THE MAGAZINE      May/June 2002
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Hold to the Highest Standards

By Gerald Riskin

Assume that a law firm wasn’t constrained by precedent or internal politics and that money was no object. What truly innovative practice management activity would you love to see implemented?

In my dream of a great firm, all the members would insist on exemplary behavior—not just platitudes. A truly great firm would hold all lawyers and staff accountable for being knowledgeable and proficient in the areas that are essential to the firm’s competitive strength. To ensure that strength, law firm personnel would be subject to the following:

  • Spot audits of files for quality control—not to catch and punish, but to reveal areas where training or other assistance would be helpful.
  • Pop quizzes in areas such as current case law and legislation relevant to the person’s practice area, or even in the contents of a designated trade publication in a key client industry.
  • Spot proficiency tests in the use of firm technology, client relations skills, advocacy skills and negotiating skills.

Only behavior will create competitive advantage. The words exist in all firms, the plans in most. The execution is the missing piece.

Gerry Riskin ( is a former law firm managing partner and a principal of Edge International, serving professional firms globally.

"Acting on a good idea is better than just having a good idea."

— Robert Half