Toward a New Understanding of Loyalty

Vol. 38 No. 1

The author is president and CEO of Carlton Fields PA, Tampa, and a former editor-in-chief of Litigation.

“Clients are not as loyal as they used to be.”

“Partners are not as loyal as they used to be.”

We’ve said these things, but are they true? Yes and no. Our relationships with our clients and our partners have changed. But these changes may be for the better, and what we call disloyalty may be something else.

Law firm relationships with clients and partners used to be fairly one-sided, favoring the law firm's self-interest, which really means favoring the interests of the founding members of the law firm and their heirs apparent. These arrangements have become more mutual, whether we like it or not. When we lament the death of client or partner loyalty, the truth of the matter is we are lamenting the fact that we have been shaken out of our comfort zones.

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