PHILADELPHIA SENIOR ASSOCIATE CORPORATE M&A ATTORNEY
Immediate Need for a “Go To” Senior Associate Corporate M&A Attorney to directly interface and develop and close $30-$40-$100 million deals for leading law firm clients. Partnership opportunity. No Business Required. Extra-Ordinary work environment with lots of flexibility. Very Personally Rewarding. Practice includes handling mergers, acquisitions and dispositions of assets and of Fortune 500 companies, as well as small and medium-sized companies, including finance firms and private financial services and lending companies. Will be drafting and negotiating acquisition agreements, stock and asset purchase agreements, exchange agreements, stockholders agreements, IP consulting agreements, independent contractor agreements, privacy policies and software agreements. This is an opportunity to make a meaningful difference.
One way that older attorneys practice law differently from newer practitioners is that veteran lawyers are more risk averse than younger attorneys. Just like your investments are supposed to get less risky as you approach retirement, some older attorneys seem less willing to take risks that can potentially have a major windfall for them and their law firms.
At several points in my career, I have seen older attorneys refusing to pursue work that might be lucrative, but could be risky because of conflicts, malpractice liability, or other issues. Older attorneys might want to take less risk because they are closer to retirement and don’t want to endanger what they have built over the course of their careers.
However, younger lawyers are usually a lot hungrier than older attorneys when it comes to originating business. Newer attorneys usually have more of a need to make a name for themselves, and are more likely to originate lucrative business despite the risk. Of course, if you have more time before retirement to recover from a setback, you are going to be willing to put more on the line for a bigger payday. In any case, people naturally have different outlooks depending on how far they are in their careers, and this affects how attorneys practice law.
From my own personal experience, some older lawyers also might not see the value of electronic discovery and social media information as much as younger attorneys. Of course, this was more of an issue at he beginning of my career, when electronic discovery and social media case law was in its infancy. However, some older attorneys don’t have much of a presence on social media, and still might not see the value of electronic discovery.
I once worked for a seasoned partner who was well into his 60s. We had a case that could have benefited from social media discovery, since the plaintiff claimed injuries that couldn’t possibly be so serious if you judged him by the images on social media. It was difficult to convince my boss to demand social media discovery, and he kept calling Facebook “MyFace,” even though MySpace was long dead by this point! We eventually obtained some very valuable social media discovery, and I was happy I was persistent on obtaining these really helpful materials.
Older attorneys also have more traditional views about practicing law that younger practitioners typically have. Older attorneys, for instance. usually value having a fixed office that they can use to meet clients and out of which they base their practice. Of course, it is typically a good idea to have some fixed place where you can base your practice, and you definitely earn a certain amount of “cred” if you have an office.
However, many younger attorneys I know do not have a permanent office out of which they work. Indeed, many (mostly younger) attorneys use work-share environments and other similar arrangements to have a workspace without the burdens of traditional offices. As I have seen firsthand during my career, law firms can get into big trouble because of real estate issues, but some more traditional attorneys are less willing to forgo having a permanent office.
In additional, many older attorneys at firms where I worked valued traditional work relationships, in which employees come to work at a set time and leave at a set time. These attorneys value office face time and collaboration, and do not want to institute nontraditional work arrangements. I can understand why certain veteran lawyers sometimes institute more rigid work relationships, since some corporate clients require that attorneys be in their offices during business hours, and this is the way things have always been done.
However, working “9 to 5” is so 20th century! Many younger attorneys I know have instituted nontraditional work arrangements in which attorneys can arrive at an office and leave as they please, so long as they bill a set number of hours. In addition, many younger attorneys I know work from home and don’t even have a traditional office out of which they base their practice.
Still other younger attorneys I know have taken full advantage of the “gig economy” and don’t work for a traditional employer. Rather, these attorneys get paid for each assignment they complete and they can finish the work wherever they want. Working at one firm for an entire career was the trajectory of attorneys a generation ago, and now, younger attorneys tend to have more flexibility in their practice.
