HInt: it’s not how many hours they bill; in fact, we’ve studiously avoided setting a target number of billable hours.

Another Hint: it’s not following the sage advice (for associate survival in BigLaw) given to me by one of my hardened BigFirm associate cronies: "Don’t Panic and Assume Nothing"

Instead, to quote from the memo we gave our new attorney on our expectations (and then sat down with them to discuss):

Your success, like that of every other person at Confluence, is judged on your contribution to increasing the firm’s net profits over the cost of producing high quality legal services.

Check out the memo in its entirety after the jump:


TO:                 [Our Great New Associate]     

FROM:           David Bohrer

RE:                 Expectations

DATE:            August 16, 2011      

Now that you’ve had a couple of days to begin to transition into our merry band, I hope you’ve begun to understand both the great opportunity and significant challenges presented by our model for delivering legal services. We love the fact that you’ve joined us. Because we want you to succeed, please allow me to share our current thinking on the key expectations related to your position as a Confluence attorney.

On a personal note, please understand that as Confluence’s founder I have made many mistakes in the course of developing our business model and no doubt will make many more.   This comes with the territory. To rephrase and mash-up a couple old saws, there is much wisdom, and probably a few extra gray hairs, borne of this pain. But, more importantly, the experience has both validated my core vision that high quality legal service may be delivered in a way that better aligns the interests of counsel and client (while at the same time allowing counsel to receive fair compensation for these services), and greatly focused my understanding of the practical steps necessary to implement the vision.

Turning now to our expectations, the primary goal is as follows:

·       Your success, like that of every other person at Confluence, is judged on your contribution to increasing the firm’s net profits over the cost of producing high quality legal services.   We will mentor you as best we can about the connection or lack thereof between a particular activity and our financial goals, plus we will make the relevant metrics as transparent as we can.

Our additional expectations, each of which in our view contributes to achieving the primary goal:

  • Our clients must always be delighted with our services, yours included.
  • Demand of yourself the highest level of performance on every single thing you do. We like people who take great pride in whatever work they are asked to perform.
  • Make those around you better at what they do.
  • You must know and be able to effectively communicate the core features differentiating Confluence’s model from that of our competitors – better yet, your belief in what we are doing should ooze from every pore.
  • Play hard and play to win – our clients rightfully expect nothing less – but never, ever lie or misrepresent what you know to be the truth.   Our profession is only as strong as our collective commitment to the highest ethical and professional standards. You are expected not just to know and comply with these standards but to exceed them. 
  • Receive continuing legal education, at least once a quarter, on a subject matter that will contribute to your ability to handle your then existing case assignments more effectively.   We are paying the fees and costs for such activities as described in your offer letter.
  • Prepare within 30 days a brief summary of proposed personal marketing goals and implementing steps. We will mutually revise and finalize the draft, which will be placed on file with the expectation that you will initiate a meeting on a quarterly basis to review your progress and update the plan accordingly.

Let’s sit down at your earliest convenience to discuss these expectations. If you have any questions, I want to address them as soon as possible. If you think changes need to be made, I’m open to anything that will increase net profit margins and/or lower operating costs.