Blog Week 87: Rain in the time of cost-cutting.

Monday 23 July 00.13

On Friday Pierre, Old Timer and I had a cost-cutting meeting. It was more of a pre-meeting as Pierre and Old Timer have the big meeting with the partners at the end of this week. The firm's various offices have to submit cost-cutting plans to some special committee at the end of the month.

To be honest even after all this time I still get confused: some costs belong to the office, others for practice groups and others for the firm itself. I should know which cost is attributed to which cost-centre. But I can be a bit simple.

Anyway Friday's meeting was about the feasibility about identified potential cost-cutting proposals. Some of the options struck me as rushed and not well so thought-through. Money might be saved in the short-term but there might be some issues down the line. But my opinion was not really sought - neither Pierre or Old Timer wanted or had the time for any discussion - so I was there to confirm various technical and factual details.

Tuesday 24 July 00.02

I was walking past a meeting room this afternoon when I heard a voice booming "Where is the rain? We need rain! What rain are you making?". I thought look out the bloody window you idiot.

But after hovering within earshot for a bit I understood the speaker (someone from another office?) was referring to a different type of rain. He was lecturing some of our associates about getting clients. I could make out some of their faces; some eyes looked vacant, others fearful (like finding work was not something they wanted to think about). I suspected there was an unspoken collective sentiment: give me work and I'll do it, just don't make me get it.

The character giving the talk seemed that - a character. He was practically bouncing of the wall, not noticing how his audience was freezing rather than thawing in reaction to his performance. I wanted to hear more but had to head off. I'll get more info from Old Timer.

Tuesday 24 July 23.50

Good old Old Timer,the prime office info source on what is going on. Apparently the firm has identified it has fallen behind some of its rivals in the cost-cutting stakes. So it plans to leapfrog them with the latest technology and work practices. Whatever that means. Old Timer's voice was deadpan as he said it but his raised eyebrows indicated he thought it this might be too good to be true.

But the firm has identified something else where it can move ahead. It wants to change the approach our associates have to getting in business (or rainmaking). There has been a programme in place to get new partners to bring in the rain. Now the firm sees that other lawyers are also an untapped source of potential clients.

The only problem is this type of marketing is not something most lawyers find comfortable. In fact there is a high degree of discomfort with having to find business. So the firm has some business guru going round the offices trying to inspire a change in mind-set. Nice work if you can get it...flying around the offices, giving lectures and no one can measure if anything has been achieved. I wondered how much this guy costs? Old Timer just laughed and said: "don't even think about it, you'll get depressed and we have to get back to cost-cutting."


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