PUZZLE PIECES – Part 7

With the added context of David Brooks’ article on leadership, “The Humble Hound,” (NY Times, April 9, 2010) (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/09/opinion/09brooks.html), we resume the imaginary cross-examination of a very real senior partner profiled in “Not Done Yet” (ABA Journal, April 2010) (http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/not_done_yet)  

Partner: “If you’re asking me whether we have very talented attorneys who don’t progress to equity partnership, my answer is yes.”

Q: “Compared to you and those who rose those through the ranks with you, it’s a lot of very talented attorneys, isn’t it?”

Partner: “Sure.'”

Q: “That’s because today’s big firm business model requires leverage — lots of non-equity attorneys and other time-billers for every equity partner, right?”

Partner: “Look, big law firms have become businesses. I didn’t make it that way and I can’t ignore the marketplace. If we don’t maintain high equity partner profits through appropriate leverage ratios and other means, we’ll lose our ability to attract and retain the best people. If that happens, the entire institution will be at risk and we’ll endanger the jobs of everyone who works there. It’s called free market capitalism and I didn’t invent it.”

Q: “You didn’t invent the phrase, ‘pulling up the ladder,’ either, did you?”

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