Two of my primary responsibilities as a Thompson Burton co-founder and managing partner are to:

  1. Build a culture that makes success more likely; and
  2. Find and recruit the best possible talent

I believe a great culture starts with the right values. Walt Burton and I identified seven core values when we started the firm back in 2012.

In this post, I want to talk about two – Skill and Passion – because they are so important for success. In fact, they are inseparable from it.


Skill is like the moat that protects the castle.

Skill creates separation from a crowded field of legal professionals.

We made a decision during the early days to focus on unique practice areas that require a high degree of experience and Skill.

It’s easy to identify lawyers with tremendous amounts of Skill.  They tend to be more patient.  They also speak with great confidence and authority due to intelligent investments of time and money in the subject matter over the years.

Being a mid-sized firm, every person matters from partners to paralegals. And every person must contribute to their own skills and, by extension, our team’s overall success.


It is hard to define passion, but you know it when you see it.  Justin Campbell joined the firm in 2014. He said of our team:

“They are incredibly smart, very engaged and forward thinking. Everybody is doing good stuff, so I want to do good stuff.”

We talk about passion leading to excellence. That’s critical to anyone’s success.  Passion is the rocket fuel that propels people to dig deep and perfect a craft.

At some point, learning has to be enjoyable, otherwise people will not take the sufficient time to master an area.  Average commitment yields average results.  It’s a formula that might work in certain sectors but never here in the legal profession.

Passion also leads to lasting client relationships. Clients can sense the energy and determine pretty quick if there’s authentic passion.

It takes tremendous Skill and Passion for attorneys in any niche to be successful.  We think we have a great process and economic model that adequately rewards mastery and attracts the right people with the right mindset.

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