Ep 14 Steve Harper | Author, Retired BigLaw Trial Lawyer and Adjunct Law Professor


Hi listeners This is Chris Batz your host of the law firm leadership Podcast as a reminder the transcript of this audio will be available to read or download at line group recruiting com Forward slash podcast if you haven't done so already Please leave a review on iTunes the reviews actually make this podcast more visible for other people to see Finally in the show notes of your device I've provided links to the subjects mentioned in this episode and a link to the transcribed audio As many of you know we interview corporate defense law firm leaders partners general councils and legal consultants you're listening to episode number 14 of the law firm leadership podcast Broadcasting from Kansas City This is the law firm leadership podcast in each episode You'll receive actionable ideas and hear personal leadership stories of the top corporate defense law firms from around the United States Enjoy a front row seat with law firm leaders their partners and legal consultants as we discuss life and the leadership Welcome to the law firm leadership podcast I'm your host Chris Batz with the line group today I have the pleasure speaking with Steve Harper author Adjunct law professor and former big long litigator Steve is a retired litigator of 30 years from Kirkland Ellis he is an author of the award-winning blog the belly of the beast and Several books including the lawyer bubble the legal thriller called the partnership crossing Hoffa and others Steven is a public speaker and contributed to or fielded calls with the New York Times The Wall Street Journal Bloomberg News Thomson Reuters and PR He is also the fellow of the American College of trial lawyers and listed in the Chamber's USA He is a Harvard School alum Graduating with magna cum laude and received his master's and bachelors from the Northwestern University welcome Steve to the law firm leadership podcast It's a pleasure to have you on the show Thanks

Thanks for having me on Steve I wanted to jump right in on a subject That's just pertinent has been ongoing since the crisis based on a book that you released in 2016 let's talk about the lawyer bubble and what seems to be the focus of the book is the kind of short-term thinking Particularly law firms have been espousing What do you see? Eventually I love to hear some solutions or advice for law firm partners sure it's not new I guess is the first point this has been a problem that has been evolving as law firms in many ways to follow the world of business in terms of focusing on short term kinds of thinking short term goals short term metrics at the expense of the long term and Unfortunately what you can't measure doesn't always get counted in that process and so the problem really begins with a kind of Myopic focus on the short term that leads to things like well ok How are we going to maximize this year's profits per partner? And if you take for example go back to the first year that the American Lawyer published the a moie 50 in 1985 the you know average partner profits were about $300,000 which is about $600,000 in today's dollars Well today We've been by that measure extraordinarily successful because now we're well over a million and a half dollars There's another metric That's sort of buried in that which is that in order to maximize profits per partner? What you have to do at least in a relative sense, or what has happened? You don't have to do it, but what has happened in a relative Sense is that you've pulled up the ladder on a generation of attorneys so that you've you've made it much more difficult Firms have made it much more difficult to become equity partners in firms and leverage ratios, which is probably a term That's well known to most of your listeners Which is the number of you know the ratio of total partners to the number of equity partners? Have doubled so that's another way of saying It's become twice as hard to Become an equity partner in a big firm as it was and then there's one other factor in all of this as well which is The the enormous spread that has opened up between those who even if you make equity partner at a big firm Who were at the entry level the bottom rung or the lowest levels of equity partnership in terms of compensation? Compared to those who are at the very top of the compensation spread? To give you an illustration a personal illustration when I've started at Kirkland Dallas And was a you know became an equity partner the you know entry a first first-year equity partner if you will the the highest Compensated equity partner in the firm made about four times as much as I did now People would laugh at that Because the ratios are up to ten twelve in some cases and in the case of the failed firm Julian LaBeouf It was 20 times The spread so you know that that's sort of the phenomenon And it's taking its toll both in terms of the long term at these firms And it's taking its toll internally in terms of what the morale of these places has become for many of the lawyers working in them Steve have you seen firms resist the urge to? Pump the numbers if you may or to adjust things for the M low one hundred two hundred ratings Yes, and I never named law firms really although III do cite a couple of very positive examples in the book and there's nothing necessary about Deciding that a guy at the top of the firm or a woman at the top of the firm or frankly that's another problem with the profession the percentage of women in Equity partnerships in big firms throughout the country has been relatively stagnant at about fifteen percent for the last fifteen years There's nothing there's nothing that says inherently You know the person at the top has to make ten or twenty times more Than his or her lowest paid equity partner in the firm

