Law Practice Management

Bullying abounds at BigLaw firms, but it often goes unaddressed, survey finds

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Man bullying coworker

Bullying is rampant at law firms, but many law firm leaders are reluctant to punish the offenders, according to a new survey.

Ninety-three percent of surveyed leaders at the nation’s top 100 law firms reported bullying at their firms (sub. req.) reports. The survey authors, legal-search executive David Parnell and law-firm consultant Patrick McKenna, covered the results here.

The survey received responses from 124 law firms, including the nation’s top 100 law firms. Among the AmLaw 100 firms, there was a three-way tie for the most common detrimental behaviors. Ninety-three percent cited bullying and lack of respect; not being a team player and having a “me-first” agenda; and poor management habits such as getting in on time.

At all of the surveyed firms (including those outside the AmLaw 100), the most common problem, cited by 89 percent, was bullying and lack of respect. But 41 percent said reluctance in confronting bad actors had delayed action, and 22 percent said the discomfort was strong enough to prevent leaders from addressing the problem altogether.

Many law firm leaders were confronting the problems, however. Fifty-nine percent had cut a partner’s compensation because of bad behavior in the last five years, and 52 percent said they had asked partners to leave in the last five years because of poor conduct.

Parnell and McKenna suggest that firms set up clear rules to address such behavior, create a committee to deal with discipline, and make good behavior part of the compensation system.

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