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By Murray Gottheil | January 17, 2024
Write what you know.~ Mark Twain
I know absolutely nothing about the collapse of Minden Gross LLP beyond what I have read in the Globe & Mail. However, I did hang around the legal profession for a long time, and I figure that qualifies me to comment.
My best guess is that contributing factors include the following:
- The founders and their unifying values were long gone and not replaced by a cohesive and inclusive vision for the firm;
- Some older partners with big billings and big egos at the top of the earnings heap were making more money than most people can dream of and were happy with the status quo;
- Some younger partners with big billings and big egos were making more money than most people can dream of, but less than the older partners, and they wanted some changes;
- There were partners who came from someplace else and left for someplace else when a better deal could be had;
- A few partners could see what was coming and thought that there was no point going down with the ship. So they left, hoping that doing so would result in their getting their capital back and minimizing their liability;
- Other partners thought, “We have been through problems before and we will make it through this as well without accepting that major changes are needed,” so they stayed until the end, doing same old, same old. They were wrong.
And here is what I think will become of the people who made up the firm:
- Partners with portable client bases will lose some money but will make it all back at their new firms;
- Associates with portable client bases will be snapped up elsewhere;
- Associates without portable client bases who understood ‘internal marketing’ will be swept along to a new firm by the partners with whom they previously worked;
- Some partners and associates without portable client bases will find positions easily. Others will struggle. The older they are, the more difficult it will be;
- A few law clerks and legal assistants will ‘go with’ their lawyers. Competitors will snap up others; and
- Some law clerks and legal assistants as well as management and administrative staff will struggle to find new positions. Nobody will talk much about them, although they will likely suffer the most.
Fingers will be pointed. Some who left early will be vilified as greedy or disloyal, even though they may have done their best to keep things afloat before bailing because they were smart enough to see that it was impossible.
Some of the people doing the finger pointing will wrap themselves in the flag of loyalty, although they may have had more than a dollop of responsibility for what went wrong.
Former firm members will be unable to agree on why the firm culture failed, and how and when better leadership might have prevented it.
For those who fear that it could happen to you, perhaps you might want to think about the following concepts: Firm Culture. Generosity. Loyalty. Leadership. Greed.
Murray is a happily retired lawyer who lives in the country, drives a pick-up truck, writes, teaches and mentors. You can reach him at [email protected] or see what he is up to at lawanddisorderinc.com.