Pre-empting this post by saying that I don’t know Akin Gump’s head of litigation Stephen Baldini. In fact, not sure I know anyone at Akin Gump.
In fairness I would also add that emails such as the one Baldini sent to his litigation team internally – that recently went viral – are probably written every single day in law firms across the world.
What does interest me with this story though is how it clearly identifies (in my opinion) that the litigation “team” at Akin Gump is clearly not “A” team but rather several different teams.
Why do I think this?
Well, let’s take a look at at some of Baldini’s opening comments:
“We have recently had an extremely difficult job getting people engaged on matters”.
“Too many calls for help are either ignored or met with “I’m too busy.” These responses simply do not synch with our productivity, which for 2 months has been extremely low.”
Interestingly, Baldini’s email likely highlights a bigger problem in the Akin Gump partnership deed. That is this: it indicates to me that the Akin Gump partnership deed has a Supervising Partner/Instructing Partner component to it, whereby the Supervising Partner of lawyers in their team are assigned costs, but the Instructing Partner is assigned revenue without needing to necessarily share the costs of the resources they are using outside of their “busy” team (a version of ‘Eat what you kill’ that is played oh so well in many law firms).
To my mind, this accounting issue is a major barrier to internal collaboration in many (if not, most) law firms.
Now I could very well be wrong with that statement, but if you listen to the underlying plea in Baldini’s email:
We need engagement and intensity from everyone on the Lit team across the firm – we also need to act like a team. We need to help each other by easing the burden that is falling on colleagues, and we need to work together to meet our clients’ needs. So when you are asked to help out, please promptly respond, and if you have any capacity please say ‘yes’.
And, if you have capacity, proactively reach out and let others know. We are all professionals and we need to practice with a high degree of commitment to our clients and each other.
I think you might agree that there could well be a silo team mentality happening here.
As usual, comments are my own.
Photo credit Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash