To really tell you what is special about our culture, we have to go way back to the beginning. When Kimberly Hanlon and Sommer Spector Angstman were starting Lucere Legal, they took stock of all the things they loathed about the legal industry, and how they wanted it to be better. The legal industry can be brutal – and not just in court cases.
Here’s a few realities in most law firms: you are expected to put the firm first, and inconvenient things like sick kids, aging parents, or even having a well-rounded life have to come (a far distant) second, or you won’t ever be on track to make it to the top of the firm. You are required to bill clients roughly 38.5 hours per week, at a minimum, which means you must work 70-80 hours per week since you can’t bill for everything you do. And, as an unintended consequence, you must find a way to bill for every minute you can when you get your hands on a case.
In most firms, you may or may not get to work in the areas of law that are interesting to you, and you rarely get to choose whether or not to work a case that’s been assigned to you. Some firms are competitive ecosystems, where everyone has to jockey for credit to get ahead. In those firms, competition trumps teamwork.
In this environment, its no wonder that women are grossly underrepresented at the top. At some point, most women (and some men) get thrown off the track to the top because they end up with divided loyalties – the firm on one hand, and the family on the other. When it comes down to it, the family usually wins, and once that happens it is very, very hard to get back on track.
So, many women (and some men) end up as second-class citizens in the law firms in which they work. Sometimes they soldier on, and many times they leave and focus on the family, or their aging parents, or whatever divided their loyalty with the firm.
We don’t believe that you must sacrifice your life to be a good lawyer. We believe that you can be a fantastic lawyer and family member at the same time. We believe that when your personal life works well, your professional life works well. Sommer says, “Happy lawyers make happy clients.” And she’s right.
We have totally thrown out the old law firm model, which doesn’t work for lawyers and doesn’t benefit clients, and designed something better. Here’s what we’ve done:
- Our attorneys can work as many or as few cases that work with their lives. We’ve done this by allowing our people to determine what case load works for them and matching their caseload with that level. Some people work a full-time load and others work three-quarter or half time.
- Our people determine what types of cases they want to work on. Some love litigation, and others don’t. Some like business and aren’t passionate about estate planning (and vice versa). When people get to work in the areas they are interested in, they love what they do and that translates to better representation for our clients.
- Our lawyers are empowered to choose whether they work on any particular case or not. This means that the lawyers on your case really want to be on it – they care about you and your case and are fully engaged in the process.
- We work collaboratively, not competitively, so our lawyers feel supported in a culture of community and our clients benefit from the diversity of perspectives and expertise.
- We do most of our work on a flat fee or fixed fee basis, so not only is there no incentive to run up the bill, there’s not the ability to do so.
In building this new law firm model, we’ve adopted technology to help make it work. Most of the time, most of our people work from home or on the go, so we use video conferencing for many of our intrafirm meetings (and even meetings with clients when they choose to meet that way with us). We work collaboratively, and it doesn’t work for someone’s case file to be sitting in paper form on one person’s desk, so we utilize electronic documents and cloud based shared files.
We are so passionate about what we’re up to in our firm, that Sommer wrote an article about it for With Equal Right magazine, the publication of MWL (Minnesota Women Lawyers). You can read it here.
We hope you like being a part of our firm culture, too!
We look forward to hearing from you!
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