Amendment rights. Our most fundamental rights, the right to make reasonable contributions to as many candidates as we, the people, choose.”

The Vestavia Hills, Alabama native said that it is our constitutional right to participate in a democratic process as often and wherever we choose. “It has everything to do with the constitutional right of all citizens to support 10 candidates rather than nine, or 21 rather than 20,” he argued. McCutcheon remarked, “Happily, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed with me.”

Apropos of a new agenda to attempt to regulate the internet for political-content-oriented sites like Drudge Report, Breitbart, etc., McCutcheon said:

“The ultimate message in my case, whenever regulators, any regulators, engage in rulemaking, they and their stakeholders must carefully consider all such nonnegotiable constitutional rights before they do anything. They must, likewise, bear in mind that regulation for the sake of regulation is self-defeating. Needless regulation will not stop corruption. It will only play to the advantage of interests and candidates, usually incumbents. The struggle to reaffirm the inalienable rights of citizens to participate in the electoral process did not end with McCutcheon. If the struggle had ended there, we would not need further discussion.”

The first amendment advocate thinks that if anything should be regulated, it’s the government. “Imagine the opportunity and prosperity that we could be enjoying if we had aggregate limits on government spending instead of limits on the people,” he proposed. After all, he said, “If Thomas Paine was alive today he would be using Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to promote Common Sense.”

See More: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/02/11/mccutcheon-to-fec-if-thomas-paine-was-alive-today-would-use-internet-to-promote-common-sense/

Philadelphia to host Democratic National Convention

The Democratic National Committee announced Thursday it will hold its 2016 nominating convention in Philadelphia, where it will officially put forward its candidate who will try to succeed President Obama’s two terms in office.

The City of Brotherly Love beat out Brooklyn, New York and Columbus, Ohio to host the event, to be held the week of July 25. The DNC signed the final contract with Philadelphia Thursday morning.

“There is clearly no better city to have this special event than Philadelphia. The role of Philadelphia in shaping our nation’s history is unmatched,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida Democrat and chairwoman of the DNC.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said the convention is expected to cost $84 million, and expressed confidence they could raise the funds.

Democratic Convention

In choosing Philadelphia, Democrats bypassed holding their convention in the perennial swing state of Ohio, or New York, where former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the presumptive front-runner for the Democratic nomination, could househer campaign.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio had promoted Brooklyn as an ideal spot, but his recent high-profile clashes with the city’s police department could have served as a point of tension as Democrats try to unify and rally behind their candidate. Ms. Wasserman Schultz, though, said the decision was based solely on logistics, security, and resources.

Columbus Mayor Marcus B. Coleman said the city would try to land a political convention in 2020.

Democrats last month announced the timing of their convention, which will be held the week after Republicans hold their in Cleveland.

Republicans and Democrats held their conventions in back-to-back weeks in 2012, but the GOP held theirs in Tampa the last week of August and Democrats held theirs in Charlotte the first week of September. In 2008, Democrats held their convention the last week of August in Denver and Republicans held theirs the first week of September in Minneapolis.

See more at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/12/philadelphia-to-host-democratic-national-conventio/

Dentons Breaks Down the Glass Wall in China

Dentons

Throughout GLI’s history, we have worked closely with Dentons in order to assist them in growing their national and global presence.  We are proud to see Dentons’ latest merger has topped the legal news charts in recent weeks.  With good reason: the merger will undoubtedly make Dentons the largest firm in the world by head count.  The combined firm will have over 6,500 lawyers and will span across more than 50 countries.  But an equally amazing feat is that Dentons managed to further break the barrier between US and China Law.  It’s no secret American Law firms have been having issues breaking into the Chinese markets, but Dentons has certainly made those issues old news.

Something we notice that makes Dentons successful is the firm’s mastery of the use of the verein structure. This allows the firm to merge much more easily with other firms.  Another great benefit of this structure is the firm does not have to worry should China’s attempts at legal changes not emerge.  This offers Dentons great flexibility in the mergers they choose.

We are proud Dentons is merging with Dacheng as we have noticed a swell in the growth of Tier 2 cities in China and Dacheng has 42 offices in China including plenty in Tier 2 cities.  This merger for Dentons will greatly increase their market share in China from around 50 attorneys practicing in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong to over 4,000 attorneys throughout China.  It is not likely we will see any other Am Law firm take such rapid strides into the Chinese market with Dacheng and Dentons cornering the market.

Our Top Legal Recruiter, Nancy Grimes, has great relationships with the leaders of Dentons US.  Because of these great relationships, Grimes was able to get further comments from the firms’ leaders: Joe Andrew and Elliott Portnoy.  We are happy to share their opinions regarding what this merger means for the future of Dentons:

Joe Andrew.Dentons

“With more lawyers in more places where our clients do business, this combination is not about being the largest law firm in the world it is about understanding what our clients need and delivering it. As the only big 10 firm not headquartered in the US or UK, our polycentric approach reflects how the global economy has fundamentally changed and the legal profession must change with it.”

-Joe Andrew, Global Chairman of Dentons.

“With the largest and fastest growing economy in the world, the attraction of China to our clients is strong. All of our competitors are looking East. By

Elliot Portnoy.Dentonsuniting East and West in one firm—not merely through a few offices in large cities, but with a deep presence across China—we can provide

Chinese businesses with global ambitions and international clients with interests inside China a reach and depth that simply can’t be found elsewhere.”

