Q. In our firm, the managing partner has to make hard decisions now and then that make him look like a “bad guy.” Another partner, in an effort to look like a “good guy” (and unbeknownst to the managing partner), badmouths these unpopular decisions, and says he wouldn’t have done the same himself. This drives a wedge between attorneys and staff, between partners, etc., and in general sets a bad tone. Any suggestions on how to handle this?

A. This “good guy” is anything but-his behavior is way off-base. The innocent explanation is that the partner may really empathize with employees and feel badly for them. (When there are layoffs, for instance, everyone suffers.) Less innocently, his behavior may be good old-fashioned backstabbing, in an effort to grab power.

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