In the end, I am far from the first person to discuss the generational divide in the legal profession, and of course it is not fair to overgeneralize older and younger attorneys too much. However it is important to keep in mind that older attorneys think differently than younger lawyers, and newer attorneys should remember this when interacting with older managers. In any case, it is fair to say that veteran attorneys are usually more rigid in how they approach the practice of law, while younger attorneys typically embrace flexibility in how they practice.
Imagine that eight people walk into a meeting to discuss an important strategic decision for their company. They’re all well-versed in the challenge they face. But two members of the group hold some key piece of information or a perspective that not everybody has considered. Everyone knows, for example, about the major trends in the industry that the boss has been talking about for months. They’ve seen the slide that shows last quarter’s disappointing sales results a hundred times.
Only one person, however, knows about the recent moves of a competitor, while another has insights into an important emerging technology. The whole point of getting everyone into a room, it would seem, would be to make sure that new information comes to the surface so the best decision can be made.
In a workplace that values harmony and respect (and nearly all now do), that new information, sadly, will almost certainly get buried. That’s thanks to a pernicious and powerful quirk in group psychology called shared information bias.
Here’s what happens: in nice organizations, team members become highly attuned to each other’s feelings and short-term well-being. Individuals rightly assume that their survival and advancement is based as much on how nice they can be and how good they make others feel as on the results they produce.
So, what strategies do they we use in this survival-of-the-fittest jungle of niceness? Evidence shows that that one of the best ways of making a group feel good and making your teammates see you as competent is to repeat and repackage information that everyone already knows. It makes you look smart and in-step with your colleagues even if you’re just rehashing the same thing that was said last week or by the person who spoke a moment ago. We intuitively know this, so most of us default to following this path. As the heads start nodding and the good feeling starts spreading, critical thinking starts shutting down. Team members who hold contrary or novel information even begin to experience a type of amnesia as the pull of agreeableness focuses their attention on what the group already knows and erases potentially unique contributions from their memory banks. At the end of one of these nice-fests, everyone reports feeling happy, even the person whose perspective was silenced without quite realizing it.
The cost of niceness
Good as it feels, this emphasis on niceness leads to poor decision-making and low levels of creativity by limiting the number of inputs a group will consider and diverting focus away from risk-taking and results. It also, surprisingly, reinforces cultural biases against women and people of color. This is ironic because “nice culture” is, in many ways, an outgrowth of attempts to make companies more inclusive and welcoming, a backlash against the hard driving, dog-eat-dog, exclusively white male workplaces of decades past. But niceness fails to increase equality, even making it worse.
The reason goes back to how shared information bias works. The unique information that gets squashed by it is most often held by lower status individuals—and in most companies these ranks are still disproportionately non-white and female. Everyone knows what the boss and top-level managers believe, so that’s what gets discussed. Those further from the centers of power risk more and have little to gain in terms of increasing group harmony by speaking up. So they don’t. To make matters worse, women, more than men, have been raised with cultural expectations that they will be always be nice, further silencing important but perhaps inconvenient contributions they might make.
Nice workplaces thus quickly become tyrannies of conformity and inequality. Perhaps your nice organization is different, but that would make it the rare exception. Once the expectation for harmony is set, very few companies make it clear that it’s acceptable to go against the grain when it’s needed. When Harvard’s Francesca Gino asked 1,000 people if they worked in companies that encourage nonconformity, 900 said no.
For the sake of better performance, creativity and equality, it’s time for leaders to confront the nasty effects of niceness culture. We can start by defining “respect” as something different than uninterrupted harmony. We need a shared understanding that respect is shown when we invite and listen to someone’s unvarnished perspective, even when that perspective contradicts or weaken the positions of others. Even when those perspectives make the group less happy and comfortable.
The problem of shared information bias, automatic and invisible as it may be, can be conquered with some simple, well-studied techniques. Before a meeting starts, everyone should write down the key pieces of information they want to share.That way, team members can overcomethe amnesia-effect of hearing dominant information simply by consulting their notes. Leaders should speak last, inviting those with unusual or unexpected information to speak first. And no meeting should end without everyone in the room being specifically invited to offer up what he or she knows. Such techniques don’t make time spent together easier but they do lead to far better creativity and performance.
