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Post # 786 – Thursday, January 4, 2018
Leader’s Advisory Board
may be lonely at the top, but it doesn’t have to be.
new white paper, The Fearless Leader’s
Advisory Board —
published by Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute and written by Patrick J. McKenna,
an internationally recognized author, lecturer, strategist and seasoned
advisor to the leaders of premier law firms — discusses the value for law firm
leaders in establishing an Advisory Board.
than just a sounding board or a chance to schmooze, a carefully selected and
trusted Advisory Board can help a law firm leader avoid potential problems
while solving existing ones, fine-tune strategies and stimulate some new
and innovative ideas. However, as McKenna contends, there are many factors that
have to be considered in selecting and running your Advisory Board for it to
succeed as envisioned, including its size, its rules of operation, and the
relationships of the Board members to the law firm leaders, the firm and each
A good number of other professional service firms, from
accounting to consulting businesses, have found success by forming an external
Advisory Board to counsel the firm’s leadership on various aspects of the
business — everything from operations to planning for growth or enhancing
Think about the last time you met with a group of business
people and had an open discussion, sharing ideas and concerns. An Advisory
Board is a formal version of this process. Unlike a one-time event, you might
think of an Advisory Board as your own special leadership think tank.
Participants can serve as your personal sounding board or a source of ideas and
expertise as well as give you honest and candid advice. If properly
constituted, your Advisory Board will be comprised of people with no axe to
grind, and who want to listen and impart their wisdom.
Click on Cover to Download your Copy of This White Paper
#785 – Thursday, December 14, 2017
2017 Year End Review
often asked about my consulting practice, what kinds of assignments I get
called in on, for what sized firms; what I’m currently researching and writing
about, and just generally how I spend my professional time. As always, at
this time of the year, I looked back over my various activities. With
some of these items (like clients served) activity is not a sufficient measure;
results and the client’s satisfaction are really what counts (and to that end,
you can find over 100 client testimonials and endorsements throughout this web
site). But for purposes of looking at where one’s time is invested, here
is what my 2017 looked like:
/ FIRMS SERVED
Nature of Assignments:
developing / implementing strategic plans
governance and leadership counsel
client relations and marketing advice
Firm Size Range:
firms of over 500 attorneys
firms of 301 to 500 attorneys
firms of 100 to 300 attorneys
corporate legal departments
Participated in 5 Conference, Workshop, MasterClass and Webinar Events
Co-facilitator – First 100 Days Masterclass
Facilitator – Practice Group Leaders Workshops
Francisco in February / Chicago in August) - Presenter – Chief Strategy Officer Summit (New York in May)
- Differentiation Webinar –
Ark US Events (October)
OTHER PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES
• Advisory Board Member - True
Balance Longevity Institute Inc.
True Balance is the Canadian
leader in providing Regenerative and Anti-Aging Medicine, Bioidentical Hormone
Replacement Therapy and Medical Aesthetics from five clinics throughout Alberta
and British Columbia.
Authored One (1) New Book:
The Changing of The Guard:
Selecting Your Next Firm Leader (Second Revised Edition)
Chapter to Seven (7) New Books from
international publishing houses in Europe, India and the United Kingdom:
Practice Group Leadership (Ark
- Measuring and
Managing Performance for Law Firms (Ark Publishing, 2017)
- Smarter Lateral
Hiring for Law Firms (Ark
- Managing Your
Legal Organization: Global Insights (Magic Lawyers Publishing, New Delhi, India,
- Rise of The
Legal COO (Ark Publishing, 2017)
- Recruiting And
Retaining Legal Talent (Global Law & Business, 2017)
- Managing Legal Change
Initiatives (Ark Publishing, 2017)
• Contributor to Two (2)
White Papers [Thomson Reuters]
Fearless: Facing Uncertainty in The Legal Market With Confidence - Interview commentary
The Fearless Leader’s
Advisory Board - author
Authored or Contributed to 42 Articles
in 11 different international Publications including:
Business World Magazine
Counsel – Legal Practice and Management Report
Practice Link for Law Firm Leaders
of Legal Administrators Newsletter
Two new issues (Spring & Fall) of my INTERNATIONAL REVIEW 24-page glossy
magazine were produced and distributed to 1800 firm leaders.
Wrote and posted 12 articles
covering leadership and strategy issues on my LinkedIn site.
