Case for the people

Robert D. Hays was thrilled when his employees defended their
flag football title this past season. While he was happy to see people at King & Spalding LLP having fun and building relationships
with each other, he wouldn’t have been so enthused if that was
done at the expense of the clients.

“It’s work hard and play hard, and when you’re a high-performing organization, that’s sometimes hard to do to remain both
high-performing and also have a collegial, collaborative, fun environment because there are businesses that are one or the other
but not both,” he says.

It’s this dual expectation that has gotten the law firm where it is
today — 2,000 employees across 10 global offices, which collaboratively earned around $600 million in revenue last year.
Everywhere he looks, success is obvious, but beyond the numbers, Hays often asks clients why they chose his firm when they
have so many options, and they consistently say it’s because of
the people.

“They often say it is because you will give us world-class legal
work, and we enjoyed the relationship, and we like your people, and we think you’re able to maintain perspective and a
sense of humor,” he says.

When clients are happy, they’ll continue coming back, so as
chairman and managing partner, Hays recognizes that the only
way for this to not only continue but also grow is to hire
increasingly better people and have those people build
stronger client relationships.

“They’re all personal relationships in this business,” he says.
“It’s people in the organization and interfacing with people outside the organization.

“It begins and ends with people — that’s all we are.”