I am often asked to describe a Bast Amron attorney. When it comes to any of our employees, it’s hard to generally describe them. We encourage individuality and diversity, which we believe makes us a better, more effective organization.
That said, there are some traits we look for in our people, and those who exhibit such traits have found success at the firm and in their careers. These characteristics usually coincide with our firm’s core values – Care. Create. Communicate. Collaborate. Community.
In his book titled Setting the Table, Danny Meyer, founder of Shake Shack, said that an employee’s role is 49 percent task and 51 percent feeling, meaning if they are really good at the job they were hired to perform they get a 49%, a failing grade. To achieve a 100% (the other 51%), according to Danny Meyer, employees need the following qualities:
- Optimistic warmth (genuine kindness, thoughtfulness, and a sense that the glass is always at least half full)
- Intelligence (not just “smarts” but rather an insatiable curiosity to learn for the sake of learning)
- Work ethic (a natural tendency to do something as well as it can possibly be done)
- Empathy (an awareness of, care for, and connections to how others feel and how your actions make others feel)
- Self-awareness and integrity (an understanding of what makes you tick and a natural inclination to be accountable for doing the right thing with honesty and superb judgment)
Without knowing, we were already following this philosophy in our approach to recruiting and hiring attorneys. Thank you, Danny Meyer, for so clearly and concisely laying out what he called the “51 percent solution.” It has certainly helped in our hiring and retention efforts as we continue growing.
To start, a BA attorney must care; care about him/herself, the firm, the client, and the community. We call it “The Care Factor”. With that one significant trait, all else typically falls into place. Without it, not much else matters. If he/she doesn’t care, they won’t put in the time or effort necessary to be successful or lend to the success of the firm.
Next, we like to see attorneys who’ve worked outside of the practice of law, whether that’s during high school, college or law school. And we’ve found that usually those with experience in the restaurant industry seem to fit in best. Why? Well, working in a restaurant, a service industry just like the practice of law, is demanding, requiring long hours, teamwork, and service focused on the client. Successful employees in a restaurant aren’t focused on their personal comfort or well-being, but that of the customer. And that, in part, is what it takes to be a successful attorney; a positive interaction focused on the result. What’s more, when interacting with customers at a restaurant or clients at a firm, those employees/attorneys who are authentic and empathetic do best. Be a human being and remember, the clients are too; as are other attorneys, judges, and any other person with whom you interact on a daily basis.
Listen, we look for attorneys who have a certain level of intelligence and aptitude to handle the work (the 49%). But without the above, the intelligence and aptitude are meaningless. While we want those who are confident in their abilities, being humble enough to ask the questions and seek out confirmation of their position whether through additional research or asking a fellow member of the team (because they care enough to want the best possible outcome more than being right or doing it on their own) is more prudent and will achieve a better outcome for the client and the firm.
Above all, care and be a good person. That’ll take you a long way.
About the Author: Brett has been a litigator his entire career. He advises clients in complex business and bankruptcy litigation matters with an emphasis on director and officer liability, breach of fiduciary duty, partnership and shareholder disputes, fraud, and avoidance and recovery of preferential and fraudulent transfers. Brett represents court-appointed fiduciaries, trustees, receivers, corporations, shareholders, individuals, creditors’ committees, and secured and unsecured creditors.