Core Values: Why Your Law Firm Can’t Live Without Them

6–8 minutes to read

When it comes to starting your own law firm, there’s a checklist you need to follow if you want things to run smoothly. There are the basics you need, such as an office, a working website, bookkeeping, and case management processes in place. Don’t forget your lawyers and other employees, an operational phone number, and various social media platforms representing your firm.

One key element that most law firm owners forget, however, is something their business can’t live without: a set of intentional core values.

In this article, we’ll discuss why you need core values for your law firm, how to develop them, and how to enforce them. To do these things, you’ll need to know how to:

  1. Review the Facts: Why Core Values Matter
  2. Streamline Your Processes: What Are Your Law Firm’s Core Values?
  3. Initiate Your Values: Practice What You Preach

Review the Facts: Why Core Values Matter

Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. They not only help you connect with your ideal clients, but they also help with attracting and retaining the right team members.

Without them, you, your law firm — and your audience — won’t have a guiding light.

It’s easy to get caught up in the politics behind businesses and organizations, and sometimes consumers forget that there are still good people doing honest work. Why not prove to them that your law firm is one of those upstanding firms?

Studies show that 77 percent of consumers buy from companies that share the same values as they do. That’s why companies like Whole Foods, Delta, and Apple are all frequently visited by millions of consumers weekly. They promise something unique and then provide it. By doing this, they attract a dedicated audience who stand by what they do.

In addition to attracting the right people to represent, having a set of core values attracts the right people to work for you. When you make your culture clear, those who align with those values will apply to join you as it will be an easy transition. Your standards are non-negotiable, and potential candidates should know that from the beginning.

Since character is so important, make sure that everyone you seriously consider for the job follows the core value guidelines of your law firm. Be sure to weed out the people who will make it, and those who won’t.

“Hiring isn’t just about finding great people — it’s about becoming a great company that people want to work for. Don’t forget that you’re competing with every brand out there, not just your industry competitors,” explains Jessica Mogill, Head of Coaching Strategy at Crisp.

According to Forbes, employers should trade 90 percent talent for just 10 percent character. That’s a huge deficit — why would they recommend that?

You can teach talent; character comes from within.

Core values help to distinguish a company’s identity, improve recruiting and retention, influence behavior, help in decision making processes, shape organizational culture, and contribute to the overall success of a company.

Is that enough to convince you that, YES, you need to incorporate core values into your law firm’s culture?

Streamline Your Processes: What are Your Core Values?

We understand that developing your own set of core values isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes thought, time, and effort to decide what you stand for — and when you do, what do you do with them? How do you communicate them? How do you enforce them?

If you’re at a loss for where to begin, check out our core values as a jumping-off point. We abide by them every day, both in and out of the office. In fact, we use them to measure the success of each of our team members, and as key indicators during the hiring process for whether a candidate will be a culture fit at our organization.

Take a look:

  1. Results Driven, Not Effort Driven – Keep your focus on achieving metrics and objectives; stay committed to the end; never lose sight of the goal.
  2. Vested in Client Success – Go the extra mile; find a solution no matter what; ensure clients’ best interests are in mind.
  3. Better Than Yesterday – Hold yourself to the same expectations you hold teammates; learn from your mistakes and make progress; create better standards for yourself and your teammates.
  4. Solution Focused – Make impactful and effective changes; speak up when something is not working; keep your mindset focused on finding the right solution rather than only bringing problems.
  5. Take Ownership – Step up and step in rather than waiting for others to take action first; be accountable for the results of your actions; take the initiative to bring positive results and learn from moments of failure.
  6. Team First – Jump in when you see your teammate in need of help; be proactive in finding ways to add value; focus on our five-year vision that we can all be constantly working together toward achieving $1 billion in impact.
  7. Consistency – Repeat your behaviors until your habits become second nature; be consistent with your work, habits, mindset, and grind; be a game changer every single day.

Our core values mean everything to us at Crisp. Prominently displayed on our walls, clearly communicated daily, and consistently enforced, they are truly the operating system behind our success.

That’s the kind of framework you need to adopt into your law firm if you haven’t already — and trust us, this is true across all firms.

The law firms who have chosen to highlight their core values have seen an increase in quality of cases, quality of hires, and quality of life at work overall.

In order to hone in on your law firm’s unique set of core values, consider the following questions:

  1. Think back to some of your favorite jobs and/or bosses. What made them so memorable?
  2. When it comes to collaborating with others, what matters most to you? Is it time management, finding solutions, or respectful discourse?
  3. Do you prefer asking for permission first and planning astutely or diving in first and asking for forgiveness later?
  4. What kind of people do you choose to surround yourself with?
  5. What do you consider a non-negotiable for anyone working with you? Are you okay with flexible hours, but missing deadlines are unacceptable? Do you have firm expectations about everyone being in the office to collaborate during certain times?
  6. When someone leaves a position at your law firm, what is the most common reason for their departure?
  7. Would you enthusiastically re-hire every single member of your existing team? Why or why not? What is it about the “weak links” that dampers your enthusiasm?
  8. What would “great” look like for each member of your team? Think about your favorite team members. What do they all have in common?
  9. What makes your law firm different from your competitors’? Why do people apply to yours over others?

Once you’re able to take a long, hard look at your law firm and determine what matters most, only then will you be able to identify and define your core values.

Initiate Your Values: Practice What You Preach

Once you know what your core values are, you must build your law firm around them. They ultimately create the culture of your company, and while this might not seem important to some, it can be the make-or-break reason why people want to work for you, with you, or recommend someone to do so.

The importance of your law firm’s culture cannot be overstated. Team members who are great culture fits stay with your firm longer and are more actively engaged in their work. This results in fewer hirings, firings, and the high costs associated with human resource turnover.

Culture is your competitive advantage. Finding smart, capable people is just half of the battle. If they don’t fit in with your law firm, they will only bring you down. If excellence is contagious, then mediocrity can be too.

Make sure you set the tone early, and find the right people to build and add to it.

Whatever your core values are, make sure they will attract your ideal clients, your ideal team members, and continue to build on the culture of your law firm.

This is your wake up call. Make 2022 your year to build your A-team and encircle yourself with meaningful clients, team members, and associates in order to establish a legacy that will last a lifetime.