Welcome to Godfrey | Johnson, P.C.! With the commencement of your work here, you have begun a new chapter in your professional life that we sincerely hope you find both rewarding and challenging. More to the point, we hope that your work here brings you to new and higher levels of professional performance and achievement than you could reach in other firms. We will work hard together with you to bring this goal to fruition. You will find the Firm’s specialized technology and methods to be of inestimable value in propelling you to a higher strata of professional performance.
Regardless of your position in the Firm, whether salaried or not, full or part-time, all employment here is governed by Firm Policy and Procedures (which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety) and the directives given by senior Firm personnel.
This particular Policy will introduce you to the fundamental terms and conditions to which you agree by accepting and continuing employment in the Firm; it also documents the agreements that govern our relationship in the event that your employment with the Firm ends.
The Firm reserves the right to alter, amend or terminate any Policy, Procedure or employment benefits at any time. If the changes are major, you may be notified by oral or written alerts to review changes or new Policies or Procedures or amendments to the Firm’s benefit plans, which are documented in separately written financial plans issued by our retirement benefits managers, who serve the firm as outside consultants and advisors.
It is necessary for you to periodically re-read the Firm’s Policy and Procedures in order to ensure that your knowledge is refreshed and current.
All employment with Godfrey | Johnson, P.C. is “at-will,” meaning that the employment relationship may be terminated at any time by the Firm or the employee, with or without cause, warning or any form of progressive discipline. Any remarks, representations, or statements made by the Firm or its personnel, whether orally or in writing, concerning the Firm’s goals for the treatment of its personnel are expressions of the Firm’s goals, but are not enforceable as a contract or promise.
Nothing in the firm’s Policy or Procedures shall be construed to create any requirement of progressive discipline or particular steps that must be followed by the Firm prior to any adverse employment action, or to establish any required grounds that must be established prior to any any adverse employment action; no such requirements exist unless embodied in a separate written employment contract.
The Firm makes no representation regarding the duration of employment, and provides this notice that unsatisfactory behavior or performance (even if not in direct contravention of a written Policy, Procedure or Directive) may result in adverse employment action on the part of the Firm.
Performance Indicators And Rewards
The Firm observes, measures and records when possible, various performance indicators such as your professional judgment, your productivity, your quality of work, your demonstrated level of skill and commitment to improvement, your marketing effectiveness, your level of personal responsibility, your attitude, how you get along with your co-workers and supervisors, your reliability and other factors.
Your compensation, especially decisions regarding subjective bonuses (bonuses other than the objective bonuses given under the Firm’s Policies relating to client generation and production) and salary raises, will be influenced by these and other factors. On this point, cross-reference our Policy entitled “Qualifications For Employment.”) Many of the indicators weighed by the Firm are subjective.
Objectively measurable indicators, such as weekly billing statistics, business development statistics, completion of important administrative tasks, and conspicuously contributing to the smooth and efficient operation of the Firm are weighed together with more subjective factors, such as to the quality of written work, verbal communication and interpersonal skills, appearance, professionalism and attention to detail. Results in cases and manifestations of client satisfaction are important aspects of performance, as are the manner in which an employee interacts with his or her co-workers, opposing counsel, court personnel and others.
Written and oral feedback regarding your performance.
In a law firm the size of ours, feedback relating to your performance is likely to be provided to you on an ongoing basis by your colleagues within and outside the Firm, by clients and occasionally by judges. We do not have any formal system for periodic salary or performance reviews. Instead, Employees receive ongoing written and oral feedback. This feedback can be informal or formal, including Commendations, discretionary bonuses and raises to acknowledge exemplary performance.
Where an acute need for improvement is present, Critiques, Study Orders and Reprimands may be issued orally or in writing to assist employees in making necessary improvements unless the Firm concludes that the employment relationship should be ended. As set forth above, the Firm reserves the right to apply its own subjective judgment on these issues and no form of progressive discipline is promised.
How to deal with praise: When you do particularly well, which we expect, you will be praised, and in some instances given bonuses or raises. When that happens, it is very important to avoid falling prey to the temptation to believe that you no longer need to put forth your best efforts. As you read these words, you may be wondering why we bothered to include them in this Policy, but experience has taught us that this point requires emphasis, for we have seen more than just a few lawyers react to praise by either relaxing their work standards or bragging and strutting about the office in a way that alienates others. Accept your praise with humility and enjoy it, while keeping up what is bringing you success!