• Co-Founder and Member of
Legal Institute for Forward Thinking
L.I.F.T. is an international
Think-Tank and coalition of recognized thought-leaders that meets to
brainstorm, debate and analyze top issues and future trends impacting the legal
industry with an objective of “raising the awareness of market disruption.”
• Acknowledged by
Legal Business World Magazine
- Awarded a Cover Article for one of my written contributions
- Recognized by the readers as one of seven "International Thought Leaders"
all of my valued clients, colleagues and friends, I want to say thank you for
allowing me to spend time with you; for your confidence, your commitment and
I wish you and your
families the Very Best in 2018
Post #784 - Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Your Growth Strategy: Seeking Clear Blue Water
The New issue of LEGAL BUSINESS WORLD is now available with great contributions from Thought Leaders and Legal Experts.
Way, Start adapting your firm today to the buyer’s market in legal services, Jordan
Law and Engineering Should Share Curriculum, Daniel B. Rodriguez/Julio
How Lawyers Benefit from Legal Project Management, Hans Schuurman
Legal Data Analytics, Can Lawyers Be Data Analysts? Jodie Baker
The Immediate Impact of Blockchain on the Legal Industry, Joseph Raczynski
a Legal Function Beyond Home Jurisdiction, Kenneth Tung
is Not a Four-Letter Word, Lucy Endel Bassli
The Ethical Lawyer, Legal Ethics as B.D. opportunity, Karolina Dorenbos
Over Legal Operations, Meet BIPIG, Jennifer Vandersmisse/Ed Medlin
to Qualify Effective Referral Sources, David Ackert
European Law Firm Association Country by Country Guide
• Design Thinking Will Change the Practice of Law, Alix Devendra/Cat
AND MORE . . .
Download your copy in the Library or
read it now
Post # 783 – Sunday, October 29, 2017
Should Law Firm Leaders Build A Personal Brand?
Exactly 10 years ago, in March 2007, at a time when
most firms were doing very well economically, a survey was conducted of the
profession to determine how certain firm leaders were perceived. A lot has
happened since 2007. So, for the fourth in a series of Leader’s Pulse
Surveys conducted by Patrick McKenna and David Parnell, they repeated
that same survey in October, asking lawyers, specifically those in some form of
leadership position (firm leaders, office heads, practice group leaders,
elected board members), to reflect upon the various firm leaders that they have
met, observed and/or read about across the country and respond to three
Read the entire article here.
Post # 782 – Sunday, October 29, 2017
Horse-Races Don't Usually End Well!
When a firm leader's departure is
predictable, firms need to take appropriate steps to ensure a controlled and
effective succession process minimizing the inevitable 'disruption' likely to
Having a contested election isn’t necessarily a negative, it
only becomes problematic when it becomes public and political. By way of
example, I was struck only last week by the terms used in the legal press as
yet another law firm was characterized as 'set for a contested election';
'candidates emerge for contest'; and 'hats in the ring'. In this case,
the chair’s role at the Eversheds Sutherland firm was now in the news as
'Partners are set to go head-to-head' to succeed Paul Smith the firm’s current
chairman. And the media are loving it! 'According to (anonymous) partners
within the firm' three specific names have already been announced.
And here is where it all begins to go off the rails!
Read the entire article here.
Post #781 – Wednesday,
September 20, 2017
The Fall-Winter Issue of my International Review
Magazine is Now Available
Once again I am pleased to
share the results of a collaboration with my good friend and colleague, David
Parnell whose regular Forbes column is avidly read by leaders throughout the
legal community. Law Firm Strategic Planning: A
Report on The State of The Art is the product of an extensive survey we
conducted this summer. We obtained firm leaders specific responses to
18 questions covering everything from who was involved in developing their
current strategic plan and how long it took, to how satisfied they were and the
one thing they would change with respect to their efforts in the future.
Break Your Team Out Of It’s Rut & Spark Some New Strategic Ideas is a fairly lengthy but
prescriptive guide for how one goes about engaging the members of your group or
team in effectively brainstorming. So clear
out the cobwebs at your next meeting, jump-start your creative thinking, launch
your partner’s minds moving in productive directions, pop some new ideas out of
your intellectual toasters and get energized to take action!
final selection, Becoming A Visionary Law Firm: Developing Board Foresight was co-authored with
Vincent Cino, an exceptional firm leader, Chairman of Jackson Lewis, a Global
100 firm. It describes the process that
his Board has embraced for getting everyone sensitized to the accelerating pace
of change enveloping the profession and helping focus the Board’s attention on
what specific areas to take action.
