Why Having Core Values Is Important

Lawyers, law firms, actually any business need to have core values that drive our decisions. We have to have the why we do what we do, and how are we gonna do those things? What is gonna drive our behavior and our decisions. And my firm, actually, it took us two days to sift through what are our true core values? Not what we want to be in the future, not what, yeah, we are, we do these things, but so does everybody else. But what is it about us that we do that makes us, us and that drives our decisions? And when we have to make our decisions, then we can go fall back on those. So for ours, we have three core values. One is we constantly seek to learn and improve. Two, we share what we learn with others. And three, we fight hard without being assholes.

So what does it mean to constantly learn and improve? It means that I always have to be learning and trying to get better. And I also have to invest. If I'm gonna have a firm, which I do, it means I have to invest my time and my money training my other lawyers so that they're constantly learning and improving. And not just my lawyers. All the people at my law firm need to be constantly learning, constantly improving, no matter how good I am. If the other lawyers at my firm, if they're not elevating, if they're not good, well we can't give every client the justice they deserve because the, the lawyer doesn't know what they need to know. So we go do that for the rest of staff. Every Friday at noon, we have our lunch and learns. And again, we're training, training, training, because that's our core value.

The second core value is we share what we learn. And that means that even if it's a competitor, even if it's a lawyer that will never refer us a case, we have to have an abundance mentality. And if we have a deposition, if we have a strategy, even if they're never gonna bring us in on that case, we need to share everything we know with them. And we have to really believe that and we have to live it, because that's one of the things that differentiates us from other law firms. The third is, and this is, I know there's a bad word in there, sorry. But fighting hard without being assholes. Because it's important to us that we fight hard, that we get every dime out of every case that we push to take those depositions, follow those motions, resist what they're trying to do.

But at the same time, we're not gonna be jerks about it. We're not gonna be rude. We're not gonna call people names, we're not gonna yell at people. And it drives decisions. So when you have your core values, it drives your decisions and you stick to them. And then it makes you a better firm. It gets everyone united to have the same values and you end up pushing your cases much better and having a much better culture. It's important to have the core values because that's what keeps you consistent over time. It's so easy to fall into, well, I'm tired of doing this. I don't feel like doing this today. For example, one of our core values that we constantly seek to learn, improve, that means every Friday we need to have training. And even if we don't feel like it, even if there's like a hearing I wanna do, or a trip I want to go on, well I gotta find someone else to do that training that day.

Because if we're gonna constantly seek to learn and improve, we have to do that. Do I wanna spend the money to send my associate to some C L E course that that person wants to go to? Well, my core values, we constantly have seek to learn and improve. That means I have to back it up and spend the money and put them there. So that's why having core values is important because that that's what drives your decisions. And when you're tired, when you're stressed out, then you go back and you look at what are those core values? What is it we should do to make us us? It's been four and a half years since my law firm came up with our core values. And it is a night and day difference in how our firm operates. We are now united behind a common purpose.

Everyone's pushing together in the same direction. And what's amazing is not only are we getting along better, but we're also getting more money more quickly on our cases because we are all pushing the same direction. And the fact is, not only myself, but the other lawyers at my firm are getting better. They are learning, they are improving, they're applying it to their cases, and then our clients are getting the benefit of those great results. So you may be thinking, well, how does that apply to me? Well, you have to find your core values. What is it that makes you unique that you really believe in? And trying to make it just three. There's a great book, uh, called The Advantage by Patrick Lin. He has a great process, how you can do a retreat with your team to come up with those core values. And what we did is we looked at like, what are the very best employees we've ever had and what made them so great?

And then we looked at who are the people that bathe this law firm better by leaving and what made them not so great? And then by doing that, we found out what is it that makes us different? What is it that makes our great people great? And how can we all all do that? And then we had to look at, is that something we want to do or is that something that we are already doing, that we're already believing? 

Because your core values have to be something you're already following, you are already doing, and you have to discover that for yourself. Because it's gonna be different for every firm. And if you try to live something that's not true to you, it's not gonna work. 

I highly encourage you to take the time, get out of your office with your leadership team, whoever the top decision makers are at your firm, and come up with your core values and start to follow them. It is amazing the changes that I've seen in my law firm in the four and a half years since we came up with our core values and committed to follow them. We have all come together to have a firm that exemplifies these values. 

It's more pleasant to work at, it's more fun to work at. But more importantly, our results have really caught up. We're getting a lot more money for ourselves and our clients. It's become a better place. I hope you do the same at your firm.

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