When shareholder Leonard Nelson celebrated his 50th anniversary in practice, he spoke to a room of Bernstein Shur attorneys and staff members:
“Our firm has not grown by accident. Our strategic plan and policies remain quite simple: hire ethical, intelligent, energetic, ambitious people; pay them fairly; disregard gender, sexual orientation and ethnic background; don’t borrow money; show up every day; return calls promptly. Think all the time about giving good value to your clients.”
His words continue to resonate with us, especially as we celebrate our 100th anniversary in 2015—and look ahead to the next 100 years.
The business world is changing, and the practice of law is evolving with it. It’s no longer enough to deliver world-class legal services; to compete today, a law firm also has to continuously find the smartest, most efficient ways to do it. Delivering good value is now more important than ever.
Fortunately, we’re uniquely prepared to meet the challenge: Adapting to circumstances has always been part of our DNA. From the beginning, our founders were always conscious of their outsider status in the legal world. But they loved what they did, and they felt a personal responsibility and a professional passion for providing exceptional counsel. So they worked hard, stuck to their values, and we became tougher, stronger, and scrappier. And over time, we became a different kind of law firm.
How different? The golden rule is our favorite law, so we focus on being the kind of people we want to work with: people who are kind, gracious, (occasionally) funny, and considerate of clients and colleagues alike. That idea permeates everything we do, from the way we give advice to the way we draft our memos.
For example, we put our clients’ bottom line above our own, providing counsel in the way that’s most efficient and effective for them—not us. Instead of over-lawyering or over-billing, we seek out the smartest, most efficient solutions. And instead of relying on the law alone, we approach our work as business consultants, taking the time to get know firsthand what kind of legal, regulatory, and business landscape our clients are dealing with.
The result? Our clients receive not only legal counsel, but also down-to-earth business counsel geared toward meeting their broad, long-term goals.
(And they receive it in plain English, because we think you can’t make an informed legal decision if you can’t figure out what your lawyer is saying to you.)
To us, providing great value means being more than just being a great lawyer.
It means thinking a bit outside the box, coloring a bit outside the lines, and going above and beyond to meet the enormously high standards you set for yourself.
Which is, fortunately, exactly what we do best. We’ve always been a place for people who think a little differently—and professionals who truly believe in the importance of their work and are willing to put principles over pure profit.
That’s at the core of the value we’ve provided over the last 100 years. And as we look ahead to the next 100, it’s the legacy we hope to continue.