One of the things we hear a lot in law firms is that each firm has its own culture. Leaders within the firm strive to maintain that culture. Lateral recruiting focuses in on making sure that new hires understand the importance of the firm’s culture and that they fit in with that culture. Growth plans are centered around whether or not the plan will change the culture. We all know the Peter Drucker quote that “culture eats strategy for lunch.” The problem of giving firm culture an almost cult-like status within the organization, is that it can be used as a weapon against the people the firm needs the most. Those are people who are great at what they do, but may have different life experiences from what the firm’s culture expects.
The question to ask ourselves is “are we unfairly judging others based on the concept of how well they perform under our idea of firm culture?” Is that an honest way to evaluate people, or does it create an implicit bias which sets people up to fail simply because their life experiences are different from those who established the culture? This idea of unfairly judging people with different life experiences with the concepts of following firm culture hit me like a ton of bricks when I was listening to an episode of Thi$ is Uncomfortable called “Crying at Work.“