Myths & Prejudices
Hidden from those who harbor them.
Talking about the myths and prejudices that infect law firms is tough to
do in a general sense. Lawyers and their functional groups - law firms - are
as varied as society. No single example fits a meaningful minority, not to
mention majority, of situations. For every person who sees relevance in one
example there are ten or a dozen who think that the discussion is irrelevant
because their situation is different.
Myths and prejudices sometimes relate
to GTSC, sometimes not. Some myths and prejudices are held in good faith,
some require a bit of "sugar to make the medicine go down".
Since we're always distinguishing
and defining terms, we should distinguish and define "myth" and "prejudice"
A "myth" is a handy set of historical presumptions.
A myth almost always serves an emotional
rather than an intellectual purpose. The historical myth of the founding
of the city of Rome - Romulus and Remus being suckled by a wolf, served the
emotional need of the citizens to identify themselves as special among the
inhabitants of the planet rather than providing a logical explanation of their
Myths get started because the person
who first tells it and the person who first hears it both need to go with
For myths to function, that is to stay
alive as part of a culture - including the "culture" of a law firm - they
have to be held as having a degree of validity (outlining some "greater truth")
if not historical accuracy.
Each myth has its place on the continuum
between almost accurate and complete hallucination.
Prejudice is more action oriented than myth.
It is the tendency to use internal criteria in deciding on a course of action.
The word "prejudice" has been beaten up lately in common usage. We use it
to convey moral judgment and opprobrium, not just the simple act of judging
something before we have all the relevant facts. Thus "racial prejudice"
is more a social felony rather than a mistake in process of making a judgement.
When something happens to you
in your market that you didn't see coming, it is likely a partial result
of your myths or prejudices. Clients leave when you thought you were doing
a competent professional job for them, competitors win "beauty contests"
you wanted to win.
In simple terms, you not only have
to watch where you are going, you have to make sure your glasses are clean
and your windshield free of obstructions.
The same is true for environmental
This applies in markets more than
Prejudice example: the firm thinks
of itself as a "white shoe" operation. Associates all join country clubs and
they "move up" to "better" clubs as they progress toward partner. When playing
"reciprocal privilege" golf at a local country club, the pro pairs up our
example lawyer with a fellow who mentions his interest in country music and
stock car racing. Our example lawyer focuses his conversation toward the
other two people in the foursome, and never learns whether the "good ole'
boy" needs the type of legal services his firm provides.
Please call, mail, or e-mail
with your comments or for more information.
Advocates Management, Inc.
1332 South 26th Street
Manitowoc, WI 54220
Voice: (877) ADVOCATES (toll free)
Fax: (920) 684-4414
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