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5 Law Office Management Tips From Jon Snow

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on April 29, 2015 10:59 AM

This article contains spoilers aplenty. If you're not up to date on the TV version of "Game of Thrones" as of April 29, 2015, go watch that before you get any advice.

Jon Snow may know nothing when it comes to ... well, most things, apparently, but it turns out he's a pretty good manager. (Barely) voted the 98th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Jon has the unenviable task of keeping White Walkers, Wildlings, and Stannis Baratheon's ego at bay.

Believe it or not, there's a lesson for lawyers to be learned from all this -- and it's not that winter is coming. What can you learn from Jon Snow?

1. Follow through with your promises

When Janos Slynt refuses a direct order from new Lord Commander Snow -- and insults him, to boot -- Jon can't let that one slide. Insubordination is a capital offense on The Wall, and Jon can't be seen as weak-willed if he expects his subordinates to do what he says.

Ideally, you're not beheading your associates or support staff, but be consistent. If you make a promise or an agreement, follow through with it so that people know what to expect.

2. Keep your enemies close

Sure, Jon could exile his old enemy, Ser Aliser Thorne, to some far off castle like he tried to do with Slynt. Instead, though, Jon makes Thorne First Ranger. It could be a sign of charity, it could be pragmatic (Thorne is, objectively, a good Ranger), or it could be that Jon wants to keep an eye on Thorne.

While you may not have any enemies in your law firm, you should make it a point to provide support to employees that need additional guidance, rather than getting rid of them immediately. It may turn out that they just need a push in the right direction.

3. Sometimes you need to be merciful

When Mance Rayder, "The King Beyond the Wall," refuses to bend the knee to Stannis Baratheon, Stannis does what he does best: He punishes Mance publicly to demonstrate what happens when you defy the king. Mance is to be burned alive at the stake, but Jon mercifully shoots him in the heart with an arrow before the flames engulf him.

Just because you can do something doesn't mean you must. As the boss, you get to determine whether you chew people out or not. Instead of ratcheting the anger-o-meter up to 11, stop and consider why a person made a mistake, or what effect yelling at them would really have.

4. Know when to bend the rules

Members of the Night's Watch are sworn to celibacy, but Jon was in deep cover when he went north of The Wall and infiltrated the Wildlings. This meant he couldn't say "no" to hooking up with Ygritte, lest he reveal his true intentions.

Yes, rules are rules, but as a manager, you get to set priorities. Don't make a habit of breaking the rules (see no. 1), but don't rigidly enforce the rules "just because." There's always a way to make an exception.

5. Remember your colleagues

Five seasons ago, Jon was a new recruit to the Night's Watch, a nobody. Eventually, he became valet to Lord Mormont, and eventually Lord Commander. He couldn't have done this without the support of the other members of the Watch, though.

If you treat your colleagues poorly, they'll remember it. Jon got elected Lord Commander by the other members of the Night's Watch because he was honest, fair, and competent. That associate or intern at your office today? He or she could have a say in how your career goes tomorrow.

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