Most importantly, it’s time we admit that there’s an aggressive nature inherent in workplaces that demand, directly and indirectly, that others will be nice. It says: “our comfort and feeling of safety is more important than your intelligence and expression.” Perhaps such demands increase the level of niceness in a company, but they are anything but kind.
Lawyers beginning their legal careers in Big Law today earn more, specialize earlier and benefit from technology that affords them flexibility. I’ve spent 24 years working with students, alumni and employers. Here are seven notable changes impacting new lawyers today:
The Double-Edged Sword of Technology
A decade ago, new associates were given a Blackberry upon joining a firm. And they were excited about it! While there was an expectation that associates would be available beyond their work hours even then, now the expectation is truly 24-7. Young lawyers know they are entering a profession in which they will be always be on-call. Learning to juggle client and supervisor expectations while also having a life outside of work can be a big challenge. At the same time, advances in technology have made working remotely much more feasible. This often allows attorneys the flexibility to get their work done on their own terms, rather than always having to be physically at the office. Many firms, taking note that balance is important to young lawyers, have adopted flexible work policies and shared office spaces that accommodate flexible schedules.
Increased Salaries, Increased Debt
Starting salaries in Big Law have increased from $125,000 to $180,000 during the past decade. During the same time period, the average law school student debt load also has increased dramatically. As a result, the pressure to find a high-paying position straight out of school is higher than ever before. Young associates have the opportunity to make a lot of money early in their careers, but need to be extremely savvy about financial planning to determine how they will use that money to pay down their debt and live life.
A Focus on Increased Training and Exit Opportunities
Young lawyers entering private practice 10-15 years ago may not have been set on partnership, but most saw it as a viable option. Today, few associates expect to make partner, and many simply don’t want to do so. Some intend only to stay at a large firm or in private practice to get training and pay off their law school debt. Whatever the reason, most entry level lawyers will change jobs within their first three years of practice, and most likely several times during their career. As a result, in their job search, law students tend to focus on how working for a particular employer will help them achieve their longer-term career goals. Firms, knowing that associates want not just a good place to work but also a good springboard for future opportunities, are responding by providing increased continuing education, career development and mentoring opportunities. Many firms now have in-house professional development staff to create and run these programs. Many firms have also created alumni clubs to help departing lawyers stay connected to the firm and to each other.
Unique Mentoring Opportunities
Because lawyers are living longer, working longer and less likely to retire early, more generations are working under one roof today than they did 10-15 years ago. As a result, lawyers working within a firm have very different work styles, expectations and technology comfort levels. While navigating this setting can be challenging, it also provides new lawyers unique mentoring opportunities across generational lines. Firms are taking advantage of these opportunities and recognizing the importance of mentoring and sponsorship to retention across the board, and specifically for the advancement of women and diverse attorneys.
Uncertainty around the Lawyer’s Role
In the last decade, much of the work that used to be done by junior associates is now being outsourced through legal process outsourcing, and more work could soon be taken from junior associates due to advances in Artificial Intelligence. At the same time, clients do not want to pay to train junior associates, and expect firms to write off the time that used to form the bread and butter of a junior associate’s billable hours. In-house legal departments, seeking to keep costs down, are more frequently in-sourcing work rather than relying on outside counsel. Taken together, this indicates that the future of legal practice is much cloudier than it was 10 years ago.
Increased Options for the JD Degree
While advances in technology provide some uncertainty to the future of the legal profession, they also result in more opportunities than ever for what a new graduate can do with a law degree. New lawyers are launching startups that marry their technological savvy with their legal knowledge, working in legal ops positions, and taking policy positions at technology companies. They are using their degrees in more ways than ever before in JD-advantage careers, and can specialize in practice areas that didn’t exist years ago, such as Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence and Privacy Law.
A Focus on Mental Health & Balance
Lawyers, like society as a whole, are starting to have more conversations about mental health, life balance and inclusion. Recognizing that reducing stress is important both for the well-being of their employees and for their bottom line, firms now offer mindfulness programs, yoga classes and healthier eating options. They also offer enhanced benefits, like gender-neutral parental leave policies. Many have hired outside diversity consultants or in-house diversity officers to help guide the development of policies around diversity and inclusion, a change from ten to fifteen years ago, before many of these initiatives. With employers focused on creating a healthier and more inclusive environment for all employees, this is perhaps is the most meaningful change for new attorneys and for the profession.
