It is an obvious fact that any one person cannot get along with everyone. In most instances it is relatively easy to navigate these differences--that's life. But sometimes we are thrown together (in work and away) with people we would choose to avoid. As in any workplace a law firm is no different. The larger the firm the greater the possibility. If the people in conflict are senior rainmakers the impact can be devastating to say the least.
This morning I participated in a roundtable of senior leaders in my business community as they discussed this very issue. One of the most revealing comments came from one gentleman I particularly respect. His comment was, "In any firm/company culture the people will sink to the lowest bar." An amazing insight!
As a marketer I am always working on creative ways to motivate people to higher goals--I look at the top rung and try to bring everyone with me. I know that most management teams are doing the same thing. Set a goal and shoot for over-the-top.
But, to protect the culture of a firm (and therefore its reputation in the market) marketers and leaders need to also concern themselves with what is the lowest line of expectation. What is the minimum of behavior that can be tolerated? Then, once that line is drawn, stand up to anyone and everyone about that line in the sand.
While differences will always exist, being disciplined about standards of conduct will always produce the best long-term result.