Employee Considerations in Law Firm Mergers
I just sent the suggestions copied below to an attorney looking for merger tips to pass along to a client law firm about to merge w/another firm. Doing so made me realize how often in mergers (whether law firms or other businesses) there’s too little attention paid to our employees and what they are going through (e.g. the culture shifts, fast changes occurring in their workplace and other shifts in dynamics that inevitably occur during a merger).
It’s usually not that leadership intends to neglect their employees; they are just so wrapped in making smart leadership decisions regarding the merger that often they forget to include extra employee TLC, training, discussion groups about the merger, etc.
Here’s what I wrote to the list serve attorney:
The ABA used to have some good books on mergers and if they’ve been updated recently, that would be one good source. What’s not written about enough is the effects that mergers have on staff members and how to help your staff transition successfully (pre-merger, actual transition period and post-merger). You’ve probably already discussed this w/your client but if not I’d suggest that one of their primary goals be to keep in close touch w/their employees, get their input regularly re how merger is going for them, what’s working/what’s not, their suggestions on improving whatever needs attention, etc.
Also like to see firm-wide attorney/staff meetings held fairly regularly for a while that are focused solely on “How are we doing w/this merger, what’s needs attention, etc….” If staff’s given plenty of private and “public” opportunities to share their input and/or concerns, but the partners learn they are nevertheless nay-saying the merger (and/or folks from the “other” firm) behind closed doors, then that too would need to be addressed promptly (and firmly) to avoid the spread of their venom.
My years of experience has shown that too often mergers are entered into haphazardly, too quickly, for the wrong reasons (or expectations) and without the proper preparation being made before the actual merger itself occurs. When rushed through too quickly there are usually costly repercussions and lots of “clean-up/repair work” to be done office wide. Mergers can be a very smart thing to do, but only if there’s careful pre-planning done not ony about the financial aspects but also the merging of two different workplace cultures and how to do so respectfully, professionally and successfully!
Let me know if you want me to write more on this subject and as always, thanks for stopping by my ever-evolving new blog!
With smiles & best wishes,