The Law Firm and the Brownian Motion

Definition: The Brownian motion can be defined as the random motion of microscopic particles immersed in  fluid(1).

In a fluid (liquid or gas) there are basically two forces that constantly interact: the first one is the force that amalgamates the molecules and keeps them together forming the liquid (I will not discuss or define this force now) and the other one is this vibration that is inherent to the particles and makes them “collide” with each other.(2)(see footnotes).
If energy is applied to the fluid (example: if we boil water) the vibrations among particles increase, as more energy is applied and ends up reaching the threshold of breaking the force that joins the said particles (example: the water boils and is transformed into steam).

Trying to justify myself, I prefer to use the metaphor of the FLUID rather than the image of the so-called corporate fabric due to a purely physical aspect: in a fabric the forces may only be applied in two directions as fabric is something two-dimensional and in a fluid the forces exist in the three dimensions and the model comes closer to the real world where the aspects involved may, and happen in any direction or route.

In this metaphor comparison, I design the following parallels with a law firm:

1 – As it is not an equity company, every law firm is a dynamic organism, not a rigid one, where relativization (relative valuation) among the partners depends on several factors, such as: technical qualification, clients’ portfolio, revenue volume, market recognition and several others. In my metaphor comparison, it is a FLUID (that adapts to the container where it is poured and reacts to the energy applied to it in a quick and sometimes intense form) or, as it is referred to as the corporate fabric!
2 – The force that agglutinates the fluid particles (the partners) may be compared to the technical, complementation, commercial, personal and ethical affinities that make the autonomous professionals to be closer together and make them get together and create a “law firm”.
3 – The vibration of the particles, that is, the individual characteristics, that can be listed as: different professional experiences, diverse life phases, individual objectives, commercial aggressiveness, ambition and mainly personalities and egos form the “Brownian motion” constantly generating frictions and impacts among the “particles” and tending to separate them.
4 – Finally, the energy involved in this FLUID organism is represented by the pressures to which a law firm is subjected and the biggest one of them is the way how the partners, who are different individuals (previous item), perform their relativization and mutually value themselves and directly interfere in the most sensitive organ of the human being: the pocket!

When this energy is too much in quantity, that is, the differences that can be momentary (example: a partner that in a given long period does not successfully perform and is not entitled to his share in the profits determined by the firm) drastically increase and disturb all the other “particles” of the corporate fabric. And just reminding that this is only an example of the force or energy to which a law firm is subjected.
This relativization formula should be in such a way that it may balance, in an organic, dynamic and fluid manner (as is the law firm), the two opposed forces to which the “particles” are subjected, that is, making the affinities compatible and that amalgamates the partners with their differences and ambitions!

  • (1) The name is given to honor the Botanist Robert Brown. In 1827, when he looked through a microscope the particles are found in pollen grains in the water, he observed that the particles moved through the water, but was not able to determine the mechanisms that caused this motion
  • (2) The Corpuscular Theory of Matter.

José Paulo Graciotti, is consultant and founding Partner of GRACIOTTI ASSESSORIA EMPRESARIAL, engeneer by Escola Politécnica Universidade de São Paulo, with Financial MBA at FGV and specialized in Knowledge Mnagement by FGV. ILTA Member since 1998 (International Legal Technology Association) and ALA (Association of Legal Administrators), with more than 27 years managing Law Firms in Brazil –


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