How to deal with criticism: It is necessary for an employee to be responsive to feedback and take it seriously, while at the same time having a willingness and the emotional ability to handle criticism or suggestions for improvement. As an elite litigation firm, we are regularly entrusted with client matters of extreme importance, requiring the highest degree of skill. This reality forces us to be more concerned with your career growth and how we serve our clients than with your immediate feelings. If we go to the trouble of informing you how you can or should improve your performance, you should neither ignore these inputs nor let them drag you down.
Keep this fundamental principle in mind: any negative feedback you may receive is intended to strengthen you and improve your career path!
As a salaried employee’s value to the Firm increases over time, we hope to occasionally raise his or her base salary to acknowledge and reward that improvement in value. The term “value” as we use it here encompasses both profitability, marketing skill and other valuable contributions to Firm operations. Firm economics and cash flow have a tremendous impact on whether we can afford to give an employee a raise or bonus.
It is important to remember that you do not have to wait for a pay raise in order to increase your compensation, for we have implemented two objective bonus plans that can provide nearly immediate supplemental compensation in addition to your base salary: the Marketing Incentive Bonus Plan and the Hourly Production Bonus Plan. Especially when earned together, these two bonus opportunities can significantly augment a lawyer’s pay; shareholder status is not a requirement for eligibility to enjoy these bonuses!
The value of a growing professional’s contributions to the Firm tend to improve steadily over time, but the passage of time alone does not guarantee higher pay.
Some lawyers just keep getting better and better—more and more valuable—while others reach a plateau and begin to stagnate. Employees who stagnate find that their salary also stagnates. Where you fit along this spectrum is controlled by you alone, and is a function of how seriously you take your own career. It would not be reasonable for any employee to expect increases in compensation without first demonstrating a corresponding improvement in production, quality of work, new business or other valuable contributions to the Firm.
While each employee of the Firm bears primary responsibility for his or her professional development, we recognize that one of the incentives to work with us is the shared goal of your professional development. The more you wish the Firm to contribute to your success, the more you should contribute to the Firm’s success. This is merely common sense. It is with these realities in mind that we are eager to help you chart your career path to reach higher levels of ability, performance, productivity and profitability.
What does it take to get a raise?
For much greater detail on the subject of increasing your compensation, see our Policy on Qualifications for Employment, particularly the section entitled “What Does It Take To Become An Income Partner?
Subject to the economic realities of business, and based upon demonstration over time of your steadily improving merit, we want you to make more money. Candidly, we want you to make more money for the Firm and to contribute more to the Firm’s success, and we are eager to improve you compensation if you do so. Hence, two things must happen for you to obtain increased compensation: your professional contributions to the Firm must consistently improve over time, and the Firm must be in an economic position to pay you more. When a law firm is populated with high quality professional staffers who do these things, it is common for everyone to make more money.
A note of caution: We occasionally have employed professionals whose performance has become lackluster or substandard, and who seek raises on the bases that they are not being paid enough to justify working harder. They sometimes say, “I’ll be more motivated if I get more money.” Other times, they simply project an attitude of lethargy or indifference in the hope that we will wonder what is wrong and offer them a raise to help them with their morale. We have discovered that professionals who approach their employment in such a fashion invariably cause long-term difficulties due their impaired ability to recognize the realities of professional life. Once we spot such a pattern in an employee, we tend to replace him or her very quickly.
Discipline and Discharge
As mentioned above, Just as we reserve the right to pay bonuses, award promotions, raise pay or reward excellent performance, we reserve the right to discipline, demote or discharge any employee as we see fit. By working here, every employee demonstrates acceptance of the Firm’s Policy.
Demotions, discipline and terminations usually (but not always) arise in the context of employee dishonesty, substandard quality of work, chronically poor judgment and/or poor relations with others in the legal community or the Firm.
In the event of adverse employment action, employees are not entitled to a formal statement of any basis for termination; however adverse employment actions such as critiques, warnings, reprimands and demotions will universally be accompanied by an explanation of the reasons for them. The same is not necessarily true with respect to outright discharge of employees, for once such a truly troublesome and persistent situation arises, providing criticism or feedback is rarely valuable and becomes an element of lost time for the Firm.
In the rare event that an employee is discharged despite the satisfactory nature of employment, such as in the case of a financially-driven reduction in force, employees may in the sole discretion of the Firm, be given severance pay, written and verbal references, letters of recommendation, and other assistance in securing new employment, but there is no guarantee or expectation of such inherent in your employment here. Moreover, employees are not entitled to any formal appeal in the event of termination.
