There once was a lawyer named Fred who, although often described in his firm as the absent minded professor, also possessed an amazing grasp of the law and probably a photographic memory. Fred was always behind on entering his time and billable hours and frequently late to return clients’ calls or review briefs drafted by his paralegal. Many who knew of Fred’s administrative transgressions scratched their heads in confusion wondering why the Managing Partner, well aware of the firm’s biggest bottleneck, didn’t fire Fred. But, she didn’t fire Fred. Instead, the firm doubled-down their efforts to assist him in hopes of expediting work – and Fred humbly expressed appreciation and willingness to improve. He was, after all, a likeable guy.
Apps were installed, software was purchased, accountability partners were assigned, workflows were tweaked, and blocks of time were reserved with the goal of helping Fred. Yet, as you have certainly guessed, his promises to comply became just another hollow commitment and his poor Paralegal, Fran, could be found at her desk most every morning feverishly scratching off lotto tickets before the day began.
Florence, the Managing Partner at Fred’s firm, Arger & Groll, called a meeting with him one Monday morning. Several resentment-filled colleagues busied themselves preparing Fred’s pet-fish for what promised to be a rapid departure. Imagine their surprise – some might admit…disappointment, upon realizing the meeting was quickly adjourned and seemingly on a positive note. The pair exited the conference room amongst convivial conversation and Fred offered his heartfelt thanks to his boss before each headed off back to their desks.
The next development addressing Fred’s productivity occurred a few days later at the Firm’s staff meeting. “Virtual Brenda,” a Legal Traffic Coordinator, was introduced as Florence’s latest brainchild. The rather jaded colleagues had to admit she possessed professional polish, was articulate, and projected confidence from her tidy home office visible in the Zoom screen. They learned Brenda brought with her vast experience including 8 years in the Navy serving as a Paralegal and another decade working in private sector law firms in various operational roles. Florence explained Brenda would be working as a 1099 contractor serving the group virtually and part-time. Brenda would leverage her legal background and knowledge to successfully route documents through the necessary channels and electronically usher files across the proper desks. A structured deliverable timeline would serve as a foundation to ensure a project’s on-track delivery and the completion of work. Florence stated with optimism, “My hope is, with Brenda’s help and constant eye on timelines, we’ll experience a significant decrease in workflow bottlenecks and costly missed deadlines.”
Lastly, Florence shared that cooperation with Brenda’s efforts, including responding to her questions or requests within 24 hours was both essential and expected. There were few questions as the meeting came to a close since most in attendance received the announcement as largely geared towards Fred and his issues. This was, from their vantage point, the latest in the firm’s search for “WMD” (Weapons of Mass Disruption) to help Fred do his job.
Will Brenda be successful? Will Florence lose face over her commitment to adding another cook to the kitchen? Will Fred improve or get fired? Return next week to learn the answer to those questions and more at The Law Firm of Arger & Groll, LLC.