A new regional analysis of law firm geographic profiles and growth reveals the payoff from being a truly national or international law firm just may not be what it once was.
Does Geographic Growth Pay Off?
Over the past decade the primary objective of many large law firms has been a simple one: get bigger. Firms of all sizes and regional origins have made deliberate moves (and some explicit announcements) that indicate their intention of becoming national or international players in the legal space. The trajectory from regional to super-regional to national to international is well-worn; and the benefits of being an international or national law firm seem indisputable. AmLaw-reported revenue demonstrates firms who fall categorically into the international or national realm are strong performers. Their 2016 revenue is 146% higher than a typical regional firm, on average, and their profits per equity partner average 13% higher. A new regional analysis of law firm geographic profiles and growth, however, reveals the payoff from being a truly national or international law firm just may not be what it used to be.
In 2009, international law firms generated 3 times the average AmLaw firm in revenue and national firms 1.6 times the average. By 2016, both these figures dipped, with international firms dropping to 2.6 times the average and national firms to 1.3. Still higher, yet not as pronounced. Over the same time frame, the percentage of AmLaw 200 firms categorized into the international or national segment increased from 19% to 30% of law firms, a notable macro-shift in the industry in less than a decade.
What Is a National or International Law Firm? Methodology and Approach
Before getting deeper into this analysis, an explanation is in order. Mainly, what does it mean to be a national or international law firm? For the purposes of this analysis, law firms were categorized based on the distribution of lawyers across various U.S. regions and globally. By our approach, 53 of the 179 AmLaw 200 firms analyzed from 2009 to 2016 are national or international as of the most recently published data. Other law firms were grouped into regions based on the region in which the greatest number of their lawyers resided (see the end of this article for more detailed on the methodology used).
While this methodology, like most, is far from perfect it does provide us with an objective, concrete way to analyze the market and the movement of law firms along the spectrum from regional to national and beyond. Other measures such as brand, reputation and profile, though they may extend beyond the geographic footprint, are simultaneously amorphous and mutable; and, in many instances, they reflect perception far more than reality. Figure 1 illustrates the regional dispersion of the 179 law firms present in both the 2010 and 2017 AmLaw 200 rankings.
From 2009 to 2016, 29 law firms shifted regionally. Eighty-percent (80%), or 23, of these movements followed the aspirational path from regional to national or international. Of the few that did not follow this traditional route, two-thirds actually reverted from national to their historical regions (e.g., King & Spalding’s emphasis on international expansion, compounded by a dip in its Houston office, positioned the firm back in the South East where 41% of its lawyers resided in 2016).
Regional Trends: Which Regions Performed Best?
Within the U.S., the Greater New York, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions boast the highest concentration of AmLaw 200 firms. New England, a smaller region by definition, hosts the fewest of the top 200 firms in the U.S. Size, however, is not a deterrent to financial performance. New England vies for the highest growth in PPEP of the regions, rising 32% from 2009 to 2016. New England also boasts the greatest increase in both PPL and RPL at 27% and 22%, respectively. It is perhaps not surprising why the recently anointed top-ranked firm in the U.S., Kirkland & Ellis, set their sights on the market for their most recent expansion.
Like New England, the South East, which spans the eastern seaboard from South Carolina to Florida, seems to prove fortuitous for growth. The fastest-growing region by revenue, the South East outpaced average growth by 44% and contends with New England for the greatest increase in PPEP over time. The region also enjoys above average rises in PPL and RPL, making it one of the more growth-oriented regions in the analysis. In all fairness, the firms in these regions did start from lower revenue bases. The basal disparity, though, lessens in per partner and lawyer metrics and these regions continue to outperform the others.
Unfortunately, not all regions fared as well as New England and the South East. The region registering the smallest growth in both PPEP and PPL is the Mid-West where average PPEP grew at a rate ¾ of the typical firm. Greater New York is also at the low-end of the growth rates in key financials such as RPL and PPL, as are International firms.
