Wow. You don’t get much more cynical than this.
Here’ s Karen Kaplowitz, the founder of The New Ellis Group, and a business development strategist and coach for over 20 years, essentially denying the existence of ethics and integrity in law firms as a business necessity. In a piece on the ABA Journal titled Abuse of power within law firms: The rainmaker dilemma, she begins,
Despite their obvious economic value to their organizations, Bill O’Reilly, Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein were quickly sacked. Law firms by contrast have often tolerated bad actors who are major rainmakers. Can law firms tolerate abusive rainmakers in the current business climate? Do firms need to be more aggressive about confronting abuses of power?
Can they tolerate abusive rainmakers, in this or any other business climate? Sure they can. Should they? Absolutely not. “Do firms need to be more aggressive about confronting abuses of power?” What? Does this question have to be asked?
Kaplowitz goes on..
“In a post on my blog, I list some questions to ask to help you avoid becoming media fodder over lawyer behavior. If your firm is concerned that a scandal involving an abusive rainmaker will damage the firm and is ready to confront the abusers, here are some strategies for doing so..”
Huh? That’s the concern, is it? To avoid being “media fodder”? How about the ethical reason to stop abuse—because people are being abused?
Then the consultant begins quoting another ethics-lite law firm consultant. Apparently they are all like this. He says that…
“…most firms tolerate rainmakers’ abusive behavior unless it threatens something essential in the firm’s culture. Peters says firms must draw a line when the “fabric of the firm” is at risk. “The firm must win. No one, not even a rainmaker, can be allowed to destroy the fabric of the firm.”
That’s the standard? Destroying the firm? I think what this Authentic Frontier Gibberish means is that when a rainmaker does so much internal damage to the organization that even all the money he or she brings in won’t make up for it, that abusive rainmaker has to go. Talk about a low bar! “We’ll let you get away with just about anything since you make us so much money, but just don’t destroy the firm.”
Here is that star of the rationalizations list, “The King’s Pass”:
11. The King’s Pass, The Star Syndrome, or “What Will We Do Without Him?”
One will often hear unethical behavior excused because the person involved is so important, so accomplished, and has done such great things for so many people that we should look the other way, just this once. This is a terribly dangerous mindset, because celebrities and powerful public figures come to depend on it. Their achievements, in their own minds and those of their supporters and fans, have earned them a more lenient ethical standard. This pass for bad behavior is as insidious as it is pervasive, and should be recognized and rejected whenever it raises its slimy head. In fact, the more respectable and accomplished an individual is, the more damage he or she can do through unethical conduct, because such individuals engender great trust. Thus the corrupting influence on the individual of The King’s Pass leads to the corruption of others
Clearly Karen and that other “prominent consultant” don’t read Ethics Alarms.
Here’s more advice from the latter, endorsed by the former:
“In dealing with troublesome rainmakers, [he] recommends that firms analyze just how much of a contribution the rainmaker is making. [He] described a situation in which one partner’s client accounted for 10 percent to 15 percent of a firm’s revenue, which resulted in the firm’s being very deferential to the partner. …[A] profitability analysis…discovered that the partner and his team were taking nearly 100 percent of the profits generated from the client as compensation, which meant the rest of the firm got no benefit from this group. When these facts emerged, the partner’s power diminished radically, and the firm was able to address the abusive behavior.”
No, the firm was always “able” to address the abusive behavior; it just chose money over ethics and decency, and didn’t address it.
Kaplowitz’s article made we physically ill. This is the kind of ethical grounding business consultants too often bring to their jobs: none. She is recommending exactly the kind of calculations that allowed, and are now allowing, many abusive company and law firm “stars” to continue savaging the careers and psyches of colleagues and subordinates because these creeps are profitable enough to make it expedient to look the other way. This is how you get Harvey Weinstein.
Until the management calculations recommended–recommended!!!-–by Kaplowitz and her breed are identified as the unethical trap that they are, we will keep getting Harveys in business, in law, in entertainment, in finance, in government.