As the general counsel and partner of a large law firm, playing the instrumental role of leader meant setting goals, reaching his own expectations, and ensuring all overheard was accounted for.
When Mr. Wittstadt and his partner began to build a law firm, they had to work together to set up a proper budget, establish similar ideals on hiring talent, and most importantly; implement organizational goals. The quicker the firm grew , the faster Mr. Wittstadt had to provide assurance to his business partner that the office was well tended, but also all processes were streamlined for the best business model. The firm had four major divisions within our firm, and each one had to be accounted for and be a well-oiled machine for accuracy across the board.
The first step was to create a proper protocol, where Mr. Wittstadt could spot check documents presented in front of him from all the different divisions. Mr. Wittstadt personally managed and was in charge of the national default team, bankruptcy department, and co-managed our accounting department. He would also host weekly meetings for the entire firm for 80 employees in five regional offices located in five states.
The accounting department was run through spreadsheets, so staying on top of the processes in place was a key role. Mr. Wittstadt had to be ready to challenge random markings in the spreadsheets and accounting software. When these random archetypes would appear, he had to be prepared to ask questions and request the accurate backup for what was being reported.
A few years into our firm’s growth, Mr. Wittstadt was in charge of overseeing the operations. He encouraged an open door policy so as to keep up to date on any developments and also be ready to offer praise and recognition for hard work. It also allowed for the added benefit of knowing with certainty who was a hard and diligent worker, so he could monitor and understand the everyday goings-on.
One fateful day, a manager approached Mr. WIttstadt about files missing. This manager had always been a ruthless and meticulous worker since the day Mr. Wittstadt had recruited and selected her to join the business, and her judgment was trusted. After investigating, Mr. WIttstadt determined that a staff bookkeeper was the responsible party. – Having the technological knowledge of our systems, it did not take long to conclude money had been embezzled from the accounts, and that this same staff bookkeeper was again the responsbile party.
Unfortunately, after Mr. Wittstadt terminated the bookkeeper, the office was buglarized and set on fire. The firm lost almost everything, and many other hardworking individuals in the building were affected by this man’s actions. Getting hit with a disaster of this kind caused a total shut down of the business.
Three days later and with the assistance of many loyal employees, Mr. Wittstadt initiated a disaster recovery program. Within one week, the firm was back open. One month later, the firm was back up at full speed.
To counter competitors in using this experience to attempt to express negative talks about our firm, Mr. Wittstadt used this disaster into a marketing tactic. Mr. Wittstadt went to his clients, and showed them the pictures of the fire. He explained and showed how he had initiated the disaster plan and how all client material was saved and protected, and the representation of their matters was not affected.
By overcoming the challenge from this traumatic incidence, and working together to prevail over an unexpected disaster, the result was measurable. The resilience and open communication with employees and clients, and the ability to be proactive in the management of the firm made the firm more successful than ever before. Clients came to with new business and articulated how they could not believe what had done in such a short period after the arson.
The strategic handling of a disastrous moment while remaining honest, and demanding integrity from everyone in the firm, paved the way to the firm's success nationwide. This result would lead to a merger with a larger, national firm a year later.