It is our highest value and is expressed through specific characteristics such as responsiveness, a sense of urgency, honesty and providing leadership. Here’s a bit of insight from Tom Grella, a member of MWB since 1988 who served the firm as managing partner for 12 years from 2001, describing how he came to firmly understand this value, and was a part of the Firm’s management team that led firm members to make a commitment to excellence in their relationships with each other, to our clients, and to our community:
In May of 2001, the two main influencers of MWB at the time, former Asheville Mayors Wood and Bissette, came into my office and told me they had chosen me to be the next managing partner of the firm, primarily due to my extensive involvement in the Law Practice Management Section of the American Bar Association. What I very quickly learned was that I knew a little about law firm management, but almost nothing about leadership, and the fact that others will not necessarily follow just because one has a position. I immediately began what has been a professional life quest to become a better leader. What I learned from leadership guru John Maxwell is that leadership, plain and simple, is influence. Through books and publications on leadership, attendance at leadership seminars, learning through failure, and most importantly, surrounding myself with mentors such as Lou Bissette, Dick Wood, my friend Jerry Miller, a former Texaco executive who moved to Asheville to help design and build Billy Graham’s Cove, and Ed Flitton, a former managing partner of Holland & Hart in Denver, CO, I discovered that excellence in the practice of law, and life, results in trust, loyalty and prolonged relationships with clients, others in the firm, and those we deal with in the community and profession. It took much time, study and failure, but I have found that others follow when relationship is built, and relationship is built through trust. Our shared value to excellence in the practice of law, including the commitment to be responsive and honest, and to show a sense of urgency when folks bring us the important legal matters they are dealing with, is the core of our culture at MWB.
The lawyers at MWB are servant leaders to many different clients and communities. For myself, in practice I primarily serve and lead developers of condominiums and housing communities, entrepreneurial ventures seeking private capital, and local medical practices dealing with complex legal issues. It is my hope that what I do is not just problem solving, but supportive of future success. Many of my clients have been so for more than a decade, and several have grown into close personal friends outside of our professional interaction. In the profession I have a passion to help serve lawyers in the business of the practice of law, and have done so through pretty extensive service to the ABA. My greatest joy at MWB is to observe that those I practice law with – my partners and professional colleagues – all strive to provide exemplary service to each other, clients, the community and profession. I think you will find that at MWB, all lawyers not only extremely skilled and well versed in their specific area of legal expertise, but they also, and even more importantly in my view, understand that if our goal is to achieve all the characteristics of excellent service, personal benefit and satisfaction will naturally flow back to everyone on the team. At MWB we don’t work for others to live, but live to serve others. I am privileged to work with all members of our team, and commend them all to you to help with your legal needs.