-Elliott Portnoy, Global Chief Executive Officer Dentons.

10 Mindsets That Will Radically Improve Your Business

Mind setSuccess is something all career-driven individuals desire yet it eludes many people — at least at the levels desired. Why are some businesspeople successful and others not?

It has everything to do with habits, beliefs, passion, flexibility and attitude.

Often there’s nothing really different between one entrepreneur and another in terms of ability, as each person can do whatever he or she wants. What it all comes down to is having the frame of mind to set practical habits and keep a balance between attachment and commitment and letting things happen.

Here are 10 mindsets for success:

1. Choose courage over fear.

To be successful, you have to have courage. And to become courageous, do courageous things. Much of being successful is about going beyond what you think you’re capable of — venturing into the unknown. Whether you fail or succeed, you will learn and grow.

Growth, in and of itself, means attaining a level of success whether it came from success or failure.

impossible2. Believe in yourself.

Attitude is everything. A negative attitude decreases success and a positive attitude creates success. Without that belief in yourself, you’ll lack a path to success.

Success is something that’s created. It’s not something that merely “happens.”

When you firmly believe in yourself, you can achieve virtually anything: It’s within this belief that you’ll find the power to create the resilience and fortitude needed to keep going when things get tough.

3. Choose good company.

Whom you surround yourself with is among the most important choices you’ll make as you climb up the business ladder. Negativity is contagious and if work groups, especially bosses, are negative, there will be a ceiling to your success.

To reach the goals you desire, be willing to change bosses if necessary. Or if you’re the boss, rid your team of toxic people immediately.

It only takes one toxic person to destroy the morale of an entire campaign. Further, when you surround yourself with other successful, goal-oriented individuals, you can learn from them and take on some of their habits to add to your own as you proceed along your road to success.

4. Adopt self-chosen goals.

Knowing and being clear about where you’re headed in business is something that must come from within. When your goals selected by you, you’re more motivated to achieve them.

That’s because by achieving these goals, you attain a new desired piece of yourself. When your goals arise from your instigation, they carry a deeper meaning and confer a greater impact on your identity.

Each self-selected goal realized adds a depth and an internal expansion to you as a person. Personal expansion is just one of the great gifts to come from succeeding in your business goals.

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5. Have a purpose and a vision.

Visualization is powerful because actions follow thoughts. A great technique for nurturing your vision and purpose is to make your goals visual. Some people use vision boards; others opt for treasure maps. And still others set goals identifying specific dates for their achievement.

Whatever works best is a matter for the individual to figure out.

I believe that anything that’s written down is more likely to be achieved than visions kept only in the head. When you make your purpose visual, you make it real. When you keep them in your mind, they remain wishes.

6. Accept the challenge.

There are few easy paths up a mountain and often they’re hard to find. Challenge will be an essential piece in any type of success in business.

And challenge is what creates your growth along the journey. Each challenge obstructing your path provides you with the chance to create a more defined direction toward attaining your dream vendors, customers, managers, employees — and numbers. For this reason, bless each challenge. Each one is a compass directing you toward new business leads, circumstances and opportunities.

7. Be discerning.

Selectivity creates success. You must think deeply and intelligently about the bigger picture and what it is you need for each step along the way to continue articulating and executing your business goals.

Mindfulness means being aware of all angles and staying sharply in touch with the present so that you do not have to clean up mistakes in the future.

Be discerning of group dynamics: which person is the best at what job, which customers or deals will take you the furthest and what it is that each moment is calling on you to do or change to be the most efficient.

That’s how selectivity offers you the pursuit of success.

risk reward8. Be willing to take risks.

There are no guarantees on any path to success in life or business. The unknown is always looming. Therefore, risk and education are often the mechanisms necessary for knowing more clearly if you’re on the right path.

If you’re afraid to risk, you will put limits on your success and stay where you’re comfortable. You cannot get what you want if you don’t risk rejection and go for what you desire.

9. Do what you love.

You’re more likely to succeed in business when you’re invested in your passion and making your career fit your personality. There is a way to find passion about anything and everything you do in life.

You may not love every part of your job but tolerating discomforts by looking at the bigger picture makes your investment of time and energy worthwhile.

Be willing to love and find purpose in all aspects of what your business requires, commit to it and see what you’re doing as being a benefit to others. When you love the business you’re in, there is nothing that can keep you from wanting to work at it, nurture it and make it grow.

10. Gratitude.

When you see life and career in terms of the lack in what you have achieved, you cannot drive your business up the ladder of success. Then negativity is impeding your progress.

You must look at all you have and realize how great what you have is as compared to the situation of many others.

When you have this attitude, you stop suffering and complaining about the small stuff. On each receipt you pay out, write thank you. That’s not only to thank the person, event, vendor or customer for what’s provided you but also to give a private thanks acknowledging that you have the abundance necessary to pay for the service, product or event.

Habits coupled with flexibility provide you with a path to success. Success is fluid and so rigidity will stand in its way.

Developing these mindsets give you a compass to navigate the ever-changing tides on the way to business and financial goals. These mindsets allow openness and flexibility while also providing you precise direction.