We're not even talking about other lawyers in the firm We're talking about other equity partners And the firm's that have resisted that I think have found themselves to be generally more collegial places you know some of this is a function of a of an eat what you kill approach, which it's emphasizes Billings and Billable hours to the exclusion of everything else and once you have lawyers Fighting with each other over who's going to get credit for Billings because that's going to translate immediately into Compensation decisions you have a pretty destructive If not toxic culture is there an ideal Philosophy and culture management style that might counterbalance eat what you kill? There is it's called lockstep and for years It was the way, New York firms up virtually all top New York firms function and many of them some of them I should say not many of them some of them still do and you know they the places like Cravath Which I think for for many lawyers including me is really a gold standard of what a great firm is has had lockstep for Forever and it's a tough place, but at the same time You don't I don't think have a world where you have you know partners? You know there have been stories about partners in big firms and again I'm not going to name any of them, but there are some examples in the book and I want to name them on the podcast but They're examples of firms where partners within the same firm have actually pitched the same client for business from another partner That's that's absurd Institutionally, it's absurd Yeah, so such inter firm competition right for listeners say Can you describe a little bit of what lockstep is and why that would be a benefit to a client? Yeah Lockstep essentially says the most important Prerequisite to lock-step lest you think what I'm suggesting is that all firms ought to make everybody they ever hire equity partners who have an automatic path to the top of their firms I'm not suggesting that at all the first important prerequisite of lockstep is to maintain a very high quality Standard of the lawyers you admit into the equity partnership, so you have a you do have to maintain a high threshold And that's going to mean that not everybody you hire is going to make it into equity partnerships In the end of the equity partnership, but you would if you satisfy that essential prerequisite lock-step says That as you essentially age Moving through the firm you have a set pattern Set compensation that you're going to receive and typically you sort of you lockstep You know with with everybody in your class You've moved through the equity partnership up to a maximum You know income or compensation level, and then as you get older And everybody has a definition the different definition of what older means these days But you know in a well-functioning lockstep system somewhere when as if somebody probably entered their mid-50s I would say Certainly by 60 you would step you would certainly be stepping down So that you're continuing to make room for the next generation to move in and take over and become leaders in their own, right? That strikes me as a pretty healthy system, but you need a you need a unique culture to pull it off And it's very hard firms that don't have that system now Rich can find it impossible to try to transition to something like that particularly in an era where what you've really done Throughout many ranks are many many sectors of the profession Is put an increasing emphasis on lateral hiring you know hiring lawyers with big books of business because it's a-you know there's flat demand Essentially for big firms so you're trying to grow revenue that way So it's a you create these additional cultural obstacles I think to a to a lockstep system in firms, but you know yeah And Steve would you say? That and I'm gonna use terms that if I need to explain I can but like an open comp versus a closed comp system Do you see the benefits of? an opah comp or the benefits of a closed comp and how that might complement what we're talking about here – You mean open cap and closed cap in the context in a sense of people knowing what everyone's making right? That's an interesting question, and I'm not sure I know the answer to it You know I can kind of see both sides of that argument I think certainly with inequity partnerships there has to be a level of transparency Julien LaBeouf is probably the most recent dramatic certainly the most recent and most dramatic example of a firm where the absence of transparency was was stunning and took a tremendous toll ultimately on the firm itself but The the you know it's a tricky proposition You know when you drop down into the level of associates and so forth You know what's what's the right balance there in terms of making sure people understand where they are in Relative to their classmates, but at the same time not fueling you know really what I would call destructive Competition we wrestled with that one actually for a number of years

I was chairman of the associate review committee of Kirkland then and You know at the end of the day what you really need to be doing in at that stage in a lawyer's life is Really giving them accurate Good and bad information about how they're doing rather than simply playing the game of well, you know you're a body you're building we're going to make money off you and Then we're going to tell you at the end of the six seven eight or however many years It is well guess what you're not going to make partner so in order to encourage that kind of transparency Ideally what you would want at least among younger lawyers as you know after two or three years? You can't tell much after a single year, but after two or three or four years you you want them to know look? Here's the range in your class Here's where you are and here are your prospects That's just a matter it seems to me a fundamental fairness and human decency Insight Preet Yeah inside of your lawyer bubble I know that short-term thinking rewards people different ways versus you know where We're helping Basically it seems like that you're rewarding lawyers for personal gain and long term thinking What are the reward mechanisms you would want to have for long term thinking? Yeah? Yeah, that's a great question there, and and it's it's some of it You would think oh yeah of course what of course that should happen right, but I'll give you an example in in many Systems in fact I would argue that in the prevailing model for big law firms today What counts in your compensation decision are your Billings your billable hours your leverage? in other words the profitability of your practice and That then becomes your source of power in the firm well that's fine except Tell me how I measure the time I'm going to spend which time that someone spent with me mentoring me so that I could become a you know a partner of you know a well a well-regarded partner Capable confident, you know I tried cases all over the country well I couldn't have done any of that if I hadn't had mentors who were willing to say look you know I don't get paid I'm not getting any credit in terms of billable time or billable hours or revenues But I think it's important and valuable to the firm For you to become a better lawyer, and if you become a better lawyer Then clients are going to gravitate to you The whole pie grows and we all become better off, and that's a mindset that you can't create in someone They either have it or they don't But institutionally you can create incentives And one way you can create the in create incentives is by saying and this is what happened for many years at Kirkland Ellis We have a cap and the cap is that added in within an equity partnership

