Monthly Archive for May, 2011

Siloed To Death.

Sometimes in our industry and our professionalism, we get siloed to death…So we’re siloed in here – well, he is an art director. Well, yeah, maybe, but I would like him write some words too and let’s see if he can write a little bit. Oh, she is a strategy person. Yeah, but I’d like to hear her ideas as well, not just think of a strategy. So I think it’s our goal, all of our goal, and we all wish, to break out of those silos. The higher– the longer you work, the bigger the silo– the more people want to put you in a silo. why? So they can define you are by their terms. Our job is to never let anyone define who we are by their terms.

I think my mother taught me that life is a hallway of open doors. Over time, more and more doors close. The harder you work, the longer those doors stay open to you, and conversely, laziness accelerates their closing. That image in my mind has always haunted me. And it is true.

Nowhere is the process of siloing more prevalent than in the law.

When you first set foot in the door as a bright-eyed summer associate, in most firms, you get one summer to figure out what group you are going to end up in at the firm. Eight weeks to determine your future career path for the rest of your life (that is, if you can hack it). That, for me, was the first time I felt actively siloed. You are taught that to be a jack of all trades and a master of none is impossible in a top tier law firm; you must specialize to survive. So you pick a group, and over time, you are further siloed, as the derivatives expert, or the securitzation opinions guy, or the synthetic leasing guy. So we sit, waiting at the beck and call of someone who requires our exceedingly narrow expertise. And I’ve seen, as certain competencies become obsolete, men literally be siloed to their death (in the law).

I’ll bet this happens elsewhere in the financial industry and other industries as well. I ask myself – what have I contributed to society? Have I made the world a better place – or even left a mark? Is it even possible to achieve such high minded (but impossibly abstract) goals as a lawyer in a big firm? Succeeding on a big scale, working on big-name deals, is exciting, but it does not stifle the creak of doors closing before my mind’s eye.