Pamela Cross. Photo via rhoadesmckee.com
Due to happenstance, a local law firm recently elected an all new three-person executive committee.
The new committee members at Grand Rapids-based Rhoades McKee — Pamela Cross, Paul McCarthy and Mark Smith — explained that the three outgoing members all elected not to serve additional terms, which left the three vacant slots.
Though Cross, McCarthy and Smith said that they plan to basically stay the course in the year ahead, there is no doubt that having a fresh committee is likely to bring an added vibrancy.
Additionally, this is a year of change for the firm — it will be relocating for the first time in many years.
“We are building out a new space in the Riverfront Plaza building,” McCarthy said. “We’ll be moving the firm for the first time in 40-plus years.
“It’s an opportunity for us to re-evaluate the firm and take a fresh start forward. So, we are combining that with a new logo and marketing campaign.
McCarthy said the fresh, modern space and logo reflect changes that have been happening within the firm over the last several years as well.
“We’ve had a younger generation of lawyers maturing and continuing to do great client work,” McCarthy said.
The new space is being designed with the client in mind, something that the executive team said has been particularly important to the firm throughout its history.
“Someone’s best day is not the day they realize they have to go see their lawyer,” Smith said.
So the space will be focused on making the client visit a positive one.
“We are designing our new space based around our client’s experience,” McCarthy said. “Not to make the environment intimidating. We want it to be a good client-driven experience.”
Cross, McCarthy and Smith said that the firm will also continue to focus on relationship building, with an emphasis on its community outreach activities.
“I think our community building is part and parcel of that same philosophy — we really want our lawyers to be enmeshed in the community, good stewards of the community,” Cross said. “We try to honor that both from a corporate perspective and encourage our lawyers on an individual perspective to serve in the capacities that they are best suited for and that they have passion for.”
“It’s not enough to just practice law anymore,” Smith added. “You need to be involved in the community. We form relationships with our clients and that is one of the strong focuses our firm has always had is that relationship piece. We aren’t just a service provider.”
Finally, Smith said that the executive committee’s role is not to just think about the short term, but to make sure the firm is prepared for the long term.
Smith noted that technology has changed and will continue to change how a law firm conducts business.
“That is one of our challenges as a committee, is to make sure our firm is on top of those issues and anticipates them rather than reacts to them,” Smith said. “As we are building our new space, how do we make sure we have that capacity not for tomorrow, but for five years from now?”
Cross, McCarthy and Smith are serving staggered terms of two, three and four years.