You can only get to You know this number and as I said in the case when I became an equity partner It was somewhere in the range of four times Whatever it was the lowest equity partner made So the only way and I had I had a very senior partner whose and it was an extraordinary trial lawyer still is I think Say to me look this is when he was recruiting me as a summer associate at Kirkland And he said to me said look He said my compensation is capped at you know this this level of share participation in the firm The only way I can make more money is to make you a better lawyer well, I think that that's that's the sort of mindset that if you can create it in terms of incentive structures within the institution you Have a better chance of pulling it off, but as long as you keep stretching it out you know as long as you keep stretching the gap between the highest and the lowest and Stretching out the time that it takes to be you know to make Equity partner in a firm you know it's all the all the incentive structures are moving in the wrong direction Yeah I can see that let's transition to another book that you wrote in 2010 which we would call a legal thriller called the partnership What was your process behind writing that book you're thinking Why did you write it? What led you to write it? I guess what led me to write It is you know one of my one of my friends when my good friends is Scott Turow and I believe yeah I as as a more famous person would said said to Dan Quayle Lloyd Bentsen said to Dan Quayle and in the Presidential debates, you know you're no Jack Kennedy I don't fancy myself any vice presidential debates It was Many years ago I don't fancy myself a scotch row but Scott was very encouraging of me in in help in basically Writing the first book which we may talk about as well, which is crossing off And I just sort of thought you know There's a way to tell a story about what goes on inside big firms that might? Become interesting to the audience at that point that I was interested in reaching and frankly the audience I was interested in reaching were undergraduates in an advanced course I was teaching at Northwestern in the legal studies department called American lawyers demystifying the profession and I couldn't really find anything That gave me a treatment You know John Grisham had written the firm, and I thought that was you know that was too harsh You know there you have the literally the law firm as a criminal enterprise And and I was I wrote it in large part because I wanted have something that I thought would be sufficiently engaging while retaining a sufficient Level of realism that I could ask the students in my class to read it and get their reactions to it because all of them Virtually all of them were tracking themselves to law school with no idea what what lay ahead and assuming that if they Managed to get into a big firm that was going to be the be-all and end-all as many many students still think And I wanted to at least present a different slice that might have them rethink some of the assumptions They were making about what they wanted to do if they went to law school Of course all of them all of them still went to law school and most of them most of them still struck You know we're still striving to to to get You know the best paying jobs which are at big firms because they need them in order to pay enormous Debt that they're coming out of law school schools, which is an entirely different subject terrible subject frankly And so that's how that that's how that came about yeah, and I just like to speak to the novel itself it is riveting It's fast pace for readers to consider especially and I'll just reiterate considering law school considering going into the private law practice It's a must read

It definitely just doesn't describe every law firm situation, but it definitely describes What's happening, and they eat what you kill law firm models these days, but that's that's very kind of you Chris I will say I did get a lot of response from From attorneys in big firms who said boy Thanks for writing this This is exactly right and it led me actually the same kind of process is what led me to publish to write and publish the lawyer Which first came out in hardcover in 2013 and as you mentioned? It's been updated For 2016 publication same idea there I couldn't find again for my class I couldn't find Really anything other than a sort of a collection of different different things that I try to you know mix and match together But nothing that was what I thought was a sufficiently balanced and factual as opposed to a you know screamer's You know you can find lots of disgruntled lawyers who left big firms and Then right screeds about how terrible it is and that's not really right I mean

