The legal sector’s “war for talent” is reaching new heights, leaving many firms grasping at straws for what they can do—besides throw more money at the problem—to ease the pain. “Band-aid solutions”—salary increases, signing bonuses, extra vacation days, gym memberships—are temporary fixes. They address the symptoms yet ignore what lies beneath. Among the root causes is culture, a topic around which Vivia Chen of Bloomberg Law recently interviewed several law firm leaders. Her concluding phrase captures the prevailing norm in law firm culture today perfectly: “Suck it up.”

It is this survivalist mentality, a results-first perspective, which defines culture at many of the world’s largest law firms. And it is in redefining this attitude—in transitioning from a performance culture—one characterized by goal achievement and results—to a learning culture —characterized by continuous improvement and development—that a law firm can find powerful, lasting advantage.

What’s Wrong With a Performance Culture?