Molding minds

Dan Rabbitt wants data —
as much of it as he can

Rabbitt, a founding principal
of law firm Rabbitt, Pitzer &
Snodgrass PC, likes to keep an
eye on what his employees are
doing, and weekly work summaries, monthly evaluations
and mentoring programs all
help him monitor the development of his younger employees.

“Most of us have been
blessed with a good memory,”
he says.

But there are times when
memory isn’t enough at the 42-lawyer, 100-employee firm,
and that’s when the data
comes in handy.

Smart Business spoke with
Rabbitt about how to make
sure your employees are doing
things your way.

Q. How do you attract
quality employees?

We attract lawyers because
they get into court sooner than
they do at most other firms.
It’s nothing for our new
lawyers to be arguing a motion
the first or second day they’re
here as a licensed lawyer.

We have a deposition checklist. When they first start taking depositions, we go over
how they should be done,
what should be covered, and
we ask them periodically to
give us the best deposition
they’ve taken and have the
other associates critique it.

It’s amazing how they can
come up with things their
cohorts missed. It’s a constant
learning process. It’s not just
because you’ve got your shingle up on the wall that means
you can do everything you want to do — we want to
know what they’re doing, how
they’re doing it, and we want
to be sure that it’s done the
best way and our way.

Q. How do you let employees
know what’s expected of

It starts at the top and goes
all the way down. The first orientation meeting with new
lawyers, we say, ‘Here’s what
we expect of you.’

When they’re new, we have
more regular meetings.
Generally, we have quarterly meetings with the
whole staff. We have
continuing legal education programs, including
an in-house program
that’s approved by the
Missouri Supreme

So we all take turns in
presenting different programs, and part of that
is we talk about the
clients, as well.

For example, next
Monday night I’m scheduled to lecture to all the
lawyers on ethics, the
profession, the do’s and
don’ts, and the code of
professional responsibility, and make sure they understand all facets of it and
adhere to it.