Respect the Need to Balance Professional Independence and Firm Consistency
JW Way #14 – Respect the need to balance professional independence and firm consistency.
While we’ve all developed our own ways to be successful, it’s also important for us to maintain firm consistency in many areas, and to follow firm policies for the best interests of the organization as a whole.
Applying generalized descriptions to any one group of individuals, whether it is as a large a group as all individuals from a certain country, or as small a group as the attorney and non-attorney employees of a particular law firm, is not only often “politically incorrect,” but in fact is virtually always incorrect, at least as to certain members of the group. Nevertheless, I strongly suspect that if one hundred people who have worked for several years in the legal profession in Arizona were presented a list of law firms, and asked to write a short generalized description of each of the law firms on the list, that there would very likely be much greater similarity between the descriptions provided, than not. The reason for this is that within each law firm a type of culture has developed, whether intentionally, is the case with Jaburg Wilk, or unintentionally, as of much more often the case.
It is incumbent upon every individual who is part of the larger group to be consciously aware of the culture that exists, and to act consistent with that culture, even if doing so may, at times, go against the way that person may otherwise act “independently.” This does not mean, for example, that given a particular set of facts presented by a client, that every lawyer is expected to develop and pursue the exact same legal theories. To the contrary, the “professional independence” enjoyed by each attorney at Jaburg Wilk allows for the opposite to occur. On the other hand, if the client who presented the facts has a weak small claim against a well-funded litigious opponent, it is expected that every lawyer at Jaburg Wilk will act consistently with the firm’s core values. This means the lawyer will discourage the client from unwisely spending their money filing a lawsuit, and will instead serve the best interest of the client by attempting to negotiate a settlement, even though taking that course of action will result in less fees being earned by the firm than if a lawsuit is filed.
The “balancing “ of “professional independence” and “firm consistency” implies that one always needs to give up some or all of one in order to achieve the other. To the contrary, however, the more that every person at Jaburg Wilk understands the firm culture and exercises their professional independence in a manner that is consistent with that culture, there will seldom, if ever, be a need to curtail professional independence while still acting a way that is recognized as “the way that people act who work at Jaburg and Wilk.” This will result in the firm achieving and maintaining a great reputation.
About the Author: David Allen, a partner in the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg & Wilk, has been representing clients in both transactional and litigation real estate and business related matters over thirty years. He is licensed as an attorney in both Arizona and California, and is also a licensed Arizona real estate broker.