Where does culture start? And, where does it evolve? How do you shift it once you realize it’s not where you want it? Boy oh boy, I bet Fox News is wondering about the answer to that last question! Gender bias suits are on the rise; I’m sure I’m not the only one noticing. Where does this start? In your culture.
If you have a brand new firm, the collective small group you banded together are creating the culture. Oftentimes this is more of a statement about leaving another firm than it is intentional development of a new one. Perhaps you are entwined in merger talks, where you have countless hours of meetings beforehand that help you coalesce the combining cultures and you are comfortable and confident you are on the right path. All it takes is allowing one attorney to operate outside the defined boundaries (time entry, client intake, billing deadlines, you get the idea) to shift the culture. Magnify that with interpersonal challenges that are known, but not rectified, and you have the slippery slope of a claim.
Maintaining cultural integrity begins with recognizing that your firm’s values are measured by what is rewarded, and what is tolerated, not what the website says, or are written on your extranet or firm walls. Integrity is trust in action. What is rewarded in your firm? Time to shift? Start slow…and immediately!