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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When Is Healthy Competition Unhealthy?

Most workplaces thrive on competition.  Especially – especially - law firms.  I happen to know. 

After sixteen years of working at one of the largest and most competitive law firms on the planet, I’ve come to accept the inevitable: my work is often a zero sum game. 

Someone has to win.  Someone has to lose.  Welcome to the profession.

This reality hit me hard last week after a successful jury trial.  I extended my hand to the losing party, but he pulled away with anger and harsh words. (His wife also gave me a big scowl.)  What was I expecting, a hug?  After all, the goal in court is to win, not to make nice. 

Court isn’t the only place lawyers compete.  We compete for clients.  We compete for talent.  We compete with other lawyers.  We compete on behalf of our clients.  So why should internal competition be any different? 

[Click here to continue reading at The High Calling]

1 comment:

David Rupert said...

Love that you were highlighted at THC!

Also, love your take on this. It is such a balance. Competition makes us better, improves our processes, and makes be better stewards of our time and resources.

But it also, as you point out, can prey on our many terrible human weaknesses.