The Mindfulness Blog

subscribe to RSS feeds

« back to all blogs

What Do UK Companies Know, That Law Firms in the USA Don't?

A friend (who is a lawyer, and former Managing Partner of his firm) recently sent me an article from the Financial Times entitled. "Employers embrace workplace wellbeing"-- guess he knew that I'd be interested. And he was right!

David Roomes (chief medical officer at UK engineering group Rolls-Royce) capped off the article with a quote that really resonated with me: "We are busting the myth that productivity only comes from driving people harder. We want to look at the whole person and be much more thoughtful about how you lead and manage to ultimately give you better results. We spend millions of pounds a year on plant and asset, and everybody says our people are our assets but our investment by comparison is modest"-- he could just as easily have been talking about a law firm based here in the States-- but he wasn't.

Driving people harder, like whipping a racehorse down the homestretch, seems logical enough-- until that logic changes. The only question that remains is: Who will be the leader who understands the new logic that heralds the future of the legal profession, and embraces it in a transparent and meaningful way? There are a handful of would-be candidates, but no one man/woman/law firm has yet claimed that mantle.

Concededly, the companies cited in the subject article are not part of the legal profession, but the data generated by their efforts apply every bit as much to lawyers, legal staff and law firms. That is, unless one were to believe that people in the legal profession are so different from their working peers that what derives from one group has no bearing on the other-- which is just plain silly.

What the companies who were featured in the FT article focused upon and clearly understood was that people are not racehorses, and whipping them to work harder (even if incentivized by large bonuses or lavish vacation policies) is not the way to increase productivity-- at least, not sustainable productivity that is more than a blip on a chart, or a bump on a report.

Sadly, charts and reports are currency of the realm, in the legal profession. They are (in many instances), quite literally the only metric recognized by the leaders who manage our law firms. As a result, they are the only metrics recognized by most of the lawyers who actually make up the law firms.

Having previously been a member of an Executive Committee that managed a mid-size law firm in Chicago, I understand the value of metrics and measurement-- they're certainly useful as data point. But they're detrimental if they're the only data point-- somewhere along the line personal observation, experience and a pinch of common sense need to be part of the decision-making process.

That's the truth in the UK, just as it is also true here, in the States. It's true in the wider commercial world and it's true for the more narrow legal profession. We're all people with similar wants, needs and desires-- that's largely what the wellbeing movement has brought into focus. Now it's up to us, to figure it out!


Categories: uncategorized
« back to all blogs



Name (required)
E-mail (required but not shown)


Blog Articles