With the Wall Street meltdown and law firm closings dominating the headlines, this may be a good time to build up some good karma. Denver-based Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck has created "karma committees" at its offices for staff and attorneys to choose collective good deeds to work on, such as delivering flowers and candy on Valentine's Day to hospitalized children.
"There is not a high satisfaction rate, long term, for lawyers. People get burned out," said Bruce James, the managing partner and chief executive officer. "When I joined Brownstein in the mid-80s I was struck by how satisfied and happy the partners were. I was convinced it was because of their participation in the community."
The firm gives everyone a half-day off per quarter to participate in karma committee projects, which allows the offices to continue working while staff and attorneys shuttle back and forth to the designated project. James cited as an example the full day of Halloween activities the Denver office is hosting a at a public housing project.
James credited Amy Venturi, hired in 2007 for the newly created position of community relations manager, with bringing more focus to the firm's charitable activities.
"When people join the firm, Amy meets with them, learns their passion and matches them with opportunities to serve the community," he said. "We give people the time to serve, and we don't really care what sort of service attracts them, so long as they have a passion. Community involvement has a lot to do with succeeding in the firm."
Brownstein Hyatt is best known for transactional work and lobbying, with relatively little litigation.
"It isn't as though we need good karma to offset beating people up in court," James said.