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Values, Culture, and the Flourishing Law Firm

Written by Allison Wolf

When I started my career in legal services in the late 1990s, law firm culture was something amorphous that no one quite had a handle on. Prospective hires would often ask what the law firm culture was like and the answers would include such things as we get together every Friday afternoon for drinks in the boardroom. We work hard and play hard.

In truth, most firms had no real sense of what their culture was all about nor why it was worth spending time on this. When misunderstood, culture becomes a blunt instrument for quashing diversity and inclusion at a law firm. Conversely, when culture is understood and nurtured, it can become a source of tremendous energy across an organization.

What is law firm culture?

The foundational values shared by members of a law firm help form its culture when these values shape decision-making, policies, compensation, service standards (and more). Values are the ends you pursue. They are core principles. By way of example, my organization’s core values are integrity, transparency, confidentiality, helping, and inclusivity.

Culture also takes shape by weaving values into all aspects of the law firm. Further, cultural norms also define what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted, or rejected within a group. When properly aligned with personal values, drives, and needs, culture can unleash tremendous amounts of energy toward a shared purpose and foster an organization’s capacity to thrive.

A firm’s strategy sets out goals and the means for reaching them. Culture motivates and empowers members of the firm to carry out a firm’s strategic plan. Culture also contributes to retention and differentiates your firm from that law firm across the street.

We need more strong law firm cultures.

The time is now

The time has come to become intentional about the values you aspire to at your law firm as the foundation for the culture you are building. Culture building is a crucial action to take to establish a flourishing law firm.

For the full in-depth article and discussion, you can read it here.

About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.

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