Has anybody not heard about the “affluenza” teen at this point? This is a story that has been all over the news.
If you haven’t heard, a teenager killed four individuals while drunk driving in 2013. Ultimately, he was put on probation for 10-years when a defense witness testified that he suffered from affluenza. As explained at trial, affluenza is when somebody lives an affluent lifestyle to such a level that they become irresponsible, self absorbed and incapable of accepting responsibility for their actions.
Two years later, the affluenza teen was caught on video violating his probation by playing beer pong. The affluenza teen and his mother then fled to Mexico to avoid jail time for the affluenza teen.
Obviously, this is a severe fact pattern and a horrible situation for the victims. But the apparent lack of responsibility that this teen took for his actions can bring some important lessons for law firms (and for society as a whole).
First, it’s important in the recruiting process to make sure that attorneys and legal professionals who are not of the affluenza mindset. In other words, it’s vital to hire individuals who are entering the legal field for the right reasons, who are willing to work hard, do not feel entitled and and who have high character. It’s vital to hire employees who put others above themselves and can take constructive criticism. When they make mistakes (as anybody will inevitably make on some level), its important to have employees who own their mistakes, do not run from them and instead work hard to fix them.
Second, after employees have been hired in the law firm, it’s important to make sure that high standards are put in place in your law firm that are enforced. When employees fall short of these standards, it’s critical to make sure that there are fair consequences for the actions. It’s important to make sure that employees are taught to work hard, fight for their clients and put their best efforts forward for the collective success of the law firm and the firm’s clients.
If you make sure that an affluenza mindset is not in your law firm, you will go a long way toward having a successful law firm. Law firms need employees who put others ahead of themselves, work hard and do not feel entitled to an affluent and easy lifestyle.
What are you doing to instill the proper mindset in your law firm? If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.