In “Management by Fear Is Becoming Ineffective at Law Firms,” The American Lawyer turned to labor and employment partner Cheryl Orr for insight on respecting associates’ time, as well as changes in law firm cultures and the labor market.
Orr recalled a time not that long ago when managers commonly fostered a culture where people dreaded disappointing their manager or even losing their job. That fear pushed associates to bend the limits on their time, working late nights and weekends.
“If you look back 15 years ago, it was harder,” Orr said. “I was terrified of my practice group leader, and she fostered that reaction.”
But at Faegre Drinker, Orr said she and the firm try to remain cognizant of what deadlines are “need it now” and which are less urgent, such as on a Sunday afternoon, as part of “being respectful to our associates.”
“If something isn’t urgent, we will often lead with letting them know they don’t need to respond until tomorrow,” Orr explained. “Certainly, there are times where that isn’t possible, but they understand that, and we try and be respectful of their time.”
Regarding available options for associates, Orr noted, “As the labor market has opened up, there is more movement.” She added, “We are certainly cognizant of that and want to show our colleagues that we value them.”