Monday, September 26, 2011

Losing momentum

People in a law office can be classified as people who react, or people who elicit reaction. Those who know how to elicit reaction are able to stay one step ahead of their competition and keep momentum in their cases.

Staying ahead of the eight ball isn't always easy. People will say "no," "can't," "won't," "never," and other negative abstracts of infinity. I say, "Never say never!" (How many clich├ęs can one use in a blog post?)  If you meet a wall, you just haven't looked hard enough for a way around the wall. I am usually amazed by people's lack of motivation to do something until a reaction is forced. That is not the time to react, even though you sometimes don't have a choice. Forced reactions don't yield the best results.  The person who is forcing the reaction has planned out every move, like a good chess player, and has put into play contingency plans based on every possible reaction you could have. You will be cornered, and eventually, hear "check mate!"

I am one of those people that elicits reactions from people. (I know, you couldn't tell, right?) My last boss was the king of ramming results through, whether the square peg fit in the round hole or not. 

People who refuse to require reaction drive me crazy. I think that is one reason I have such a hard time with Secretary X. Secretary X is as far to the opposite end of that spectrum as one can be. She actually looks for ways to avoid being proactive. She is the ultimate procrastinator. Even with (sometimes constant) reminders of the importance of timing of particular tasks, she meets those tasks with every excuse why certain things shouldn't, or can't, happen yet.
Yesterday was no exception. Associate told her 30 days ago to schedule depositions to occur within 45 days (which requires immediate scheduling). Today, I requested a status update and, after a long drawn-out exchange, she said she was waiting to see if an attorney was going to object to service because she didn't think the other attorney wanted to schedule her client's deposition yet. She didn't ask the other attorney, and the other attorney never refused to schedule them. She just assumed she shouldn't schedule them because opposing counsel probably wasn't ready.  (Nope, that logic escapes me too...)

I was just baffled. That's right, I forgot about the interoffice memo that we are now accomodating delay requests from opposing counsel when this case will conclude in arbitration in 90 days. I should probably send over our privileged case analysis report and our top settlement offer before we get too far into the case. Maybe I'll run that by Secretary X tomorrow. She is a genius strategist, after all.

So, again, Secretary X had excuses for not doing what she was supposed to do months ago because she is too lazy to make a couple phone calls. I tried to force the issue, but I doubted I made any headway. That is, until I came in this morning to an email that the depos were scheduled. (SHOCKER!) So, I ended up having this ridiculous, unnecesaary conversation with her yesterday about a non-issue, once again.

Moral to this story: Drink tequila. Why? Because I said so. That's why!

Real moral to this story: Momentum stops at the slowest player. Sometimes you have to force reaction internally before you can make any overall headway.  Don't be afraid to make waves.

1 comment:

  1. Well said... a devil may care approach works wonders sometimes - particularly in a law firm (and it's amazing the way it relieves some of your own stress). I can vouch from experience just how liberating that can be!! :-)