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The Management Case For Mindfulness and Meditation In Law Firms

Ownership is different than management. Ownership requires different skill sets and uses different metrics, even though it's closely aligned with management.

Ownership and management go together, like a hand and a glove, and in my past Twitter tweets and LinkedIn posts, I identified a number of business ownership reasons, and a number of management reasons why our law firms should institute mindfulness and meditation programs as part of their business model.

Broadly speaking, the management reasons can be broken down into six primary concerns: 1) Client concerns; 2) Firm values; 3) Civility; 4) Professionalism; 5) Connection, and: 6) Soft skills.

Client concerns. Clients are the life-blood of our law firms, and from a management perspective there is nothing more important--which is why client concerns are at the very top of the list. Do the lawyers in the firm, particularly those who are younger and just out of law school, get it?

Is the firm familiarizing them with the importance of its client base? Is the firm providing its lawyers with an adequate opportunity to reflect upon just how important clients are to their professional future, and the future of the firm?

Firm values. What are your firm's core values? Are those values communicated only as words or concepts, or are they internalized and truly understood by the firm's lawyers?

Are firm values obscured by matters of compensation, benefits and status, or are the lawyers given time and space to reflect upon those values at their own leisure, so those values can begin to take root?

Civility. There is a lot more to building a law firm than simply providing an office, insurance and a paycheck. And there is only so much that leaders of firm management can accomplish by knocking on doors, or hanging out near the water cooler.

Individual lawyers create the fabric that becomes "the firm" and civility--as well as shared experiences (like those that can grow out of a top-down supported mindfulness and meditation program) will go a long way toward weaving that fabric.

Professionalism. Isn't this what we all think of and look for, in a law firm? Isn't professionalism what our clients demand from their law firms? The questions answer themselves--that's why the law is regarded as a profession, and not simply another job.

That's also why Shakespeare wrote so poignantly that in tearing down an existing society, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Our professionals--both young and old--need time and space to remind themselves of their status, and to reflect upon what that means.

ConnectionThe whole concept of connection can sometimes sound a bit flaky, but it's at the heart of everything an effective manager does. Connection with professional peers, with partners, with clients--even with the men or women who are our professional opponents--is critical, and can be the difference between a successful relationship, and a failed relationship.

To the uninitiated, the seemingly solitary practice of mindfulness or meditation might seem to be antithetical to the notion of connection. I can assure you, however, that is not the case. Quite to the contrary, there is no better way to connect with another person--regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or status--than to sit together in silence. It's powerful stuff!

Soft Skills. Last, but certainly not least, is the management of--the encouragement of--the so-called "soft" skills. Have any of us truly mastered those skills?

The soft skills are what enable each of us to be the best (and most effective) version of whoever it is that we can be. The soft skills are what allow professionals to succeed and drive the firm forward, into the future.

As managers in the legal profession, we need to provide time and space for lawyers to reflect upon, and understand the importance of, the soft skills (sometimes referred to as "people" skills). Law school and law firm training teach lawyers how to effectively deploy their "hard" skills like research, writing and rules of advocacy. Don't forget the importance of complementary "soft" skills!

In conclusion, law firm management--working closely in conjunction with firm ownership--needs to cultivate and take care of the firm's professionals in ways that go well beyond the concerns catalogued in the "business case" blog.

Sure, the law firm is a business, but it's much more than a widget manufacturer or particularized service provider. In order to be successful, a law firm has to be more than the sum total of its individual parts but that will only happen if the firm's professionals are managed wisely.

At MLCCG, we believe that truly effective management must incorporate the time and space that are unique to a well-designed mindfulness and meditation program. Let's talk, and you can decide for yourself!


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