October 15, 2005

AmLaw 200 vs. Fortune 500: Alternate Realities in Professional Development

Bruce MacEwen (Adam Smith, Esq.) has this great post comparing The American Lawyer's release of its annual survey of mid-level associates, and Business Week's cover story on "how to recruit, train, and hold on to great people."

Bruce presents a bone-jarring juxtaposition of negative comments relating to some law firms' approach to professional development vs. that of Fortune 500 companies. As he quoted from the AmLaw survey, "sometimes it's not pretty" in terms of what occurs in large firms. Read the quotes. Having worked in both small and large firms, none of those comments are surprising to me -- keeping in mind that it's always dangerous to generalize or take comments out of context. But clearly, there is something to these concerns.

In stark contrast, savvy corporations are walking the walk and talking the talk: They are devoting substantial resources in finding and developing their greatest resource: People. For instance, read "Caterpillar Constructs a Leadership Pipeline". This is not merely lip service, it is the corporate culture as embedded and fostered by strong leadership.

One of the basic tenets of Six Sigma is "steal shamelessly all non-proprietary and non-copyrighted ideas". In other words, if you find something that has worked for someone else, why reinvent the wheel? Let's just say there is much law firms can learn from their own clients, and they don't have far to go to get it. The real question: How many want it?

Topic(s):   Law Practice Management
Posted by Jeff Beard