Shoot!

I wrote a book that was fast asleep.

The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law argues that you should do your very best on every project (and that may not be good enough), you should be responsible, you should be diligent, you should be responsive. (I frequently defend those ideas in this column, too.) If you don’t care to do those things, then don’t expect to succeed at a good law firm. (You might succeed at a bad law firm. You might succeed in a career other than law. But you won’t succeed at a good law firm. Been there; done that. It’s not how it works.)

A few weeks ago, I took a test to measure my leadership style and assess whether I had unconscious biases.

I was startled to see questions asking whether I believed in “pursuing perfection” in my work, whether I valued “standard writing” in communications, and whether I thought “timeliness” mattered.

It turns out that if you believe in those things, you’re a less “inclusive” leader.

Indeed, I learned, articles now insist that aiming for perfection — or as close to it as mortals can come — is no longer politically correct.

If this is political incorrectness, then Biglaw is surely guilty.

I worked for a couple of decades at one of the world’s leading law firms. Believe you me, that law firm pursued perfection. It insisted on using standard English writing in communications. And timeliness mattered.It’s all a matter of self-protection. Partners are both expensive and busy. If partners receive top-quality work from associates, this saves partners time and clients money. Partners thus prefer to work with good associates.Think of things from the partner’s perspective:If you give me a draft brief that isn’t any good, then I have to rewrite the thing.I’m not going to ask you to help with the next project. I’d rather make my life easier.If I ask you to think through a legal project, and you miss the key issues, then either I must identify the issues myself or the client loses.I’m not going to ask you to help with the next project. My clients prefer […]

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