Monday, April 13, 2009

Good Deeds

It falls in the 'no good deed goes punished' category. In "$80,000 for Year Off From Law? She'll Take It" (New York Times, April 13, 2009) take the money and run meets real life. Well, not exactly real life but the version of it in which associates in many of the high priced law firms live. In this world, most of the firms mandate that for your money you must do good. Skadden, Arps, the focus of this piece only says you can do good. I am uncomfortable with this whole charade.

I remember when my children were applying to college. There was a mad rush, among many of the parents, to blanket their child's resume with random acts of kindness. It made for good press, but struck me as so insincere and inappropriate.

I have a suggestion. Why don't the top law firms all agree that when conditions get better in the marketplace, that the firms reduce salaries across the board and give a % of every dollar to charity. Let them also match charitable donations of each lawyer from their firm up to 5 % of each salary. Let them put their money where there mouth is in times of plenty.

Don't create this pretty picture of good works only when your excess staff is unneeded and on paid vacation. Demonstrate that this is not a PR stunt but a statement that the top law firms believe it is their ongoing duty and responsibility to give back to those less fortunate. Let them contribute on a substantial and ongoing basis to better mankind. Then, and only then, will I be truly impressed.


eric T Shore said...

BOB I have felt similarly - I have actually spoken with plaintiffs attorneys and suggested that they and their client ( as a matter of taking the case) contribute a very small amount of $$ back to the hospital . This money would go to the office of safety and the money could be used for education, software or a data collection person - to make errors less likely!
Can u spell SILENCE!!

Robert said...

I don't mean to chastise efforts at charity, but let it not be tacked on to some other enterprise, as though it was a central focus.

I would hope that true commitment to public good would SILENCE me, but I, like you, doubt that will happen soon.