Date of Award

Spring 2011

Degree Type

Professional Project

Degree Name

Masters in Leadership Studies


College of Professional Studies


Culture can be defined as the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes one group or category of people from another. Organizational culture is an idea in the field of organizational studies and management which describes the psychology, attitudes, experiences, beliefs and values (personal and cultural values) of an organization. There are many studies on Organizational Culture applied to corporations. There are very few studies of Organizational Culture applied to law firms. This is a study of Organizational Culture in Wisconsin Large Law Firms. This study does not attempt to define specific cultural knowledge of large Wisconsin law firms but instead assesses whether an organizational culture is positive or negative. The hypothesis of this study is as follows. The practice of law is now the business of law. Corporate clients are more sophisticated and in today’s economy have more leverage when hiring large law firms. At the same time technology has flattened the playing field making law firms more similar than different. There is a convergence between large law firms and the output has been commoditized. Law firms with identifiable positive cultures will thrive, while those firms that have a negative culture are less likely to survive. As law firms adapt to the "new normal" they are undergoing change. Studies show that organizations with a positive culture adapt to change better than organizations with a negative culture. The Organizational Culture Inventory® (OCI®) is the most widely used and thorough researched tool for measuring organizational culture in the world. The inventory presents a list of 120 statements which describe some of the behaviors that might be expected or implicitly required of members of organizations. This quantitative survey was deployed to the 20 largest law firms in Wisconsin. Survey participants included law firm administrators, managing partners and practice group leaders. The results of the survey showed that the overall law firm culture in Wisconsin is positive. Further study is suggested to understand organizational culture within individual law firms as well as law firms outside Wisconsin.