Who says lawyers can’t be cool?
Law firm professionals aren’t just about stuffy boardrooms that smell like must and mold. They don’t just dine at stiff five-star restaurants.
One way lawyers branch out in cool is by brunching and lunching in casual ways. Kara Ohngren wrote an article for Entrepreneur Magazine about “How Entrepreneurs at 10 Cool Startups Spend Their Lunch Hour.”
And, law firms can take a leaf from the successful pages of these start-ups.
Like start-ups, “maximizing productivity is a must, but working straight through your lunch break and eating a chocolate bar “al desko” may not be the answer,” explains Ohngren.
“Whether it’s critical team building over organic fare, a heart-pumping workout or just some quiet time alone, a mid-day break can refuel and refocus you and your team.”
That’s just what professionals at small firms should do.
Because attorneys often have more generalized responsibilities at small firms—where there are just a few junior associates per partner—managers should combat this lonely, overwhelming, and stiff environment by building a more friendly and open corporate culture. They can do this by, for example, offering lunch roulette.
“Lunch Roulette works in four simple steps. Participants select a date—or dates—when they are free for lunch and choose one of the company cafeterias they’re willing to travel to. They then click a ‘Match Me’ button, and a lunch date and calendar reminder are emailed to their mailbox,” explains Sylvia Ann Hewlett for the HBR Blog.
“After that, all they need to do is show up with an open mind and a willingness to network.”
Christopher Tan, a marketer with an interest in mobile technologies and experience building applications at BIPI, as well as one of lunch roulette’s founders, described the benefits of the system, saying to Hewlett, “Some people are actively using it to network.”
For law firm professionals, it’s also a great way to learn about other legal practices or departments within your own firm.
“I never thought that law would affect people in R&D,” Tan remarked after one of these roulette lunches.
“It was interesting to see how close our worlds are, even though we think we’re doing separate stuff.”
Lawyers can catch up on the latest in human resources, within family or patent law, or even among professionals at different levels, paralegals vs. partnership.
Nevertheless, don’t go overboard. First team-building lunches, then casual Wednesdays, leads to champagne Friday… what’s next?
“Today, a tipster sent us a link about another Biglaw partner who has been charged with providing alcohol to her teenage daughter and some of her daughter’s friends…at a New Year’s Eve party,” reports Above The Law (italics added).
It’s tempting to follow the footsteps of young, cool entrepreneurs. Law firm partners are likely parents, and who wouldn’t want to be “cool”? But, with maturity comes great responsibility.
Although your firm should pay attention to today’s trends—like casual dress everyday, high floating offices, hooded office chairs, inter-office skate parks, or slides in the workplace (yes, really)— remember that not all of them are a good fit for the law.
So, what’s on today’s menu? Ways to be cool and also more productive, starting with lunch.