Stop the Law Firm Drama

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The associate who started last week is leaving this week. The receptionist is fighting with the senior associate. Three long-term team members, along with their assistants, are leaving to form their own firm.

It never ends. At least, that’s how it feels.

You have all the drama. It’s like a Broadway show in your office, with a cannon firing off at random moments. Then a big horse walks on stage and suddenly falls off sideways into the front row. It turns out this isn’t in the script and wasn’t supposed to happen. Firefighters come rushing in as the audience evacuates. Yeah, you’ve got drama.

Is every law firm like this?

Then you meet a lawyer who has been in the same firm, with mostly the same group of lawyers, for two decades. She has an assistant she hired when she started, more than twenty years ago. She’s living a drama-free work life. She shows up where she’s supposed to be, when she’s supposed to be there, with her files in order, her research done, her notes neatly organized. She’s calm, cool, and collected. There truly is no drama.

Why can’t we live like her, in a drama free world?

We read books looking for answers. We go to workshops and seminars. We pay consultants to help us get things under control. We fire people, we hire people, we reorganize our team.

But no matter what we do, the drama persists.

In a fit of rage, we’re tempted to fire everyone and start over with a whole new team. Or, we decide we should go it alone, ditching the team entirely. Then the drama can’t possibly happen because there’s no one with whom to create drama.

But alas, at some point many of us realize that the drama is not about others. It’s not rooted in them. It’s not coming from their decisions and behaviors. No matter what we do, where we go, who’s on our team, how we approach the work–the drama is always bubbling.

We realize that the drama is us. We realize that it’s coming from us.

The drama causes constant upset and change. People come, people go, our approach to problem-solving changes.

But through it all, the one constant is us. We are always here. We are the source of the drama.

Once you realize it’s you–and I too eventually had to turn the blame on myself–then you’re on your way. Understanding where it starts is the only way to begin to bring it to an end.

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