Nurturing your culture Featured

8:00pm EDT July 26, 2008

With six decades of tradition backing Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP, Thomas W. Turner has a lot of reputation to uphold.

“Your overall reputation is the threshold that, if it is not surpassed, you are not even going to be given serious consideration,” says the law firm’s managing partner. “It’s critical to have a solid reputation, not only in terms of competence in your given field but also in terms of being a company that has heart and soul.”

Turner’s business law firm has more than 200 employees and posted 2007 revenue of more than $50 million. The firm serves local, national and international clientele, and Turner says that devotion to the firm motivates employees to make the organization as good as it can possibly be.

“Employees recognize how passionate we all are about doing a good job,” he says. “And that inspires them to do more of the same.”

Smart Business spoke with Turner about how he sets a good example at his firm by being down-to-earth, accessible and friendly.

Set the right tone. The philosophies, the attitudes and the approaches that are established and exhibited by the leader of a company ripple down throughout the organization. It all starts at the top, so it’s important to set the right tone in the way that you approach things.

 

Applications of that philosophy are many and varied. It’s important to be completely professional, prepared and technically competent, but you need not be overly formal about your approach to work.

Be real. You need to be down-to-earth, accessible and friendly. If you’re not, that’s not the kind of tone that lends itself to a happy work environment. Take your work very seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.

 

That ties in with bringing a sense of fun to work. We spend too big a chunk of our lives here to carve it out as a time of only seriousness and no enjoyment. I like to bring a sense of humor to the office; it’s just an attitude, keeping an eye on the quirky, interesting and amusing aspects of things that are going on throughout the day, and sharing that with the folks around me.

Keep the tone light and enjoyable while maintaining the level of seriousness and focus that you need to bring to task.

Show respect. Be genuinely respectful and considerate of everyone around you. That principle was inherent in the way our firm’s founder, Alec Cory, approached his life, including his work. That focus and that set of values has rippled down and affects all of us here.

 

It attracts and helps us retain the best attorneys and best employees. It has helped us develop and continues to help us maintain and nurture a fabulous firm culture. People enjoy working here, and as a result, people want to come here to work.

Make fairness a priority.
You need to think fairly, act fairly and be fair in the way that you approach your work and the people around you. It’s how you address matters and the way that you treat people.

 

It’s thinking not in terms of what’s going to give to you an immediate benefit but in terms of what’s going to be fair to everyone that is involved. We treat each other fairly, with respect and with genuine consideration.

You don’t send a memo out to everybody saying, ‘You will henceforth treat everyone fairly and with respect.’ What you do is treat everyone fairly, with respect and consideration, and you expect that of those around you, and — guess what — all of a sudden, the whole firm is acting in that fashion.

Hire well-rounded staff. Our attorneys are not only focused on a specific, narrow technical area but have a broader perspective on the practice and on life. We like people that have a variety of different interests and different business backgrounds.

 

It adds a tremendous variety of perspective that is applied in many different ways. It really makes us bigger-thinking, and therefore, we’re able to offer a broader perspective to our client.

Communicate your vision. We try very hard to make sure that everybody understands the bigger picture of where the firm is going so we all have an alignment with that vision. We try to make sure that everyone genuinely feels they are a part of it so there is real buy-in.

 

There is a good amount of communicating and a good amount of preaching, and those that believe will stay on board. There really is a self-selection process: Those that are comfortable with it will be attracted and will be retained.

Adopt a forward-thinking viewpoint. My father-in-law is a sailor, a lawyer and a philosopher, and he tied those three aspects into this piece of advice for me: Look to the horizon, but don’t be too shortsighted.

 

Don’t get up hung up on quarterly or even annual performance, but make sure the ship is headed in the right direction. If you look at a shortsighted perspective, you are likely to achieve shortsighted positive results, but you’ll miss the boat in terms of the long-run performance and the character of the company.

We evaluate performance on a regular basis here, but we’re constantly taking a look at the industry trends, competitors and evaluating what moves we need to make to continue to head to the right point on the horizon.

I don’t think that it’s particularly difficult to do; it’s just part of the position.

HOW TO REACH: Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP, (619) 238-1900 or www.procopio.com