They yell at associates, even in front of clients. They always wait until the last minute to hand out assignments. They take credit for others' work. And they are partners at your law firm.
All firms need to recognise such partners as their behaviour might have a toxic effect on the firm as a whole. Their bad behaviour can be disruptive to other partners, associates and staff and can degrade the values that hold a firm together.
Bad behaviour may happen for a number of reasons: may be because people want power and control at work and they respond aggressively when their power is threatened; or because people are unhappy - at home or at work and they express their unhappiness by being mean to others.
Whatever the reason, bad behaviour has an adverse impact on the performance of the firm as a whole.
Here are some of the ways in which you, as an associate, can try to handle such a problematic partner.
Talk to a Third Party
Obnoxious behaviour by a partner can be in any form. Some tend to give assignments without notice that require late nights, even though the work could have been assigned much earlier; while some tend to red-line the briefs drafted by associates with unnecessary editing; while some others refuse to allow associates to meet clients on their own. Then, there are some who take sole credit for getting a new client, winning a motion or coming up with a case-resolving idea even though it was actually a team effort. And some others are known for their screaming tantrums.
When you, as an associate, find it difficult to work with such a partner, try to talk it out with a neutral third party, such as a senior associate or a mentor, to find out whether it is out of step with the firm's cultural norms. So instead of fighting head-to-head, it is better to solicit the support of another partner.
Set a Weekly Calendar Meeting
In order to avoid any last-minute work assignments, it is always advisable to establish weekly calendar meetings with partners and associates and resolve the scheduling conflicts, if any.
Remember, at the end of the day, it is the business that you brought to the firm, that is important for you to be entitled to any reward; and for that you need to balance between your targets and an over-demanding partner.
Convey the Message
If a partner is a major business generator, people at the firm may not want to confront him about his bad behaviour. But for the overall health of the law firm, it is very important to address this problem.
So, go ahead and meet up the managing partner or an influential partner at the firm so that a suitable message could be conveyed to the problem-creating partner that his/her behaviour is not acceptable to the firm.
Work for Another Partner
If despite your repeated efforts, you are unable to work effectively with a partner, approach the managing partner at the firm and propose receiving assignments from another partner.
Just try to avoid difficult partners and find the good people who care about your career and your life.
As you eliminate unnecessary tolerance in your culture, you will be amazed to experience increased energy, motivation and performance in your own self.