I have to say I and I always preference all Of my presentations, and I done a lot of them You know whether they're law firms or or other places by saying I I love the practice of law there's nothing that I could have done with my life in terms of my career That would have been more satisfying or more gratifying than the career I took and The only reason I continue to write About some of the topics that I that still concern me about the profession is I think We've moved in the direction that we we haven't necessarily had to move to and it hasn't been hasn't made the profession better And I'm sort of hoping that that at some point the pendulum will swing back the other way And I think it might I think it might there was an article in the in the recent New York Times it talked about former federal prosecutors who were opting out of big law firm opportunities and instead Deciding to open their own smaller boutique firms for a better sense of culture and autonomy That all resonates with the next generation Yeah, it really does Let's talk about the book that you first started writing, and I personally haven't read I haven't read myself, and I'm very intrigued to read it crossing Hoffa There's some personal history here Can you share about that? Oh? Yeah, that's the first time I became an accidental author After my father died in early

I guess was 2001 I came across some of his materials that he'd kept all of his life it turned out and Dating back to his young adulthood and I had known growing up when I was a kid that He had always had what what we called in the family as his half a fight at the time my dad was a truck driver a teamster and member of the Teamsters Union in Minneapolis actually and Jimmy Hoffa this is the 50s and early 60s Was the most powerful labor leader in the world and? What what I wound up doing was I decided you know there might be an interesting Kind of piece of personal history here in terms of our family, and if I don't pull this together No one is ever going to be able to figure it out because at least I lived through enough of it even that you know I Was a small child to be able to piece through it and do the research that Frankly a litigator would do and trying to get the rest of the story put together the long and the short of it is the The the book the the the essence of the book the elevator speech if you will of the to sense Description of the book is that my dad was a truck driver? He launched an insurgency in Minneapolis local because the guy the business agent there was skimming union dues and He I'd add at this point believed on what he was hearing about Hoffa as a Crusader because this is all back before all the organized crime ties and all that sort of stuff came out about Jimmy Hoffa So he believed the rhetoric about my dad You know About half of being a crusader so he he launched this insurgency expecting He would get office full support turned out what my dad did not know even until the moment of his death forty years later Fifty years later was that Hoffa had put the guy put the crooked guy in charge And Hoffa came to town met alone with my father in a downtown Minneapolis hotel for four hours Told my dad to knock it off my father refused and for the next two years they tried to kill him sabotage his truck and death threats to the house and all that kind of stuff and My father who had his own checkered history because he had spent more than a year in what was then? America's worst prison in Angola Louisiana as a young man in his early 20s He didn't trust the he didn't trust law enforcement because you know he'd been beaten at the hands of full of cops before so he just what he disorder off he goes with the wife and His wife four kids and a dog on this improbable journey that That ultimately I don't have to tell you in a battle between Jimmy Hoffa and a truck driver who's going to win, but he did escape with his life, and we wound up We wound up You know surviving the ordeal and you know Hoffa wound up in jail and ultimately of course disappeared So anyway became it became a book only because I was writing this now we're back to Scott Turow again I was writing this sort of Chronology of family history and I was having breakfast with Scott one morning, and he said yes He said well, so what are you working on these days, and I besides your legal cases? And I told him and he said well, it sounds kind of interesting He said what how far into it? Are you and I said, I about 200 pages, and I gotta tell you he said you've crossed the Rubicon You know you you you you've got a book I said well, maybe I said tell me what I should do with he said well Send me the first you know send me a few the first 20 pages, and I'll take a look at it He took a look at it

