I enjoyed this look at how differently “work” is defined inside and outside of law firms, but I also suspect it raises much more troubling points too –
“Perhaps law firms are too stingy characterizing things as work. Maybe tending to the career development of folks around you is worth doing. Maybe business development efforts are worth undertaking. Maybe firms should value certain things for which the firm is not paid.
But firms don’t.
And corporations do.
It’s true, law firms in general put value on things that get billed to clients, and pay a lot of lip service to other things, but don’t hold them in nearly as high regard.
To some extent, I also believe that holds true of people. Developing good staff is not a strength for many law firms. Spending time listening to new ideas, bringing about change, innovating, etc. is not billable time. As Mark says, might as well be on vacation for all that time matters to the firm.
We’re all slaves to the billable hour though, and everything else is just fluff. Fluff that every other organization in the world values, and pays people to do, but law firms only really do begrudgingly.
True innovation and efficiency doesn’t work that way, and firms are finding that out. Some will, unfortunately, find that out the hard way, when clients leave for firms who do value the business side of the law.