Do Law Firms Really Have Principles?

By Nethani Palmani | Feb 28, 2017 02:59 PM EST

There are people within a law firm that often bring in tons of business to the corporation. These are the people who are dynamically sales-oriented, technologically brilliant, and what not - the ones who also at times, end up neglecting the firm's principles.

They are called the "heavy-hitters" and by some others, plainly, "bullies". A heavy-hitter controls others within the law firm and gets to deliver the last say.

Most likely, the person doesn't submit time sheets in a timely manner or reports expenses reports as required. The person may also always demand to fly first class while the rules of the law firm require coach.

In fact, the heavy-hitter is probably told to strive for diversity in hiring, but somehow always picks employees according to his usual choices. Such scenarios result in ethical problems, according to The Law Society.

Ethics, or principles that are supposedly guide a professional towards the appropriate way to behave in relation to moral dilemmas that arise in practice, becomes neglected due to the heavy-hitters. This brings us to the question - will others choose to enforce the rules when the heavy-hitter disobeys them?

The easy case to that would be, not being bothered about those who get fired in the law firm and puffing up our chests, thinking how principled we have been to deserve the retention. The hard case, however, is the one that makes us decide if rules really matter when the heavy-hitter violates the rules.

Enforcing the rules against heavy-hitters are definitely not easy, as Above the Law says. But the heavy-hitter's ways may change or a small punishment can be enforced on them, a good claim that the principles and rules are enforced after all.

But the real issue is not illegality. It doesn't matter so much when a heavy-hitter is the culprit. The real issue is whether what we believe in the law firm, really matters to us. While the dilemma helps us rethink if a law firm really has principles, we can say that a principle isn't a principle until it becomes real to us.

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