He loved it, and he said and then he sort of guided me in the direction of a Publisher that might take a look at it and sure enough they did and I don't know where we go So fast that's how you retire by the way that's how lawyers retire you you you you wander into it you you wander into stuff because I still had a full practice of a Lot full-time practice with the law I wrote this book I tried to do the chapters are pretty short I tried to do a you know 5 to 10 page chapter each each weekend typically on Sundays and When I could I could I would squeeze out times to do research and so forth but This thing kind of got going and I said see this is this is fun And then I got to a point the crossover point here's the crossover point when you're a lawyer If there's something else you want to be doing and the phone rings and it's a client or something else involving a case and you're in your Irritated because you'd really rather be doing this something else which in my case was researching Jimmy Hoffa in 1959 and 1960 then you know it's time to think about what you should be doing next test maybe lawyer Is not enough try to be ahead of that curve That's not wait for people to cut you off at digit at a time Yeah, and Steve just to clarify did were you aware of your grandfather's history or? Was his father? No, well, I knew that he had what he called the Hoffa fight I knew that he for a time carried a small pistol that he strapped to Sometimes his his ankle and sometimes He wore you know shoulder holster I Knew that he got and I knew that we had a German Shepherd that That he bought for protection for when he was on the road, but the time this was all unwinding I was I was pretty young I was you know six seven eight, but I have right You know very vivid recollections of a lot of it Because I we were close very close from a from a very young age for me And I used to go for rides with him in the truck and that sort of stuff But I had no clue of the depth of the story I mean just to give you one and he didn't either To give you one example one of the things that was happening because while this insurgency was going on it was front page news in Minneapolis in the Minneapolis newspapers And the reporter who he was feeding information to about what was happening He didn't even he didn't know this but I discovered you know when in the course of writing this book After my dad was was gone That the reporter had actually been a half a mole Reporter was in the process of writing his own book about the Teamsters Union that reads like a press release for Hoffa and the Teamsters it was it was I just my jaw dropped when I came across those papers in the Minnesota Historical Society archives And you found these documents that your dad had in a safety deposit box after he passed He did it wasn't safety deposit It was just a small small metal box that he kept next to him that he called his treasure chest And I opened this thing up and inside were were his Union dues card his Union ID card a couple of letters that he had received from Hoffa personally after he had sent this stuff sent in his Complaint to Hoffa about the crooked business agent and some personal things relating to to To me and my siblings that we'd he'd kept just from when we were kids is his number one priority his life Ultimately became as children And so but it was uh it was just a fascinating exercise for me Sounds like a fascinating story definitely encourage listeners to find that book and everything that Steve has sharing on the podcast episode I'm going to put as links in the notes of it and on the website So if you guys are curious you definitely can find them where you can easily find them on Amazon or just type in Google Stephen Harper Thanks it just came out in paperback too ironically enough you know years later And they had to sell a large cubbies for covers first But it was uh it was at Chicago Tribune best book of the year, which is which is this testament to beginner's luck? I think more than anything else Definitely honor the Steve let's jump into a question

I mean so I imagine and I've met many Attorneys who have become authors what advice Would you give aspiring authors if you have something to say and you and you want to write it then write it? There are a lot of people who walk around And you know I encountered them all the time and say you know I have this idea for a book I have this idea for you know I have this idea That's fine great You write it do it You'll find out pretty early on whether you whether it's for you or not and if it's for you, then just just keep at it and In many ways it's become easier now in the world of self-publishing than it was You know 10 or 15 years ago you you're not you're not going to write a best-seller I've never I've never written the bestseller I've Drive written books that have done

Well They've been critically reviewed You know favorably and all that sort of stuff, but it's but if you really if you really enjoy writing And you really want to be an author the only way that you can Find that out is by actually making the time to do it And that's that's easier said than done because one of the casualties of the current business model for law firms generally And I don't think it's limited to big firms I think it's lawyers almost everywhere across the spectrum will tell you where do I get time for that? and you know the you know you're 24/7 now with iPhones and internet access and text messages you can't you can't really go away on vacation anymore Without you know risking some client getting mad at you over something if you're not available 24/7 so it's a challenge it's an extraordinary challenge But that's my advice is first of all just write the thing and then and then as you write it or when you write it See what you have when you're done the other thing you could do too is start smaller so if you have an idea about something And you want to write about it We'll try writing a column You know or an op-ed Or you know something along those my short story, whatever You know whatever your whatever your your deal is Just try it And if they were to write a column or not bed there have to they have to approach The publication to see if they would take it right that's right yeah, there you yeah And you can you know there all sorts of the law they'll all have submission guidelines Anywhere you go and there there are a lot of online vehicles too Whether it's fiction or nonfiction Depending what you're what you're doing My daughter's been writing a lot And she's she's found you know pretty good success as a you know in various you know doing she does short stories but If there's stuff out there that I just I don't even know what I don't even have a clue about all the different things that Are out there now, but they're their vehicles and avenues that you can express yourself if you want to do it Steve What books should be written that are not written yet? I know you're probably constantly thinking of writing ideas Whether you write them or someone else, but what books haven't been written yet that need to be written Well, there's a there's a book that that I'm thinking and this is this is really off off the topic different lawyers but There's a book that that I'm thinking about putting together and writing Based upon what's have been happening in the in the side and the ongoing saga of the Trump Russia stuff And it's there already

