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Law And More: Beyond End of the Business Lunch

Economic and behavioral shifts. Essentially, that’s what The New York Times cites as the drivers in the collapse of the business lunch in an upscale restaurant. 

But the impacts of those changes extend beyond the end of what had been the standard ritual in everything from dealmaking to recruiting. The out-of-date symbolism for all that, of course, had been the three-martini lunch.

The current symbolism is negative: It eats up (pun intended) too much time. And most well-paying positions require long hours (hammered in this Subreddit Big Law thread). During those long hours taking the time for any and all eating can send the wrong message. The right messaging happens through gulping down something in front of a screen and not even taking the time to remove the food containers from the desk.

This isn’t only happening in offices where everyone watches everyone else and even the brass is likely doing screen eating. In my conversations with fellow entrepreneurs operating out of home offices what I have turned up is this: Most of us don’t even have one of those traditional tables for consuming meals. You bet, we screen eat. A few years ago when I brought in my computer for repair, the tech guy opened it and what was there. You got it: lots of food.

Even during hanging out with bros we invite over we multi-task, not just eat. For example, we take in a film being streamed while grabbing up pieces of pizza.

Sure, the leadership in professional services such as law and my field of communications has to do business entertaining. However, currently it has to be configured into a lot more than a business lunch. How about an entire day in the Hamptons or a weekend on a private island or an invite to the wedding of the year.

Another old-line ritual that is over is sleeping. Needing or wanting too much of that can throw shadow on a career. Influential SuperLawyers relays this anecdote about powerhouse litigator and chairperson of Paul Weiss Brad Karp:

“’I assume he [Karp] doesn’t sleep,’ says Citigroup General Counsel and Corporate Secretary Michael Helfer.’Somehow, he’s always available when I call …’”

My experience with Karp mirrors that. Pacific time was 11 PM. I emailed him about my covering for Law and More the Kara Swisher – Scott Galloway PIVOT podcast saluting him as a  “change agent.” Karp was on Eastern Time but he got back to me within minutes with a thought-out detailed response.

Branding in these unusual business times demands always being on. In the UK some in-house lawyers are pushing back against that. For instance, they are training lawyers at the law firms they use not to email during the night unless the situation is really urgent.

However, the universal expectation has hardened into response-on-demand. It’s been a long while since clients thanked me for creating their marketing communications during the weekend. That’s simply embedded in doing business.

Of course, the concern is: Is this always-on sustainable? Smirk. The reality is survival in the now. Not even striving to get ahead for the future.

Discover how amazing results can happen in your marketing communications. A client told me that I made shipping containers sound “sexy.” (That drove sales.) Complimentary consultation with [email protected]. Text 203-468-8579.

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