Are uniformity and creativity two competing concepts? Does striving for uniformity kill creativity?

My column in the February 2015 Oklahoma Bar Journal is titled Uniformity vs. Creativity and I argue that law firms, especially small- to mid-sized firms, need to put more effort into internal standardization to better serve their clients. But perhaps the examples I included make this point very well. If your staff was interviewed by an outside consultant, would they hear any of these complaints?

• “We have to set up the files one way when they are Bob’s clients and a totally different way when they are Fred’s clients.”

• “We can’t cross train anybody to cover for vacation or illness because Mary insists that her matters be handled differently than everyone else in the law firm.”

• “Jim doesn’t handle a certain type of matter frequently, but when he does we have to go search in his old files because he wants things done differently than everyone else in the law firm.”

• “We have five lawyers in the firm and so we have to use five different forms as the starting point for drafting a relatively routine document.”

Sound familiar? It sounds familiar to every law firm consultant and many law firm administrators. If you have associates, you can bet that they have noticed, too. Please read my column and share it with some lawyers who really needs to read it.