I mean, there'll be there'll be a zillion book deals out there by a lot of different people Journalists, there'll be presidential historians There'll be a lot of different approaches that people are going to take to however all this comes out in terms of the Trump presidency but I have a kind of I have a Focus that to me is is Is important relating to the whole question of what actually went on in terms of? Trump and Russia and so forth and not enough not in any kind of vitriolic or bipartisan or or Or not my partisan not not in any partisan sense, but just in a question in a in a lawyerly kind of question What happened and how did it happen and? and what are the facts you know just peace through all of it and then because it's so it becomes so complex and and There's so many distractions in the world, and I don't know if it'll I don't know if I'll ever it'll it'll happen But that's one thought I have the there's another book that I that's to be coming out that I read recently And Bradford, who who is uh? Who was a partner in a big law firm and she's also got a degree in? Psychology is writing a book called Positive professionals, I she let me read the manuscript recently and I think the ABA is publishing that I'm not sure when but probably within the next several months I assume and that's an interesting one because it's a it's a Book that really is directed to Help inform law firm leaders about the kinds of things they can do if you're not willing to just sort of Scrap the entire structure are there things that you can do at the margin Or maybe even a little bit further in front from the margin Penetrate a little bit more deeply that will actually make your law firm more efficient more effective You know she she assembles a lot of the growing body of research Relating to how important worker engagement and morale is to The effectiveness and efficiency and even the profitability of your organization, and that's true in spades and law firms Job, so that's that's one that could be I think people will find interesting That's excellent Steve What are some of your favorite authors or books? I? like to fill up Roth I read Reread again recently the plot against America which was fascinating for different you know into different context Brave new world I went back and revisited Did you yeah? Just just I'm not sure why I just I actually do know why one of my sons gave it to me for Christmas And I thought you know I need to read this or read it again I probably read it, but I'm old enough now that I can't remember when I read it the first time and Let's see right now, I'm reading I'm reading Sheroes latest book And I'm also reading Last hope Island which is a fascinating story of how? the various refugee Governments during World War two Went sort of in total from the various European countries To London and essential we set up shop it became a formidable formidable base of operations for various resistance efforts Led literally by the kings and queens of the countries who had fled from from which they had fled in London And it's a it's a it's an interesting historical It's an account I'm I'm sort of drawn to I tend to be drawn more to or nonfiction and fiction Is the lawyer in me, I think probably yes well Let's talk about that lawyer in you as it comes to teaching What kind of classes are you teaching as an adjunct professor at Northwestern right now right now the one the one I'm involved in is the Professional Responsibility course Which which is a sort of a related course to the trial advocacy class? I've been doing the trial advocacy class going back Gosh, I guess It's been 20 years now and about five or six years ago Maybe a little longer I guess I got promoted to the the professional responsibility slice of it I was teaching an undergraduate course that I described earlier although for for health reasons I had to stop that one a couple of years ago And I may return to that again, and that's about it

I'm kind of I'm I'm a one-hit wonder I guess when it comes to To teaching you know some of this stuff, but but it's but it's engaging and it's interesting and to me It's been interesting to watch the I guess you would call it the trend of students in terms of their attitudes about Lawyers and law firms and in the world as you as you encounter them because I have a long enough you know times Dynamic sense of what's been going on with the different generations, and there's a piece of it That's a little bit sad and I'll tell you and that's why I've sort of bad We're kind of back to where we started in a way The piece I mean It's a little a little sad is that the the evolution or maybe the devolution of? the big law practice in particular But I think it's pervasive and not limited to big law Into what I call the short-term business model of maximizing revenue and profits Is I think it's taking a toll in a funny way And I think what happens in the funny way that it's taking it to me is sad is that I think? a lot of students have Sort of systematically ratcheted down their expectations of what they wanted or expected in a law degree so if you look at surveys now you see it in the in the surveys of Young associates American Lawyer surveys and others where they say you know where do you expect to be? You know five years from now, and you know the vast majority of them say probably not where I am And there's something I don't know, maybe it's okay, maybe it's just a reflection of the increased mobility of society But I think it's a reflection of looking down the road and saying well look this firm hired 100 new associates and maybe Maybe five of us someday We'll make equity partner You know where's where's the enthusiasm Where's the energy to get yourself motivated to be part of that? pretty tough It definitely is tough And what's interesting is it creates a void for like the book you talked about whether in Bradford and what she's doing with positive professionals? Who has a hopeful perspective on the legal industry and where is that hope coming from there's definitely an opportunity? But it just because it requires a different mindset Maybe more entrepreneurial bonused Yeah, I think so in Alton but ultimately you know the in the long term some of these firms are going to create really big problems for themselves because If you continue to pull up the ladder in a way that doesn't Assure that you actually have a solid generation behind you that can assume the mantle of leadership Then who takes over and if you look at some of the recent studies that come out of Altman while You know there's a great deal of fear and concern Coming from leaders of big firms who don't know or are? Concerned about where the next generation of leadership will come from well

