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Law firms can be considered as joint ventures between the different lawyers that are associated with the firm and their associations with their own clients. In a law firm, the partners share profits as well as absorb the losses sustained. The associates who are employed with the firm can become partners depending on their performance. Once they become partners, they are eligible for profit and loss sharing. The work culture of law firms is unique and it varies from firm to firm. This depends on the size of the firm, the kind of clients which the firm deals with and so on. More often, the culture of a law firm is molded by the associates themselves.

A. Harrison Barnes, the creator and the owner of Law says that the law firms have a number of departments depending on the range of services offered. Each of the departments specializes in a particular filed. The litigation department in the law firms looks into the disputes in which the clients of the firms are involved. There is also the corporate department that provides strategic information with regards to business dealing. The corporate departments of legal firms will usually advice the firm on matters ranging from inter-company agreements, strategic expansion by mergers and acquisitions and so on.

Factors Determining the Working Culture in Law Firms

In the words of A. Harrison Barnes, the work environment in which you work directly influences the quality of work. A healthy work culture not only enables you to concentrate on your work but also helps channel all your energy into the work. This is the reason why firms with a positive and a healthy work culture have productive employees. We will see the various important factors that determine the work culture of a law firm.

The CEO of A. Harrison Barnes says that an important determining factor that determines the work culture of any firm is the structure of the firm. If your firm has a pyramidal organizational structure, with more people at the base than at the top, then it will be difficult for you to develop future potential partners. It restricts the amount of chances which an associate can get to grow in the system as his path narrows towards to the top.

A. Harrison Barnes further adds that the way in which the attorneys and non equity partners are treated when it comes to matters pertaining to promotions also determine work culture of the law firms. Every associate has a dream of becoming a partner in his or her firm. A partner is entitled to profit sharing and thus it is a long term goal of all associates to grow into the position of a partner. Many firms recognize and respect this dream of their associates and encourage them to perform better. These firms also try and mold these employees into future partners. On the other hands, some firms are not involved to a large extent with their associates. They do not take active interest in the growth of their associates. This is a critical factor in terms of employee motivation. This motivation ultimately determines the work culture. A positive culture will ensure that the associates give the best to their employers.

Another very important factor determining the work culture of a firm is the salary structure of the associates says A. Harrison Barnes. Associates need to feel that they are being adequately compensated for the efforts they put in. It is a form of motivation which will ensure that the employees stay happy at their jobs. Money is important for everyone and thus if the employees are happy with their salaries, they will automatically work harder and this will result in a healthier work culture.

An even more important question is how rather than how much the partners are paid, says A. Harrison Barnes. You need to check whether the compensation brackets are determined by the compensation committee alone. The presence of a compensation committee suggests the presence of both functional as well as non functional staff. This is the cause for the rise of politics in a legal firm. The firm needs to decide the basis of the payment which needs to be made, whether it is on a project basis or on the basis of business generated and so on. This approach lowers the incidences of back biting, but encourages individuals to stockpile works for themselves, for they can earn more money this way. This goes a long way in maintaining a healthy work culture.

The structure of the firm whether it’s a two tier or a single tier firm also determines the kind of work culture you will see in the firm. Many of the big established firms around the world boast of equity partners. Equity partners are real partners that are an integral part in any venture which the firm decides to undertake. There exist non equity partners also referred to as sleeping partners says A. Harrison Barnes the creator and the owner of These partners engage enter into contracts with the law firms only for a specific period of time. In firms with a two tier structure, it is very difficult to rise to the position of a partner. Sleeping partners are considered as an obstacle. Since these partners are not permanent, associated view them as a hindrance to their growth. This also plays a major role is influencing the work culture of a legal firm.

A. Harrison Barnes says that law is not only a profession, but it is also a business. The ethical infrastructure of the law firms is bound by factors like the company policies, the unwritten rules, code of conduct, incentives, behavior of the leaders, disincentives, motivating the lawyers to carry out their practices ethically.

A healthy work culture is essential in any legal firm to ensure that the employees give their best. Legal employers should take corrective actions wherever necessary to ensure that the firm has a work culture which breeds professionalism, ethical practices, and healthy competition and so on. At the end, it is the prerogative of the employers to ensure that they take the lead in generating such a positive work to enhance their firm.

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