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"We were arrogant."

"We were arrogant." - partners of law firm Shearman & Sterling

I've long since left the world of legal practice, but for those interested (or even care - since the majority of my LinkedIn network now has nothing to do with law), this article is the perfect reminder to not let success as a first-tier organization get to your head...and to always keep evolving with changing times as needed.

It's the story of Shearman & Sterling, an elite, first-tier New York City headquartered law firm reduced to merger talks with a firm they would have thumbed their noses at (full disclosure: I worked at this competing firm in the early 2010s).

To Shearman & Sterling, this probably feels the same way as if McKinsey, Bain or Boston Consulting Group were forced to go hat in hand to Accenture or L.E.K.

📰 From the article: "If Shearman does get swallowed up by Hogan Lovells, it will be a sad end to a storied New York legal brand for multiple former partners.

"Ten years ago, no way [Shearman would have merged with Hogan Lovells], five years ago, no way,” one said." 📰

📰 Here's another snippet: “Twenty years ago the suggestion would have been a joke, like an April Fool,” one ex-partner said of the talks.

Former Shearman partners said the news came as a shock since the firm’s lawyers would once have looked down their noses at their rival — even though Hogan Lovells was larger, its work did not carry the same prestige." 📰

Over the years I've reinvented myself from journalist to legal practitioner to legaltech manager to start-up product manager and now to a start-up consultant, coach and book author (working on book #2) to take full advantage of the opportunities that I either created myself or were presented to me.

✅ Never forget that times, markets, in-demand skillsets, competitors and customers change - and so should you if you want to stay relevant.

Making the necessary changes AND doing the hard work raises the *probability* life will be easy (or easier) for you.

On the other hand, taking the easy road and/or sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich means life will *guaranteed* be hard for you.

This applies to your personal life and work life (whether you work in big corporate, a startup or are a founder).

Let's see what's next for Shearman & Sterling.

But suffice to say, don't end up like them.


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