Today, I took an RME (risk management education, which the Law Society requires lawyers to take). The themes of RME courses are always about teaching us how to make law firms a more “stress free” environment. The Law Society figures that a stressful firm only increases the chances for negligence or malpractice, and that costs a lot of money for insurers. These RME courses seem like something created by the insurance industry to lower payouts.
The “horrible” boss
In our role play, we had the quintessential partner, let’s call him “Ed.” In one role playing scenario, a senior associate have been facing problems in his practice, and goes to the partner for advice. Their conversation goes something like this:
Senior Associate : Ed, I’ve been really stressed lately. I feel that my lack of supervision puts me in a lot of stress and that I might be prone to make errors.
Ed : You’re the Senior Associate. If you need another senior to supervise you, then why are you the Senior Associate?
Senior Associate : I’m sorry, I’m just saying I’ve been really stressed with the amount of…
Ed : You know, with your attitude, this really ain’t looking good for your partnership path. Besides, you’re not billing enough hours.
Senior Associate : What? The only time I’m not billing is when I’m taking a shower…
Ed : Hey, I’m not asking you if you’re taking a shower. I’m asking you when you’re taking a shower, are you thinking about your clients? If you are, then why aren’t you billing the clients in your shower?
Senior Associate : Are you suggesting that I make stuff up in my time sheet?
Ed : I’m suggesting that you use some creativity, stupid! You got no excuse for your low billables!
Senior Associate : But I’m already billing 2000 hours…
Ed : Back in my day, I’m billing 4000 hours! 2000 is nothing!
Senior Associate : Maybe I’m just wondering if this path is right for me…
Ed : Hey, don’t tell me that. If you’re not sure if this path is right for you, don’t come to me asking for advice. Go to the HR!
The course tutor then rips apart how horrible the boss is to his employees. She randomly points to me and asks, “Do you think this kind of a partner can retain talent?”
I responded, “A person with character flaws attracts other people with character flaws. ”
Unconvinced, the tutor challenged me, “But with an attitude like Ed’s, will he be able to attract talent to his firm?”
I said, “Maybe only 1 in 10 people could work with him, but that one person will be Ed’s rising star. Maybe Ed will hire someone who wants to be just like Ed?”
Angered by my response, the tutor then asks me whether Ed’s attitude should be encouraged and if I would want to work in a firm like Ed’s.
I said, “In an ideal world, no. But there are many people in this world with character flaws, but I am sure that there are many others who want to be just like Ed. It’s not up to me to judge. I personally wouldn’t want to work with Ed, but I wouldn’t mind working in his firm if I’m Ed.”
“Okay, I get your point,” she says, “but should this be something we should encourage?”
I replied with this: “At the end of the day, all that matters is how many clients Ed is bringing in.“