From the Multnomah Lawyer: MBA Midsized Firm Partner Roundtable
Am I the only one scratching my head right now and wondering “why are we paying for all of this expensive downtown office space, when it turns out that our attorneys and staff are perfectly capable of working relatively efficiently from home?” Or, “how will my firm, and our clients, survive COVID-19 and mandatory stay at home orders?” Those are some of the candid thoughts that have been shared at the MBA’s Midsized Firm Partner Roundtable meetings.
For several years now, managing partners of midsized law firms (firms with 5-19 lawyers) have been meeting to discuss issues of importance to our firms. The group used to meet three or four times per year. In past years, we have discussed real estate - buying or leasing, succession and transition planning, generational differences (millennials vs. boomers), technology, and malpractice/excess coverage issues. For the past few years, my firm has hosted the roundtable, and we usually have eight to 12 participants per meeting. Our discussions tend to be organic and free flowing. Then again, we are a bunch of lawyers, and don’t seem to have much trouble finding topics to explore. The members of the roundtable also have access to a listserv.
With the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, the roundtable has transitioned to virtual meetings, via Zoom. Our attendance has blossomed, with over 20 partners joining our first virtual meeting. Now that we are several weeks into our new reality, some of the topics we discussed at the first meeting seem rather quaint. Our first virtual meeting was March 20. That was the Friday before Governor Brown issued her “Stay Home, Stay Alive” order. While some firms had begun transitioning to remote work, many of us were still working somewhat regular hours in our offices. As the crisis has evolved, so have the topics we are discussing.
The roundtable offers the group the opportunity to share ideas about how to manage our way through this current crisis. Topics have included remote access technology, mail delivery services, preserving staff and attorney morale, and COVID-19 related legislation. The participants in our roundtable come from a variety of practice areas - business, litigation, IP, employment, family law, real estate, and banking. We haven’t gotten too deep into longer term questions - like my question about real estate. But I suspect that issue will be on our agenda when we return to “normal,” whenever that happens. During these uncertain times, my impression is that having a group of similarly situated colleagues is particularly helpful.
Our roundtable has, for the time being, decided to keep meeting on a regular basis. Meetings are for whoever is available, and currently take place on Fridays, from 10-11 a.m. Kathy Modie manages the listserv, and we are happy to add new members to our Friday virtual roundtables. Feel free to contact Kathy at email@example.com to be added to our listserv and roundtable. Hopefully this continues to be an avenue to share our experiences and some helpful ideas for managing our way through this difficult and unprecedented time.
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