The variability in performance across regions is evident. Perhaps less so are the possible explanations or compounding factors. The million-dollar question remains – does it pay to become a national or international law firm?
Does National or International Expansion Pay Off?
Let’s tackle the question from two perspectives. First, in absolute terms – national firms in 2016 generated about 27% more revenue than the average firm. Their RPL and PPEP results are on par with average and their PPL figures fall just below. International firms performed at a much higher level, with revenue 2.6 times the average and PPEP 26% greater than a typical AmLaw 200 firm. Their RPL and PPL, however, both register lower than average – and lower than national firms – the likely result of their size, leverage and varying international currencies and contributions. Profit margins for both national and international segments are below average.
In terms of change, the picture is equally spotty. Firms that transitioned to becoming national or international players between 2009 and 2016 expanded rapidly, increasing revenue 32%, one-third more than firms who did not expand beyond their regional categorization, and in line with national and international players. Among these firms are a handful of high-profile mergers such as Hogan Lovells and Locke Lord. The vast majority, however, expanded organically or through smaller acquisitions. Revenue growth, however, is the sole bright spot in terms of change for these firms. PPEP grew at rates similar to regional firms and notably slower than 2009’s national and international firms, as did profit margins. Other measures of profitability, including RPL and PPL, suffered as firms invested in growth, suggesting firms are acquiring lawyers more quickly than clients and work, at least for those in the U.S. Those expanding internationally may instead be trading growth for expansion in lower-rate global regions. Growth in these metrics trailed regional firms by 27% and 25%, respectively.
In short, the firms who grew from regional to national or international are bigger but not necessarily better. Being national or international is an attractive position with somewhat mixed results. The appeal is not ubiquitous. On a broader scale, the implications for the industry are equally murky. As firms continue to jump on the national and international bandwagon, the system itself will continue to show signs of strain – overcapacity, slowed growth rates and declining profit margins. A future rife with increased consolidation, quietly failing firms and notable dissolutions seems likely. Yet there are bright spots to be found. For some firms, the benefit of buckling down and investing in core strengths may far outweigh those of expansion.
More Detailed Methodology
Firms with more lawyers outside of the U.S. than in any single U.S. region earned the international moniker. Those firms with more than 12% of lawyers in at least 2 major U.S. super-regions captured the national designation. The remainder were categorized into the region housing the majority of their lawyers.
Marcie Borgal Shunk is president and founder of The Tilt Institute, a firm dedicated to unveiling new perspectives on law firm growth through intelligence, innovation and intuition. She facilitates must-have discussions with executives in legal and specializes in helping law firm leaders make better, data-driven business decisions.
It would be lovely to think we could say anything and everything to our fellow desk slaves. But let’s get real: the modern office is a labyrinth, and even the best intentions go awry. Whatever your candidate is trying to express, be sure it’s not taken the wrong way. Give them this guide so they never say any of the following to a co-worker.
Money is a difficult subject at the best of times. Asking a co-worker what they earn is risky on two fronts: the question may be taken as invasive, and the answer itself could cause trouble. After all, you’re unlikely to see someone the same way if you discover they’re paid double your own salary.
Of course, there are occasions when asking a colleague what they’re paid may be acceptable. If they do the same job as you and you’re concerned about discrimination, knowing the difference between yours and another’s wages may be essential.
In this case, frame your question as such, and make it clear that you will respect their decision should they wish to not share. You have no right to their financial details, just as they have none to yours.
2. “That’s not fair/not in my job description.”
Come on, Negative Neil, pull your socks up. It’s a rare workplace where some people aren’t routinely landed with more work than others. Perhaps you’re a small workforce with a limited number of hands on deck. Or perhaps you’re simply the nearest mug to hand when something goes wrong. But if you do get asked to do something unusual or outside your remit, complaint isn’t the correct response.
Let’s be real: life isn’t fair. Moaning about justice makes you look naïve, not hard-done-by. Besides, job descriptions are not contracts. Outside your core obligations, your employer can give you pretty much any task they want. If they’re asking you to do something illegal or morally dubious, that’s one thing. But loading the printer for the third time that week? Pipe down.
