Our law firm is obsessed with building and maintaining a positive workplace culture. Historically, law firms aren’t always known for this, but we are on a mission to prove that law firms can have a great culture if they are committed to it. We’ve learned over the years that building a strong culture is hard, and sometimes maintaining it as the firm grows is even harder. As we continue on this journey, we’ve discovered one key factor that must always be present in order to succeed at having a great culture – effective leadership.

How do you establish effective leadership in a law firm?

Like most companies, strong individual contributors at law firms become managers and leaders over time, mostly due to their strong performance as individuals, not necessarily because of their leadership skills. They soon find themselves in a leadership role where they are responsible for the performance of others and for reinforcing the firm’s culture, often without any training in these areas. According to Gallup estimates, approximately one out of ten managers have the natural capacity to excel in that role, while possibly another two of the ten can be effective with some coaching and training. What this means is that the remaining 7 out of 10 managers are going to struggle to be effective.

In Don Rheem’s book, Thrive by Design, he deep dives into the relationship that leaders have on positive workplace culture, and he suggests that effective leadership is a major factor. Rheem discusses how it’s the job of leaders to maintain an environment where employees feel safe and secure, which then leads to a positive, high-performance culture. Providing timely and appropriate feedback, validation and recognition, and clear purpose and direction, are just some of the many elements that Rheem suggests leaders are responsible for. In a recent employee engagement survey at our firm, we discovered that while our leaders provide and show general recognition and appreciation to our employees, we could improve on providing real-time, more project-specific feedback – both positive and negative. It’s something our leaders are committed to getting better at, and it started with a new awareness of a performance gap we have in being effective leaders. In acknowledging our areas for improvement, our firm shows commitment to its staff and culture in improving all performances, not just the leaders.

About the Blog: Culture Counts is a blog devoted to the discussion of law firm culture and corporate core values.  Frequent topics include positive work environment, conscious capitalism, entrepreneurial management, positive workplace culture, workplace productivity, and corporate core values. 

About the Firm: Klemchuk LLP is an Intellectual Property (IP), Technology, Internet, and Business law firm located in Dallas, TX. The firm offers comprehensive legal services including litigation and enforcement of all forms of IP as well as registration and licensing of patents, trademarks, trade dress, and copyrights. The firm also provides a wide range of technology, Internet, e-commerce, and business services including business planning, formation, and financing, mergers and acquisitions, business litigation, data privacy, and domain name dispute resolution. Additional information about the IP law firm and its IP attorneys may be found at www.klemchuk.com.


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