The Difference Between Policies and Preferences

Preferences versus policiesLaw firms need policies and procedures in place because they ensure that everybody knows the rules within the firm. The larger the law firm, the more important it is to have set policies and procedures. Law firms that do not have policies and procedures manuals should consider hiring an employment law firm to assist them.

Policies and Procedures Versus Preferences

At the same time, employees must be able to differentiate preferences from policies. Preferences are not the same thing as a policy. Preferences are normally not outlined in a policies and procedures manual because they are things that the law firm may want, but they might not be possible or even realistic

An example is how somebody likes their meat cooked. Some individuals might prefer a medium-rare steak versus a steak cooked to medium.  But if the steak they ordered arrives medium, most will eat it regardless.

Within a law firm, it works similarly. The law firm might prefer certain things or they might not prefer something else. But preferences should not be confused with the policies and procedures. Policies and procedures are set guidelines that the firm and the employees must follow. Meanwhile, preferences are not things that have to be followed in every instance. In some cases, what the law firm prefers might not be possible.

Examples of Preferences Within A Law Firm

A law firm might prefer lawyers with experience in the area of law in which the firm practices. Or they might prefer individuals with certain personality traits and work history. But if that experience and personality trait is not available, it does not mean somebody isn’t hired.

A law firm might prefer a certain type of client in a certain area of the law. But if that kind of client in the area of law that the firm prefers is not available, it does not mean that the law firm will not take on other clients.

A law firm might prefer that office space be found in a particular location or with certain attributes. But if that kind of space within the budget is not available, it does not mean that the law firm cannot take another space.

The possibilities are endless when getting into policies versus preferences. However, what can hamstring a law firm is when employees start treating preferences as policies. When preferences are treated as policies in an ad hoc manner, the law firm quits moving forward. The law firm can also become too rigid, inflexible, and robotic. Employees become legalistic while their creativity, ingenuity, and ability to analyze different situations is suppressed.

Preferences Can Change

Preferences can change over time. What a law firm preferred several years ago might end up being different today. When a law firm is flexible and pragmatic, they can discover that what they preferred in the past was not in their best interest.  They can also learn that a preference in one situation might have no applicability to a different situation with a different set of facts.  In this way, a law firm can mature and grow.

For any law firm to succeed, they need a strong set of policies and procedures. Policies and procedures keep a firm moving in the same direction towards a common goal. It ensures everybody knows the rules and follows them.

At the same time, preferences are different from policies and procedures. It is okay to have preferences, but law firm owners and employees need to be flexible. What they prefer is not always possible in a given situation because a preference in one situation may not apply to another. To keep a law firm moving forward and growing, being able to differentiate between policies and preferences is vital.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.

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