5 Problems with Law Firms in South Africa

  1. Their business models are ancient. Most firms still structure themselves the way law firms of centuries ago were structured.
  2. There is generally a lack of transformation in terms of making firms hospitable to women. This would mean finding solutions to issues such as childcare, working remotely, dawn meetings etc.
  3. There is generally a lack of understanding of how powerful it can be to have men and women understand the ways in which they think and act differently and harness these differences in the workplace.  Female attorneys will only get ahead when they are able to act like their male counterparts.
  4. Many law firms have embraced the trend of having values – yet like many companies, do not know the first thing about living their values.  They have no idea how to ensure all their policies and procedures from remuneration to billing clients, are aligned with their values. This means the values just make good wallpaper.
  5. Law firms are mostly oblivious to the fact that as a result of their restrictive and hierarchical cultures, only a certain type of person will be able to thrive in a law firm. This means that of the 10 graduates who join a firm, after a decade only those whose personality profile is very similar to all the attorneys higher up the chain, are likely to still be around. This makes for homogeneous attorneys and is not actually good for business or the profession.  The line up may look diverse – some men, some women, different races but in terms of personality profile, they’ll probably represent only 10% of the population. If that.

PS the photo I found on Google. It’s an Aussie firm I believe. I might be sued for using it without permission. It just seemed too perfect an illustration of point 5 to resist. I’m gobsmacked. Are those women in uniforms? Or did they get a memo saying “black skirt suit, 3 cm above the knee, white shirt, black peep toe heels”?. Notice only the woman on the far right is able to wear sexy boots. Because she’s been there for 20 years, she earned the right to show her individuality. Just the boots mind you. Frightening stuff.  This is just my personal opinion.


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