Termination of Employment
This Policy exists to provide advance knowledge to any employee who may later be terminated regarding the nature of the Firm’s plans and expectations following an end to the employment relationship, and to guide and inform continuing staff members regarding those requirements.
Termination and notice.
As mentioned in other portions of the Firm’s Policy, all employment is terminable at will, with or without cause or prior notice.
When we use the word terminate (and all derivations thereof) in the context of employment, we simply mean the end of the employment relationship, regardless of whether the employee resigns or is fired, with or without cause.
The term notice [of termination] refers to the employee notifying the Firm of the fact that he or she is quitting, resigning or leaving for any reason, as well as the Firm notifying an employee of the end of the employment relationship, whether for cause or otherwise. Use of the word notice does not imply advance notice, nor does it imply an obligation on the part of the Firm to provide warnings, corrective periods or any interval between the notice and the effective date of the termination of employment.
Notice of termination may be oral or written.
The Firm and all employees may give notice of termination of employment orally or in writing. No reasons need be stated by either the employee or the Firm. No advance notice is required by either, though the Firm respectfully asks employees who are leaving to provide advance notice if they are leaving on good terms. In some cases, decided purely on a case-by-case basis, the Firm may elect to provide some form of severance pay, supplemental compensation, or extend benefits temporarily after the cessation of employment, but the Firm is not required to do so.
In relation to confidentiality of data, all employees must recognize that information to which they are exposed or granted access during their employment is considered proprietary, confidential and may be subject to legal privileges. For more information on this subject, see our Policy regarding Privileges and Confidentiality. For the sake of brevity, information which is confidential, proprietary and/or privileged may be referred to in the Firm’s Policy and Procedures merely as “confidential information.”
No employee may retain copies of or access to confidential physical or electronic documents, data or files (including client files and any proprietary and confidential firm material) after termination unless we agree otherwise in writing or a client directs otherwise. The Firm may bring legal action if necessary to recover or prevent such access, and has done so in the past, in order to protect client confidentiality and Firm proprietary data. All electronic information residing on personal electronic devices (such as computers, tablets, phones or storage devices) remain the property of the Firm regardless of whether the device is owned by the Firm or the employee, and must be surrendered or provably and securely deleted by upon termination of employment.
Former employees may be required to execute sworn statements or affidavits attesting to compliance with this requirement as a prerequisite of receiving final payment of salary or wages. Former employees refusing to make such a certification may be presumed to have retained, improperly and without authorization, confidential or proprietary information, which presumption shall be construed as adequate basis for the Firm to pursue enforcement of this provision in any court of competent jurisdiction.
As with all Firm Policy and Procedures, all employees agree with these conditions, and manifest that agreement by continuing to work in the Firm. We rely upon your agreement as manifested by your continuing to work here from day to day.
Final paychecks; return of keys, property & data.
Upon termination of an employment relationship, all employees agree to immediately surrender their office keys, Firm-provided electronic equipment and other gear loaned to employees, and all confidential data, as well as access to the same. Compliance with this provision is a condition precedent to a departing employee’s receipt of a final paycheck. When an employee is terminated, timing of delivery of final pay is governed generally by C.R.S. 8-4-105(1)(b), which provides in relevant part as follows:
(1) No employer shall make a deduction from the wages or compensation of an employee except as follows:
. . .
(b) Deductions for loans, advances, goods or services, and equipment or property provided by an employer to an employee pursuant to a written agreement between such employer and employee, so long as it is enforceable and not in violation of law;
. . .
(e) A deduction for the amount of money or the value of property that the employee failed to properly pay or return to the employer in the case where a terminated employee was entrusted during his or her employment with the collection, disbursement, or handling of such money or property.
Our Policy regarding final pay complies with the above statutory provisions: we may deduct from final pay those items contemplated by the statute and hereby give formal notice of said Policy, with which you agree by accepting and continuing your employment with the Firm. Of course, the above-cited statute contains several other instances when an employer may make deductions, but these two are cited to illustrate and support our Policy.
When an employee is terminated, he or she must immediately surrender in good condition to the Firm all equipment entrusted to him or her for use during the employment relationship, including but not limited to computers, peripheral hardware, tablets (iPads), phones, projection and presentation equipment, licenses, password-protected software and hardware access, keys, books, magazines and other reference material, credit cards, credit accounts and funds advanced for Firm expenses not so expended at the time of notice of termination, and all other items of value.