Click on the cover to download your complimentary
PDF copy of this magazine
Post #780 – Monday,
September 4, 2017
Two New Book Contributions
I’m pleased to have contributed
Chapters to two new books that have just been released:
MANAGING LEGAL CHANGE
Successfully managing a change initiative is no simple feat,
regardless of the size of the firm – distilling the process of change into a
workforce takes careful planning and support. Change is stressful and difficult
for people to process and accept, as we often cling to what we know. This is
especially true of lawyers, who are notoriously averse to change.
Managing Legal Change Initiatives
looks to illustrate the best methods of introducing and managing change in a
sector that is known for being adverse to it. The book highlights the critical
obstacles and pitfalls that law firms will face during transitional periods,
and outlines some of the best methods of approaching organizational change;
from building a change framework to follow, to encouraging a shift in partner
behavior through the compensation strategy. This new book also explores why
change is so difficult for individuals – with discussion of the neuroscience
behind change, and the role of emotional intelligence in leaders to help garner
EFFECTIVE PRACTICE GROUP
As firms compete increasingly at practice group level, leaders
are being asked to run their groups like business units; to develop and
implement a strategic plan that supports the goals and competitiveness of the
firm; and to coordinate and lead their partners to enhance the efficiency,
performance, and profitability of their groups. Many firm leaders complain that
some of their group heads are not producing the results they want to see. But
how many practice group leaders receive the tools and support they need to
succeed in this critical role? How many are selected for demonstrable
leadership skills? And how often are they held accountable for how well – or
otherwise – they perform in the role?
With contributions from a wide range of experts, Effective
Practice Group Leadership explores these key questions and more. The
book examines the demanding role of the practice group leader (PGL) in law
firms today, the challenges of the role – from gaining buy-in for group
initiatives to approaches to measuring and managing performance of the leader
and the group – and demonstrates the enormous contribution PGLs can make to the
profitability and performance of their law firms, when armed with the tools and
For More Infomation - https://www.ark-group.com
Post #779 - Friday,
September 1, 2017
The Best Leaders Ask
Really Good Questions
There can be no real glue holding
any firm together and certainly no leadership, without some degree of intimacy
- some human acknowledgement of one another; that we are all people, each one
with a unique story, unique difficulties and unique aspirations.
It all starts with getting to know
your people, their strengths, their shortcomings; their dreams, and their
fears. And to that end there is no
substitute for face-to-face human interaction.
The very best way to get to know what other people in your firm want is
to sit down and communicate with them about it - on their own turf.
Explore with each member of your
* What do you want to be known
* What makes you soar – what is
your superpower? About what do you have
a burning passion?
* What work do you find absorbing,
* What is your personal
agenda? What do you want to prove to
* What do you want most from being
an active member of this firm?
Our professionals need to either
find the work they love and get passionate about their profession or get
out. This is where too many “wanna-be
professionals” succumb to the victimitis virus.
“How can I spend time developing a practice that will make me famous
tomorrow, when I’m only rewarded for my billable production today?” they
sniffle. Some people spend more time
planning their vacations then they do their professional careers.
The good news is that each of us
thrives to the extent that we can achieve some form of distinction - an
approach to specialized expertise or excellence in client service, or an
innovative approach to client problem solving.
It taps into the deep craving we all have to make a difference. The questions that we must help each of our
professionals face and answer effectively is:
“How do you want to be positioned in the market and in the minds of your
• “What is clearly unusual,
uniquely distinctive and of great value to clients about the services you
If you feel that their answer, in
about 25 words or less, is not convincing to a prospective client, they need
your help and guidance in working through the future of their practice and
career development. You need to help them
understand that the only true professional career security is in being more
valuable to clients tomorrow than they were yesterday.
A painless way to do this might be
• “Tell me about one of your most
challenging client matters and without any modesty tell me why that assignment
was special for what you managed to accomplish.”
Taking that forward, have them
write out the specific details concerning three of their major client
accomplishments over the past eighteen to twenty-four months. Have them consider how any one of those
successes may signal the possibility that other clients could also be facing
the same problems that they have already solved. Have them consider how fundamentally
different that might be for the kind of practice they could invest in
developing in the coming months.
Now ask them: “Could all of this point to the
beginnings of some new area of personal and professional distinction?”