If things get really out of hand, you can approach your manager privately and express any concerns about your workload. But don’t expect ‘it’s not fair’ to get you anywhere in the real world.
3. “I’m so hungover.”
You’re an adult. You go out. You sometimes consume alcohol. Yes, the office gets it. But making a point of these things is more likely to make you look stupid than ‘cool’ or ‘grown-up’.
Fostering a reputation as the office party boy/girl may seem like a good idea until you realise that nobody cares, much less respects you for it. You’re at work to do a job, not to chat about the hottie who helped you to the tube because you were just so trashed yah.
Do what you want with your free time. But leave it at the office door.
4. “How old are you?”
Unless posited by an actual mate – which colleagues rarely are – nobody likes this question. In the workplace it carries especially negative implications, suggesting an attempt to measure yourself or your colleague against some age-based successometer. Avoid.
Even for people who adore their job, work can still be stressful, exhausting and all-consuming. It can come home with you, lingering through dinner and stealing your time with your family or supposed relaxation time. Below are a few tips on how you can untangle yourself from work at the end of the day!
It’s a myth that you will one day be able to go home from a clear desk. It’s never going to happen.
The plain truth is that there will always be work undone at the end of the day.
This gives you three options:
1) Go home, but take the work with you and spend your evening doing it. This ensures maximum friction at home, minimum rest, and returning to work next day tired before you start.
2) Drag your body away, leave the work, then spend the evening fretting over what you left behind. Same results for friction and rest. When you get back to work next day, you’ll be tired—and the work will not have been done either.
3) Leave the work behind gracefully, forget about it, and enjoy a relaxing evening. No friction, lots of rest, return next day refreshed and ready to tackle what’s waiting for you.
Here are some techniques to help you achieve the last of these three options: to make a smooth transition between work and home at the end of the day, have a pleasant evening, and get the rest and refreshment you need.
Treat your commute home as a positive time to wind down and start the process of relaxation. Play some favorite music, if you can. Whistle or sing to yourself. Enjoy the drive or the train journey. You might as well, since you have to do it, enjoyable or not. Don’t catch up on the news. It’s bound to remind you of work or depress you.
Match your journey time with the time you need to relax. If that means taking the long, scenic route, so be it. If it means stopping at Starbucks, that’s just fine. Your family and friends will prefer you half an hour later in a calm mood rather than half an hour earlier in a foul one.
Never hurry home. If you do, every hold-up, traffic jam, late train, or missed bus will be a source of additional stress. Take it easy, even if you don’t dawdle.
Treat your commute home as your time—a period just for you. All day at work, you’re at other peoples’ call. Now it’s time to to relax and be yourself. Don’t turn the people at home into imaginary “bosses” monitoring your progress along the way and eager to complain over every lost moment.
On a bad day, leave for home early and arrive on time or later. The worse the day, the more time you will need to relax. The worst thing to do is stay late, then rush home. You’ll arrive like a grizzly bear with toothache.
If you need to rant and vent, do it along the way. Curse the world in the privacy of your own vehicle. Park up and yell where no one can hear you. Walk to the station the long way, yelling and cursing (silently!) to yourself. Don’t walk in the door when you arrive and start into a rant. Who wants to welcome anyone like that?
If you must take work home—and you should treat that idea as you would infecting yourself with a specially repulsive social disease—agree a set time to do it and stick to that agreement. Early is best. If you spend an hour or more working before you get into bed, you’ll be wide awake, probably sleep badly, and start the next day off on a poor footing. Besides, who wants to make love to someone running over budgets in their head at the same time?
When you get home, pay full attention to whoever’s waiting for you. Never be present physically and mentally elsewhere—it’s an insult. Even the most insignificant domestic matters can wean help your mind away from work.
Always keep your promises. If you’ve arranged to eat out, don’t cancel, pleading tiredness or extra work. If you’ve promised to help your child with homework, do it whatever. Firstly, people who break promises are teaching those around them a dangerous lesson. Secondly, though you may really, really not want to do what you promised, you may well end up enjoying it—and feel far more energized than if you slumped in front of the TV. And lastly, you promised, remember? Don’t be a jerk as well as a wimp.