How do you suppose that happen? You know I mean, it's But well over I think it's the last number I saw it was 60 percent or something so they were fearful of leadership, but at the same time They're they're all going to crank up they're all determined to crank up and make tighter You know the more difficult the prospects for you know moving up through the equity partnership Well, that's that psychologists have a term for that It's called cognitive dissonance and Eventually those things do come home to roost They do in I think maybe I hope is is that the partners that? see the writing on the wall might either make internal change or spin-off and create a firm that does have lasting legacy and The systems to be able to continue growing and sustaining good client service well the other thing that'll happen is they'll die off literally and so the next generation ultimately it'll come to the next generation to To to save the profession really in that sense yeah, no I mean in I just interviewed Dean Daniel Rodriguez over at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and I mean he said you know our whole posture and Educating law students is to help them be disruptors of the profession And I just for him yeah, I think it's refreshing it's good to hear, okay, so You you brought it up briefly around You know a book topic, but I wanted to talk to you about you know how's retirement and what are you working on right now? Sure, well it turns out retirement Isn't really retirement at least for me It's not and I and it's not for a lot of lawyers I know the you know some some attorneys after they've spent 30 or 40 or more years You know practicing law are perfectly happy to say you know what leave me alone I'm gonna I'm gonna do leisure reading I'm going to hit the golf course two or two or three times a week And I'm just going to you know leave me alone and enough enough, and that's that's fine I don't I don't be crutch than that at all That's not something that I'm capable of doing so The writing of my first book sort of Szeged me gently Into sort of away from the practice as I say ice once I realized there was something more that was more interesting to me to do And I could actually afford you know financially to do it Then I just moved on to the next thing and that became the series of books that I've written my latest venture if he going to call it that Is also it's an offshoot of the blog that you mentioned earlier, which was I've been writing You know early starting in the middle of 2016 About concerns that I had about The rule of law is related to a potential Trump presidency a lot of people were concerned and a lot of lawyers spoke out you know when he attacked the the judge who was over his Trump University case and and Decried his so-called Mexican heritage Even though he was born in Indiana born and raised in Indiana and so forth so any what the long story short is What I've been doing lately is Trying in the midst of what has really been a lot of chaos to put it mildly Surrounding not just events in the world generally, but the Trump presidency in particular in particular I've tried to do what I can to keep straight a sequence of events or the sequence of events and it's extraordinarily complicated Relating to the issues of Russia interference with the 2016 election And there's so many different dimensions to it that what I ultimately wound up doing and in every litigator who? Has ever tried a case or put together a case will understand this approach And I put together it I'm trying to put together a comprehensive timeline and unlike a typical Case where you were you you're dealing with history because the whatever has happened is the reason the client is talking to you This story is still unfolding, and we don't even really know for sure where it's going to lead, but I've working with bill moyers People who have been outstanding and really helping execute the project I? Started writing a series of articles from lawyers earlier this year, and then ultimately we went into the timeline evolved into the timeline we're We're just trying to help keep the facts straight, and it's become I gather a fairly a fairly valuable resource for a lot of Journalists and and others and and just people who want to keep the facts straight about what it is That's going on in terms of the sequence of events again as they continue to be disclosed Relating to Russia's interference with the 2016 election and whether and if so to what extent any Anyone and anyone would trump involved in the Trump campaign, or his aides had anything to do with that and so forth again That's a stun I mean I can I can't begin to encroach on the ground that special counsel Mahler will follow But I think it's a story that I'm doing it for my own edification number one because I really want to understand this stuff I'm doing it number two because I think it's a story that's going to turn out to be really important for For democracy in America if you really do if you're really concerned that the right to vote matters, then you want to know if somebody's If a foreign power has attacked that and there's every indication at least from US intelligence Agencies that it did you want to know you want to know how that came about and what we're going to do about it In terms of the future, so it's to me It's a significant project and hopefully one that would be also useful in helping them helping just citizens who want to follow the story to try to keep track of it without getting lost in in the 24/7 news cycle of sound bites and shiny objects and Steve where can people follow you on this subject I know you mentioned was it dan Rather The best way to follow the Trump Russia timeline is that billmoyers