Post #778 – Friday,
September 1, 2017
Another Leadership Nugget I Overheard
As a leader you are often
surrounded by people who are content to stay where they are. They do what is expected, but just
enough. They play it safe and never go
beyond what’s expected; head down, simply following the ones in front. They are the 80 percent who accomplish the 20
percent. They go with the flow, but are
soon “hooked” by their own disengagement.
They get entangled in the nets of complacency. Today, it seems, for all too many people it’s
5 p.m. not only somewhere, but everywhere.
Then there are the
outliers – the 20 percent who accomplish the 80 percent – who have the hustle
and hunger that allows them to rise above the rest. If only those qualities could be taught to
the others! CEOs will hire hunger and
hustle over pedigree any day.
The talented few don’t
have jobs, they have purpose; they radiate passion. Especially people who are diverse in thought,
experiences and backgrounds – they are incredibly agile around the new and
different, and willingly become fish out of water who thrust themselves into
unfamiliar environments. Insatiably
curious about what is around the next bend, they balance past experiences with
first-time challenges. They don’t shy
from the rapids or the shoals, nor do they avoid the deep waters where few
go. They don’t just cope with change,
they welcome and even instigate it. They
are the innovators and disruptors who aren’t caught up in the ordinary.
What about you?
Compliments of Gary Burnison, CEO – Korn
Rant #777 – Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Six Great Leadership Nuggets I've Overheard
• When hiring
candidates, ask for their operating manual.
candidates: “Imagine you're a robot. What does your manual say under 'ideal
operating conditions.'” Once they
answer, follow-up with this question: “What does the 'warning label' say?” You're likely to get insightful, unpredictable
and even humorous answers but this is likely to be very subtle way of gauging an
individual’s self-awareness and revealing their personality.
• Make speed your leadership obsession.
I have long believed that
the two attributes most important to having the right professionals working
along side you is having talent that has “highly attuned attention to detail”
and an “fanatical sense of urgency.”
Many a firm leader and CEO has spoken about how speed is the ultimate
competitive weapon in business. All else
being equal the fastest competitor in any given market will win. As one CEO expressed it, “challenge the
when!” For my part, I continue to be
absolutely amazed at just how often the best articulated plans and actions are
discussed in meetings without any attention being directed to who is going to
do what and by when. It’s not that
everything needs to be done NOW, but for items on your critical path, it’s
always useful to challenge the due date. All it takes is asking the simplest
can't this be done sooner?” Asking it methodically, reliably and habitually can have a
profound impact on the speed of your organization
• Practice saying “No” real often.
As you get into a
leadership position you have more people reaching out to you, more invitations
to meetings, more requests for you to make a decision, more emails to read and
respond to and as one leader phrased it – death by a thousand paper cuts. Saying no is not easy, especially as you want
to be helpful and love to see yourself as a problem solver. But you have to
draw the line somewhere. To do this
most important thing is that you close the door to further communication. Do it nicely in a way that truthfully
explains the situation, but don’t leave things open-ended. Try this: “Great to hear from you.
Unfortunately, I’m under some extreme pressure to deliver against some very
ambitious goals. My sincere thanks for understanding.”
• Expect to be attacked.
If you are at all effective as a leader you may expect that some
people will react negatively to what you are declaring as your priorities and
then begin a campaign of sabotage. In
some instances their resistance will be very overt - characterized
by the obvious and verbalized messages that let you know clearly that someone
is not supportive. As frustrating as
open resistance can be, the good news in these situations is that there are no
surprises. You know exactly where someone is coming from. In other cases it will be very subtle, which
may look like a smile to their face but undermining behavior behind your
back. Being attacked comes with the job. Just recognize that it is not about you as
much as it is about people’s insecurities, people trying to measure up and
just trying to merely hold on to what they have or where they are.
• Make sharing credit a part of your meeting agenda
Periodically, start off meetings with team members sharing
all the good things that have happened since the last meeting. Examples include specific acknowledgments of
individuals, announcement of successes — even small ones — or expressing
gratitude for the team in general. This
is a quick activity that can boost morale and make it easier for those who are
unaccustomed to giving or receiving appreciation.
• Measure your
people’s happiness as a performance indicator.
satisfaction is an important and useful leading indicator of productivity. A lot more firms are starting to proactively
keep tabs on how their people, both professionals and staff, are feeling about
their work. One tactic is to run an
anonymous survey (using a tool like Glint) that asks people
how willing they are to go above and beyond, whether they see themselves
staying at the firm for more than a couple of years, and whether they'd
recommend working at the firm to friends.
Benchmark the results you get every six months to make sure you're
maintaining or getting better.
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