06/24/2011 10:16:00 AM EST
What lawyers can learn from the high standards at Niman Ranch
Last night I attended a special
event at Abacus, one of my favorite Dallas
restaurants -- a Niman Ranch dinner
hosted by chef Kent Rathbun and Niman Ranch farmer, Paul
Willis. If you enjoy four and five-star restaurants, you will be
familiar with Niman Ranch products and its mission of:
"... raising livestock traditionally, humanely and sustainably to
produce the finest tasting food in the world."
In addition to enjoying a fabulous
meal of Niman Ranch Pork Cheeks braised in Shiner Bock Beer (with creamy
onion-smoked brussel sprouts), Jalapeno Beer Battered Lobster with Niman Ranch
"Ham Hock Mac," Hickory Grilled Niman Ranch Lamb T-Bone (with toasted
garlic-balsamic glaze and carnival cauliflower puree) and Niman Ranch Prime
Ribeye Filet with Crispy Morel Mushroom Sauce . . . (is your mouth watering
yet? . . . I learned a lot about how Niman Ranch does business. And big
business they do.
Niman Ranch works with 676 (and
growing) sustainable U.S. family farmers and ranchers, and the
sophisticated infrastructure enables them to distribute products throughout the
U.S., Bermuda and the Carribbean.
Paul Willis, an Iowa farmer, quoted
Bill Niman (who is no longer affiliated with the company) - and it was
these quotes that made me think about lawyers. Willis said, The reason
that pork - the other white meat - is so tasteless today is because we've had
"the chickenization of pigs."
OK, that wasn't the quote that
prompted me to think about lawyers. But I appreciated the comparison of
pigs to chickens, and frankly, the explanation about why, in fact, today's pork
is so bland. (The reason is farmers underfeed them low-fat foods and keep them
in containment buildings with no space to move or grow.)
"I'm not raising porkchops, I'm
raising animals." That's the one. I ask law firm management to
substitute this: "I'm not raising billable hours, I'm raising
people." People who happen to be lawyers who care deeply for their
clients. Some of the sustainable principles that fuel companies like
Niman Ranch could be applied to law firms. The opposite of sustainable
farming is "factory farming." While profits may be higher with
a factory-like business model, we have seen the quality of life for
lawyers and staff, and the satisfaction and loyalty of clients suffer.
It's just something to consider.
more insight at the Law Firm 4.0 Blog.
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