com Where we have it up It's they have it prominently displayed, and it's Updated every the pace of recent events I've had them updated You know several times a week But typically at least once a week we updated with the latest developments I updated with that stuff And they they make it accessible to people Dan Rather was dan Rather a couple days ago I was on and Dan Rather's America Which is a Sirius XM radio program? Was and she was interested in that so I couldn't he spent 45 minutes talking to me about it on his program So people are people I guess are paying attention to it which is gratifying You know you do things, and you kind of sort of like writing a book It's the same process right you do this and you put it out there, and you don't really know what happens You know at least when you're trying case in front of a jury you Look at them, and you can see them grimace if you said something that you know they don't like But you don't really know unless you hear back from people through Through comments or otherwise you know whether what you're doing is making any difference And I don't know if it's making any difference or not, but I'm it's making me feel productive and useful So that's good well And I would say you know grateful for you continuing to apply those litigator fact-finding skills to a situation as you said has been kind of Clouded and confusing and doing it with a little bit of the emotion removed that seems to be plugging Most social media channels and news wires

It's hard to take anything seriously what the slanted as things are these days so well That's to me That's the critical That's what's so important about the keeping the truck rusha timeline as far as I'm concerned pristine In its approach to facts so that every single entry I have links to you know truly credible verifiable factual news sources and Because the you know people get lost in the screaming and the and the worst thing you can do and every lawyer will tell you This too Whether you're dealing with a client or a judge or jury the worst thing you can do is is to undermine your own credibility By taking an extreme position and even worse an extreme position that turns out to be Factually dubious or even soft So I'm I've tried you know with again with kind of a litigators approach to try to be really careful and stuff has to you know owl down to things for a longer than a Some of the new services will hold it before they make my timeline because I want to see someone else report it you know Okay, the BuzzFeed may have it and maybe BuzzFeed has it right but I want to see some of the other than BuzzFeed come up with something or If you go to the other side, you know okay, bright bright bart has something well okay, Breitbart saying something But I'm not going to I don't want to use it Just because bright barks Let's see somebody Let's see corroborating evidence let's see triangulation and let's see something that we've got you know prove proven and provable facts before we Take the position as I am that the public reading this can believe me Yeah, thank you for sharing it Steve kind of enclosing and asking the last question what in life gives you meaning and purpose right now? oh That for me, that's always been a really easy one

It's my family I have Married to the same woman I met as an undergraduate in college More than 40 years ago, and that's not an easy feat for lawyers but we have three great adult kids and three grandchildren and it's to me that's always been they've always been the center of my universe the the practice of law can can swallow you and I have worked and my wife's been great at this actually as a support I work really hard not to let that happen to me So it served me well You know it's the old joke you know nobody ever on his deathbed ever said, I wish I'd spent more time at the office It's it's true, and you know you're you what you do as a lawyer is important I don't mean to underestimate that at all and everything we do as a lawyer is critical to our clients and sometimes It's even critical to democracy itself in the functioning of our system but at the end of the day if you you know everything becomes pretty personal and for me the the center of my world has always been my family yeah, yeah, well, thank you for sharing that Steve and Congratulations on 40 years Thank Steve It's been an honor

Thank you for your time today I really appreciate you being on the show My pleasure enjoyed it Thank you everyone who listened to this episode of the law firm leadership podcast if you have questions Or would like to recommend someone to be on the podcast Please email them to podcast at find the Lions comm if you like this podcast leave a review on iTunes also please share a podcast with others via email or social media to share our podcasts listen to more shows or to read the transcription of this audio or others go to line group recruiting com ford slash podcast Thank you for listening to the law firm leadership podcast this podcast is for Education purposes only this content cannot be used for commercial use without written permission from the lion group if you like this podcast Leave a review on iTunes

Source: Youtube


Like it? Share with your friends!

AJ

Choose A Format
Personality quiz
Series of questions that intends to reveal something about the personality
Trivia quiz
Series of questions with right and wrong answers that intends to check knowledge
Poll
Voting to make decisions or determine opinions
Story
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
List
The Classic Internet Listicles
Countdown
The Classic Internet Countdowns
Open List
Submit your own item and vote up for the best submission
Ranked List
Upvote or downvote to decide the best list item
Meme
Upload your own images to make custom memes
Video
Youtube, Vimeo or Vine Embeds
Audio
Soundcloud or Mixcloud Embeds
Image
Photo or GIF
Gif
GIF format