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April Newsletter

April 1, 2013

Dear Friends and Colleagues,


It was recently suggested to me that I need to use this forum to offer some more original “thought leadership.”  That readers don’t want me to simply be a clipping service for articles they’ve likely already read.  That I should try harder to be original and, if I’m truly doing my job, I should be able to rouse emotions and actually make people disagree with me. Doesn’t strike me as the best way to make friends and influence people but I take the point.


So, here’s some thought leadership: Most of the people in search of career change are closet entrepreneurs who want to do something different and challenging and, well, entrepreneurial. The primary thing that prevents an employee from becoming an entrepreneur is fear.  Yet, most of the people I spend time with, namely lawyers, are inherently risk averse creatures.  It’s scary enough leaving one ‘job’ for another ‘job’ but leaving the comfort of employee status to some more ambiguous one, while theoretically liberating is actually terrifying.


I, for one, am unemployable. Or perhaps, unemployee-able. By that I mean, I think I’d make a terrible employee.   I tend to think, ‘why lay awake at night and worry, why sweat the details, why implement a vision that belongs to someone else?’  Of course, the world needs employees.  In fact, employees are the critical link in the food chain that is the workplace.  But being an employee isn’t for everyone.


Here are my top 10 signs you may be unemployee-able and, perhaps, destined for a more entrepreneurial pursuit.


10. When your personal brand within the organization for which you currently work starts to grow larger than, or become a threat to, that organization, you could be unemployee-able.


9.  When the people around you who are in positions of leadership or ownership appear to care less about the condition of the organization than you do, you could be unemployee-able.


8.  If planning your exit strategy at work is the thing you do to distract you from the thing you’re supposed to be doing, you are most likely unemployee-able (and likely soon to be unemployed).


7.  It is not enough to simply be lucky but if you have the ability to recognize luck and pounce on it and truly maximize it, while not a sign of unemployee-ableness, could be a strong indicator that you are more entrepreneurial-able.


6.  If you don’t steal from the company supply room, if you pick up litter in the hallway or find yourself tidying the company washroom, you are likely unemployee-able.


5.  If paying taxes physically hurts and actually angers you and you view them as eating into your profit margin, wishing you could demand an ROI from Ottawa as a condition of paying them, you could be unemployee-able.  Or just Canadian.


4.  If going to the office doesn’t feel like work and if your blackberry or iPhone are seen as wonderful enabling tools, that every time they vibrate fills you temporarily with hope that it could be a new file or deal, you could be unemployee-able.


3.  If at some point, it stops being about the money and starts being about something bigger…a legacy, a reputation, an epitaph…you could be unemployee-able.


2.  If you have left the employ of an organization and upon doing so you’ve determined that you could never go back, not to the company but to the status, you are likely unemployee-able.


1.  If you are running a business and someone offers you a pot full of money to buy it on the sole condition you stay on as an employee and you promptly reject it out of hand, you are likely unemployee-able.  Or perhaps, just dumb.


Only 3 days remain to make a contribution to my efforts as part of the Pekarsky Stein Pro Bonos hockey club in support of the Gordie Howe and Friends Alzheimer’s hockey tournament taking place next weekend.   Any level of contribution is welcome.   Thanks to those who already donated so generously.  For those who still wish to help, simply click here.


Happy April.  Enjoy the articles and let me know if you’ve had enough of my thought leadership.








Keys to Improving Realization
By:  James D. Cotterman
Article Link:

There are three metrics that make up timekeeper revenue—demand, pricing, and realization. The recession ravaged all three of these metrics. Demand for lawyers’ services collapsed in some practice areas and weakened elsewhere. Rising hourly rates, once the driver of revenue growth with increases easily outstripping inflation and expense growth year over year, now barely match inflation. A decline in realization which had been very gradual over the long-term, accelerated and, combined with slowing price increases, has resulted in nearly no net gain on a realized rate basis. Much of these patterns continue as the profession transitions beyond the recession. This article examines realization more closely to aid firms in managing this economic lever.  [Read more]



Images Makeover Focuses on why Lawyers Chose the Career
By:  Geoff Kirbyson
Article Link:

After being the butt of countless jokes and bearing the brunt of repeated surveys putting them firmly in the bottom of the barrel of public opinion, lawyers are fighting back.

In Ontario, anyway.

The province’s bar association has launched an image makeover campaign to leverage the generally strong positive sentiments people feel about their own lawyers, which far outstrips the stereotypical view of legal professionals.  [Read more]



Why Recruiters Will Be at the Heart of Our Corporate Future
By:  Adrian Kinnersley
Article Link:

My last post on why I believe LinkedIn will never kill the professional recruitment industry seemed to generate a lot of attention. While some of the numerous comments made a lot of sense, I can’t help feeling that there are still a lot of people missing the point.  [Read more]



Non-Equity Trends

By:  Thomas S. Clay and James D. Cotterman

Article Link:


In recent years the number of non-equity partners has grown significantly, but in many firms the non-equity tier is not functioning as it should.  Managed well, a non-equity tier can be a proving ground for new laterals, a transitional stage for rising stars, or a long-term berth for technical experts. Instead, it often becomes a warehouse for lawyers who don’t generate their own work, block upcoming talent and don’t add economic or professional value commensurate with their compensation.  We’ve compiled some statistics on the increase in non-equity partners in the Am Law 200 since1999.  [Read more]



The Quest for Client Value

By:  Stephan Mabey

Article Link:


The battle for market leadership will never end. Trying to match every move made by our competitors and then upping the ante a bit will not work. In the end we will offer no more than the next firm and therefore be no better off. Our services will become commodity-like, resulting in lower, longer-term profitability. [Read more]



These Days, Recruiters are Worth the Money

By:  Vanessa Merit Nornberg

Article Link:


When it comes to sourcing the right interview candidates, I’ve never been keen to use recruiters. But I recently changed my mind.  My company, Metal Mafia, has an excellent candidate screening process, a super training program, and a very successful team of employees to show for it.


But hiring has always been a difficult task for me because each time I get ready to hire, it takes me forever to find the right type of candidates to even get the screening process started.  [Read more]



Corporate Counsel:  Agenda 2013
By:  Catherine Dunn
Article Link:

As general counsel continue to ply their trade amid a complex regulatory environment and a slow-moving economy, they are grappling with questions such as how to forge strategic partnerships with company leaders, and how to create a culture of compliance with purchase, according to a new report, “Corporate Counsel: Agenda 2013,” from ALM Legal Intelligence (a part of Corporate Counsel’s parent company, ALM).

Still dealing with pressures to do more with less, in-house counsel are also examining workflow in their departments. And while many are concerned with how to better manage outside counsel costs, the survey reports, GCs overwhelming prioritize partner responsiveness above hourly rates.  [Read more]



Law Firm Boots on In-House Ground

By:  Vanessa Chris

Article Link:


The majority of in-house lawyers are familiar with the term secondment — the act of hiring a lawyer from an outside firm on a temporary basis. While the concept has been around for a long time, it’s becoming more commonly used as in-house counsel suffering from budget constraints, higher workloads, and temporary leaves-of-absence look for relief.  [Read more]