Posted by: johnocunningham | February 4, 2014

Clients Now Know If You’re a Bad Boss

Over the past several years, I have had the opportunity to interview a significant number of current and former General Counsel, asking them many questions about why they hire, fire or defect from outside counsel.

One of the questions I started asking – at the suggestion of a well-known GC – was whether a GC had ever dismissed or failed to hire counsel because of the way they treat their own employees. I have had the chance to ask the question numerous times over the years (most recently as a moderator at last year’s RainDance GC panel) and I find that almost all General Counsel say that they become very concerned about reports of employee abuse or mistreatment because the counsel they choose are a reflection of who they are and, more importantly, what their company’s brand means.

I have also been astounded at the number of anecdotes about how many General Counsel have refrained from or stopped doing business with a lawyer or firm because of employee mistreatment issues.

While every GC says that this is a rare occurrence, almost all have encountered it at some point, and I suspect that for each instance of known misconduct, there are many more instances of unknown issues.

But that is likely to change going forward, thanks to the Internet and social media. Websites and social sites that post reports on “good and bad bosses”, such as Glassdoor.com and Above The Law, are proliferating, and  employees who once cowered in fear are now speaking out, albeit often anonymously.

Leading-edge law firms – such as Bingham McCutcheon, Alston Bird, Arnold & Porter and Perkins Coie – understand that being a “best place to work” is more than just a PR statement, it is a reflection on THEIR brands and a way of attracting the best talent AND the best clients.

How you treat people, how you train them, how you utilize them, and how you promote them are all relevant to your business development and client retention capabilities.

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