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Succession Planning: A Review of the...
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Book review: The Highest Goal
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Law Firm Culture: What Doesn't Kill...
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Six Degrees of Separation
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Top 40 Corporate Counsel: Under 40
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Lexpert 1999-2000
Lexpert 2001
Lexpert 2002-2003
Lexpert 2004
Lexpert 2005
Top Talent: Building the Bionic Lawyer (Feature) - Jan 2004

Not Superman mind you (or at least not yet), but in our recent research and assessment of top talent lawyers, we began to wonder just how far we might push the envelope on talent. What differences might it make, for example, if we were to take one of the legal profession’s intelligent, articulate, successful, ambitious and creative self-starters and ramp up his or her physical strength, endurance and general packaging?

Why not find out? First we approached an ideal candidate, someone who was willing to complete a full set of aptitude and personality assessments (EQ-i, creativity, personality, etc.) that would set off all the signage of “high potential”. Secondly, he or she must have a strong track record (from childhood) of achievement. Finally, he or she must have just a few rough edges (i.e., be a diamond in the rough) that we could cut and polish.
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Building the Bionic Lawyer - Conclusion (Feature) - May 2004

Trip Dorkey’s overall makeover success is in about the 80th percentile of his stated goals. On the positive side, he exceeded his fitness goals and has been successful in carving out a regular fitness routine from what seemed at the outset an almost impossible schedule (work, political and social demands).

He works out with his personal trainer Delana Hubscher every Monday and Friday. “His discipline in getting here every week and his commitment to giving it his all is truly impressive,” says Hubscher. Dorkey can also be seen in the spinning studio of the New York Athletic Club every Tuesday and Thursday at 7 am. Additionally, he picks up one to two yoga classes a week. Hubscher adds: “Overall, his strength and flexibility have improved significantly.”
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Underperforming Partners: The Big Pink Elephant in the Boardroom (Feature) - May 2004

There is a big pink elephant sitting in the corner of many law firm boardrooms. He has been there for so long that he is practically taken for granted. He has, however, become much harder to ignore. Clients and young lawyers are starting to ask awkward questions about his purpose and contribution.

The pink elephant, of course, is a metaphor for a problem that everyone knows exists and which everyone tries to ignore. In this case the pink elephant is underperforming partners. Some firms, however, have taken steps or are about to take steps.

In March of this year the partners at UK-based legal giant Clifford Chance LLP approved a hard line policy on partner underperformance. The new policy provides the firm’s partnership council with the power to expel underperforming partners without the need for a firm-wide vote. The partner has the right to present his or her case to the council. The partner also has a right of appeal, which then triggers a partnership vote on the expulsion. To affirm the expulsion the backing of two-thirds of the partnership is required, not 85 per cent as was previously the case.
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Courtship, Speed Dating and the Art of Legal Recruitment (Feature) - Jun 2004

It’s really no surprise. Courtship and everything that accompanies finding a partner for life are often used as analogies in recruitment, including legal recruitment. And, in may ways, they are parallel activities. Both focus on one primary goal: finding the “perfect” person or as close to one’s ideal match as possible. In recruitment this is commonly referred to as “fit.” With respect to law firms “fit” generally means finding the lawyer or student who is not only smart and capable, but who can also be easily integrated into the culture of the firm and work well with clients.

Major law firms border on being obsessive-compulsive about finding the right legal talent. And for good reason. It defines who they are and determines their success. It is taken very seriously. As noted by Clay Horner, a senior corporate partner in the Toronto offices of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, “I am actively involved in all levels of recruitment at our firm. That’s not unusual here. Our firm believes that being involved in recruiting strong talent is something that one should be good at and that this is an important responsibility which should be shared by us all.”
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Beyond Superficial Social Skills (Feature) – Jul 2004

“You can’t fake it,” emphasizes Brian Levitt, co-chair of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. “Great communication begins with, and proceeds from, a genuine and sincere interest in others.” Actually you can fake it. At least initially. But it is superficial. It has no sustainability. And this is because, as Levitt points out, great communication skills are ground in “a genuine and sincere interest in others.”

Levitt is talking about the most gifted and skilled communicators in the legal profession. And the point he repeatedly returns to is this: interpersonal mastery is derived from caring about and intuitively understanding the individuals one communicates with. This is what makes it “great”. This is what also provides the capability to become a “trusted advisor”.
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The Next Future Perfect (Cover Story) - Sep 2004

“She” could just as easily be “he”. It matters not. What does matter is that she embodies the next future perfect, an emerging (or evolving) skill set that is increasingly essential to the success of major Canadian law firms in the coming decade.

She is a “trusted advisor.” Her clients (Canadian and international include such notables as Paul Reichmann) take her to the UK, US, Europe, Mexico, wherever. Technology, and in particular a BlackBerry, have made her available almost anytime, anywhere. She slips seamlessly from one role to another. It is difficult to separate the value she provides clients as legal counsel from that which she provides as corporate advisor. She has already “crossed over” once serving as senior vice president corporate (as opposed to legal) for TrizecHahn in London, England, from 1999 to 2001.
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Top 40: 40 And Under 40 (Cover Story) - Nov 2004

Question. What do high achievers in law, such as the “2004 Top 40: 40 and Under 40” profiled in this issue of Lexpert, have in common with world-class achievers such as Olympic athletes, successful executives from financial institutions such as Citibank, or the US Navy SEALs?

Answer. How about a way of thinking, learning and concentrating that differs significantly from 90 per cent of the population? For example, possession of two skills normally thought of as mutually exclusive—intense detailed focus and concentration coupled with big picture conceptual strategic thinking. Or an almost inexplicable drive for achievement and success that appears to originate in a variety of sources, such as adversity and challenge in the formative years? Or a predisposition (i.e., hard-wiring) that ensures an unstoppable need to compete and win? Or how about an incredibly strong sense and knowledge of self? Or an intuitive sense of others by which one can “read” what is implicit or understand subtle body language and gestures?
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