Doubtful Sarkozy Looks Abroad To Model Economic Policy, But Why Your Firm Should Reclaim Its Internal Pride

If you’re already bored of monitoring the presidential race in America, just look across the Atlantic for additional politics, postulating, and campaign problems.

In France, President Sarkozy is making headlines for his election tactics. Today, Mr. Sarkozy, likely a candidate for re-election, announced a surprising proposal—the desire to implement an economic model based around the German one. The announcement sent French press abuzz.

Le Monde laments, “Having fallen behind in the polls, he has decided to form a campaign duo: now it is he and Angela Merkel, and France and Germany. And two is so much better than one. Since the financial crisis of last summer, which nearly destroyed the Eurozone, Nicolas Sarkozy has made Germany the only argument and the sole reference in his campaign. [But] France is not Germany and there is no situation where only one policy is possible. The election campaign is there to prove it.”*

Le Figaro accolades, “It is difficult to ask voters to tighten their belts in a period of crisis, and much more effective to ask them to follow the example of a country which is clearly the most successful in Europe. The French are much more likely to be swayed by this argument: never before has Germany had such a high public approval rating.”*

And, finally, La Croix pinpoints, “Is there a such a thing as a model country, a perfectly mature political system, or an ideal economic orientation that has the capacity to transcend borders, cultures and mentalities?”*

Running a country is not unlike managing a law firm: Fiscal organization is complex, new players are always clamoring to get to the top, and any attempt at change is considered controversial.

It’s easy to point at a neighboring firm and ask, “why isn’t our first-year associate base salary as high?” or “why doesn’t our firm pay annual bonuses?”

Both firms and France should take note that no two institutions are alike. And, therefore, no two policies can or should be identical. Although using a comparison to set an institutional model is valuable, don’t fall victim to copycat syndrome.

When setting associate wages, ask first: how much can your firm realistically afford? How far below market rate is this base? And, what mentorship opportunities or benefits do you offer that make up for any salary deficiency?

When asked to lower your billable hours by clients, reflect first: are competitors offering lower prices because of inferior service? Does your firm’s collective expertise exceed that of seemingly similar law firms?

Trending the competition and gauging the market is important in business. However, in today’s recession, companies are increasingly individualizing their services. Law firms offer contingency and alternative fee arrangements to their clients, and part-time hours and flex scheduling to their associates.

It’s time to individualize your internal policies. Investigate those that work best for your firm.

Hire outside consultants, if necessary, to conduct an analysis that is unique to your business needs. In the end, it’s likely that the most popular policies and operational procedures will come from cultivating ideas that come from within.

Back in 2007, President Sarkozy once believed, “If living in France bothers some people, they should feel free to leave a country they don’t like.” Firms should be inclined to feel the same way.

-WB

*From Presseurop, “Sarkozy fascinated by German model,” 2 February 2012 [LINK: http://www.presseurop.eu/en/content/press-review/1473991-sarkozy-fascinated-german-model]

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