Be firm with yourself. In the end, leaving work behind, mentally and physically, is down to you. You have to want to do it, decide to do it, and then do it—and keep on doing it until it becomes the norm. Slowing down and clearing your mind of the leftovers from the day is an act of will. You may think that watching TV or distracting yourself in some other way is a short-cut, but it isn’t. The minute you ease up on the distraction, all the worries will be back.
Using a few techniques like this can help to send you home as the kind of person your family will be glad to see—the kind of person who spends an enjoyable evening with them, gets a good night’s sleep, and is ready to go back to the office to do a good day’s work the next day.
Guess what? It will all still be there in the morning. Forgetting about it for an evening will not cause the business to collapse, the markets to crash, or civilization to come to an end. Sadly, all of us are utterly expendable. If you went under the proverbial bus, the world would go on smoothly without you. Remember that when you’re burning the midnight oil.
Even before it was vogue, 18 years ago GLI plugged and played its first remote employee – The Office Manager, no less. Nancy Grimes, the President and Managing Partner of GLI is all about flexibility and finding new ways to do things which provide workable solutions to all sorts of situations. She had her hands full when her then invaluable Office Manager announced that her husband was dragging her to a small town, I mean small, over 350 miles away to Indiana where jobs were scarce and fulfilling jobs were even more scare – there just weren’t any challenging positions and where the pay really paid you to get out of the house. So, necessity once again became the Mother of Invention and for 8 years, while we loved the continuance of the relationship and she, the opportunity to have a baby and still enjoy the sweet balance between motherhood and work.
Since then, we’ve been a leader in “why not work from which ever location most suits you”. But we have found that it isn’t right for everyone. It takes high discipline but if you have it, it allows you to reap the fruits of your benefits. It was from that “why not work from which ever location most suits you” mentality that allowed us to find Jessie Pugh Weiss – and then SHE Happened! We really happened upon a real treasure when we discovered her! Jessie is the perfect blend of wit, brains, dedication, creativity and discipline. Perhaps because Jessie is a remote employee, she has developed an attention to detail, she has been able to grow, develop and has truly become a very important “go to” with-in our company. Nancy Grimes says that a huge contrib
utor to Jessie’s success was that all of the pros and cons of working from home were hashed out, right up front. We both were aware of the challenges and we also knew while working from home isn’t the perfect set up for everyone, it was for Jessie.
Three years ago it was GLI who worked to convince this would be Star Researcher and Staff Support person that “yes” it was possible for her to work from home; that she could be there when her children got off the school bus and she could also continue to be involved in the small town community as well as be directly involved and act as a support at her children’s school, their education as well as attend their sporting events. We didn’t think it was necessary to divorce the two – but rather that she could have a work life balance. Jessie exemplifies the best of the way remote employment is supposed to work. She has the flexibility of being almost anywhere and everywhere she is needed. She’s eliminated the time and cost of a daily commute, the internet is fast, cheap and reliable (most of the time) and I am sure she doesn’t really mind the perks of working in her pajamas and having a say as to her work hours. We actually believe that Jessie’s home-base employment contributes to her productivity and there are many occasions when Jessie leaves early but often times puts those hours back in after the traditional work day normally has already ended.
So what is the down side? If you ask Jessie, it’s harder to separate your private life from your business life. It’s about having to juggle the house phone ringing, or kids in the background if there is one out sick or on holiday and then there is the “not really being able to leave work” feeling or being able to leave the stresses of the office truly behind – unless you simply power the computer down and walk out and shut the door.
When it comes right down to it, working remotely and from home is largely a personal choice. It certainly requires being able to carve out a work space at home, which doesn’t have to look professional for the clients but which we have learned, certainly gives the brick and mortar office a huge boost to productivity. I know for OUR company, it has been a really GOOD thing and, I think in large measure, it is mostly a good thing for Jessie. We absolutely love it when we get to actually SEE her in the flesh! I think she enjoys the brief in-person stimulation and re-connection, and showing off of new shoes, but she is an anxious sort and works best from her GLI in-home office. We celebrate Jessie Weiss today and her example of being that top drawer, always dependable, dedicated and extremely goal-oriented person she is.