How is a law firm like a vegetable garden? Otto Sorts, the anonymous contributor to Attorney at Work, makes a clever comparison between the two.  He provides sound advice on pulling the “weeds” from your firm.

What kind of weeds are we talking about?  He identifies four of them thusly:

  • Those possessing credentials with the knowledge and skills required for their position (lawyers and staff), but fall short when it comes to performing well when the “rubber meets the road;”
  • Those that do not fit into the culture and vision of the organization.  Often these folks poison the atmosphere around them, and may have been hired for the wrong reasons.  (The son of a named partner in one law firm I know quickly comes to mind on both counts.);
  • Those not willing to give a “little something extra.”  For example, not willing to adapt, learn, be creative, or lack ambition and drive.  Don’t waste your time trying to bring them around.  As Sorts advises, “if you don’t value (them)…, pull them;” and,
  • Those who were valuable for some time (and where compensated accordingly), but “who no longer produce.”  Of course, they should be “handled with care and consideration” (as should all of the above).  However, as Sorts states, if last year’s tomato plants are interfering with this year’s beet crop, then they should be pulled.

His advice on how: do it early before the weeds’ roots become well entrenched, and problems just get worse; and as mentioned above, with sensitivity and compensation, as appropriate.  Delaying will only create further disruption to the organization.

A summary comment seems to be most apt. “You’ve got a garden to tend.  You don’t want to spend all your time and effort on dealing with weeds,…”