If Firm materials are not returned in good condition to the Firm (at the offices in which the employee was employed) at the time of termination, the Firm may: (a) withhold final pay; (b) commence a collection action to recover the same with the prevailing party entitled to an award of attorneys fees and costs of suit; and/or (c) withhold or deduct the replacement cost of the equipment from any final pay due and owing to the employee at the time of termination. This provision also applies to the cost of repairing damaged equipment if that damage occurred while the equipment was entrusted to the employee, as well as to the cost of re-keying or replacing office locks and protecting electronic access to privileged, proprietary or confidential electronic data.
References for former employees.
The Firm reserves the right to exercise its discretion in relation to references for former employees. The Firm may provide favorable or unfavorable references as it sees fit. Employees who leave on good terms are often (though not in all cases) afforded letters of recommendation and the ability to use the Firm as a reference with confidence that he or she will be given favorable reviews.
Employees who depart on bad terms or whose performance was unsatisfactory may receive negative references without letters of recommendation, and without prior notice.
No employee is entitled to a favorable reference, and the Firm may decline to provide references other than to truthfully respond to inquiries regarding former employees by confirming dates of employment and position as the Firm sees fit. The decision in this regard shall be made solely by the President of the Firm and those who are expressly and specifically authorized by the President to do so, but no one else may make that decision or act without authorization in the context of commentary regarding former employees.
WARNING! No references may be supplied by any employee for any former employee without prior and direct written authorization from the President of the Firm.
It sometimes happens that a person is not eligible for favorable references, but has friendships with co-workers that survive the termination of employment. It is human nature to want to help out friends who no longer work here in connection with the former employee’s job search.
Unfortunately, however, such admirable charitable impulses can expose the Firm to liability under more than one potentially applicable theory of law, including both civil liability and administrative action by state and federal agencies. Similarly, poor relations between employees may motivate a person still working here to make unfavorable remarks about former employees that are undeserved. Those motivations and perceptions may or may not be: (a) well grounded in fact; (b) motivated by emotion; or (c) based upon complete information. Whether the opinions and impressions of a person called upon to make an unauthorized comment regarding a former employee are well grounded or reasonably held is not the issue. What matters is that the Firm must be able to restrict and control the representations made by its through its personnel to outside entities, other employers, state, municipal or federal agencies and individuals.
Unauthorized employment references, whether positive or negative, must be reported to the Firm immediately. Any person learning of such an event, even if not actually giving the reference, must report knowledge of that event to the President without delay, so that the Firm may correct any misstatements of its official position regarding former employees. The Firm reserves the right to seek indemnification from any person violating these requirements if unauthorized references or commentary regarding former employees leads to business losses, liability (including attorneys fees and court costs) or the like.
When asked by a former employee to provide references, a current employee should respond by stating, “You know that we have a policy that places my employment at risk if I try to help you out that way, without prior written authorization from the President of the Firm, who is really the person with whom you must have this conversation. I’ll put in a good word for you here at the Firm to try to help you, but I can’t take it upon myself to violate the Firm’s policy in this regard.”
When consulted by an outside person or organization (including but not limited to state and federal agencies, potential employers, subsequent actual employers, legal counsel for former employees, clients or others), current employees should refer the inquirer to the President of the Firm. The following example of such a conversation is offered as a model:
Caller: I was wondering if you could give me some information about [name of former employee].
Firm employee: I’m afraid I’m not the right person to ask. I can have the right person here call you about that.
Caller: Don’t worry! I’ll keep it confidential. I just want your personal opinion.
Firm employee: I understand, but we do have a very strict policy governing commentary about former employees. I’ll get you in touch with the person who can answer your inquiry. Would you care to hold, or would you prefer I have that person call you later?
What about the right to free speech? The right to free speech does not apply to private employers’ restrictions on the dissemination or disclosure of information, and the potential hazards to the Firm warrant the need for control over this type of information, even if an individual is only expressing a “personal opinion.”
In the event of any dispute between the Firm and any past or former employee or contractor arising out of, or in connection with employment or a contract for services, such disputes must be resolved in District Court for the District of Colorado, County of Douglas, with the right to a jury afforded to either party as otherwise provided by law, and with the prevailing party in such an action being entitled to an award of reasonable attorneys fees and actual costs incurred in the action. This provision may be waived by the agreement of the Firm to proceed in arbitration, provided the past or present employee so agrees.