Stephanie Resnick promotes team building in the litigation department at Fox Rothschild Featured

8:00pm EDT October 6, 2010

If you’re going to play on Stephanie Resnick’s team, you need

to have a good grasp of what she means by “team.”

When Resnick talks about the 170 attorneys she oversees as the

litigation department chairman at Fox Rothschild LLP, she frequently talks

about how every person’s role plays into the overall success of the

organization. All attorneys who work with Resnick need to be willing to not

only carry out their own day-to-day tasks, but work well with others, forming a

strong support structure that empowers everyone and enables Resnick’s

department to achieve high levels of efficiency, along with a positive work

environment.

Smart Business spoke

with Resnick about how you can build a culture of teamwork at your business.

What are the advantages to building a teamwork-oriented

culture?

I think it’s really important to be a part of a team, and

that’s how I view my leadership style. The cases I handle are often cases I

handle with other partners and associates, large, high-profile commercial

cases. So we function as a team, and it’s the same way I run the department.

The other thing is, I do delegate. It is important to delegate and back up the

person you’re delegating to. So if you’re going to delegate to a certain

person, for instance there is a manager in litigation, I want to support her

decision. It’s maintaining a very collegial and cordial atmosphere and, at the

same time, get business done.

What are the keys to building a culture of teamwork?

No. 1, you have to lead by example. The worst thing you can do

is make demands on associates and others and not be picking up the load

yourself. That’s why it’s very important to walk side by side with the people

you are working with, so that you are functioning as a very effective group as

opposed to a hierarchy. I am not into hierarchical structures, and I don’t

think they work very well. So you need to get the input of the people you work

with. The partners and associates in our litigation department know they can

come to me about anything, and they know we’ll work through the problem or

whatever the situation is.

I am very results-oriented from a problem-solving standpoint.

I believe issues should be resolved as opposed to just hanging out there,

leaving someone in the lurch and letting them resolve it themselves.

How do you build a teamwork mentality within people?

I have been here at Fox Rothschild for 24 years. I have been

blessed to come to the place where we have, in practice, an atmosphere of

collegiality and team building. And throughout my tenure here, just as others

have reached out to me, I have reached out to others. That is how we have

evolved as a firm culturally.

For instance, individuals who may have come from a different

firm with a different set of cultural guidelines, may prove themselves to be a

problem in the event that they are not respectful and don’t treat associates as

part of a team, as opposed to workers and those sorts of things. How we and I

have run the litigation department is very much a team-oriented approach. We

have 15 offices in eight states, and essentially any associate or partner may

be working on a matter within a different office cross-coast. We frequently

exchange our cases and staff throughout those 15 offices with individuals from

other offices. We do that because our team has been seamless. In a seamless

company, everyone has to feel like they’re part of a team and working toward a

common goal.

How do you encourage collaboration among employees?

It is so important for everyone to have that accessibility.

People know that they can come into my office and talk to me. I am somewhat

crazy, because I’m juggling 18 different things in the practice as well as a

number of other things apart from litigation at Fox Rothschild.

It is very important for people to see that you’re interested,

that you have a vested interest in their success. The success of your people

ultimately reflects very positively back at you, so we as a firm and a

department are very open to assisting younger lawyers trying to develop their

practices, to partners trying to develop their practices. I very much focus on

associates and really suggest that they also get out there and give back to the

community, because that is something they’ll get back tenfold, and it’s also a

way of meeting others, networking and starting their practice.

As a leader, you want to give people face time because it

makes them feel important, like you have a million things on your plate but

you’ve made them a priority. That is a very natural thing to want, because when

people are working hard, they want to feel like they’re validated, and they

should feel that way.

How do you ensure that you are always making time to engage

your associates?

I never let anything get between me and that. We have very

stressful calendars and cases, and all litigators know that, because we have

the very same schedule, that time is precious, and we often jam it with a

million different things. But if you proceed and carry yourself in a way in

which you’re communicating the fact that you are out there and walking around

the hallways, you can make those connections, and that can be really huge to

your success.

How to reach: Fox Rothschild LLP, (215) 299-2000 or www.foxrothschild.com