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Post # 798 – October 5, 2018
Advent of Micro Niches (Part 1)
There was a
time when we simply organized our law firms vertically, by the same subject
matter we studied in law school — a corporate practice, a litigation practice,
a labor and employment practice and so forth.
So that today, we tend to think of the typical labor and employment practice
as highly commoditized with practitioners doing low-value work for highly
discounted fees. In the real world,
however, those looking at the trends, monitoring the pace of change, and
exploring where new client needs may be, are discovering the answers might be
in highly-specialized micro-niches.
the micro niches in your legal practice? And how can you use them to find new
clients and better service your existing ones?
Post #797 – October 1, 2018
You Need To Know Has An Expiration Date
As a professional one
of the things we tend to ignore and overlook is that everything we know has an
expiration date. In an earlier era, many professionals retired having
practiced in the same area, having attained competency and then spent their
time doing pretty much the same thing from the day they entered their
profession. Today, continuous learning and skill building are conditions
precedent to maintain a healthy career.
Read this entire article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/everything-you-know-has-expiration-date-patrick-j-mckenna
Post #796 – September 15, 2018
A Truly Different Perspective on The Big 4
There is a lot of buzz throughout the legal profession as of
recent, regarding the threat coming from the large accounting firms. However, it should be noted that the Big Four
accounting and audit firms – KPMG, Deloitte, EY and PwC – are in trouble like
never before. They face a multitude of
existential pressures all at once. First,
traditional accounting has been hit with a series of major (and expensive)
auditing scandals, such as TBW-Colonial and Lehman Brothers in the US;
Carillion in the UK; and the Guptas in South Africa.
One result is widespread concern that the current style of
auditing has become a hollow ritual that provides little assurance for investors,
lenders and employees. Regulators are
talking about forcibly breaking up the Big Four in the UK, taking antitrust
action in Italy, and pulling back from relying on the firms to advise the
government in Australia. In China, the
government is creating new firms to take on the Big Four in the marketplace.
Changing times are bringing a range of disruptions: Technologies
— such as digital analytics, cognitive AI, big data and blockchain — are
rapidly making old forms of auditing obsolete. A new era of transparency
(including a culture of hair-trigger leaking) is undermining services that
depend on secrecy, such as Big Four tax avoidance services; think Lux Leaks,
Paradise Papers and Panama Papers.
Within the Big Four sphere, tensions have been mounting, including
increasing conflicts between advisory services and auditing as firms enter new
fields, such as marketing, law, real estate and IT. And the #Metoo
movement has exposed a darker underside within the firms’ cultures. Finally, the limitations of the Big Four’s
thinly capitalized international franchise structures make it difficult to
change direction, or to make large investments in IT and IP. Without
conventional corporate structures, the firms can’t raise capital easily.
That’s not to suggest that they
are not a threat to the legal profession only to cite some of the external
changes that the Big 4 are having to contend with. For more on this subject, check out the
writings of Professor Ian Gow at the University of Melbourne.
Post # 795 – August 22, 2018
In new white paper published
by Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute, authors Patrick J. McKenna and
David J. Parnell delve into what it takes to be a law firm leader today,
culling valuable insight from a survey of law firm leaders and identifying some
key issues related to the role of being firm chair or managing partner.
The white paper is based on
a comprehensive 30-question survey, distributed in June and July to a group of
about 300 law firm leaders, many among the Am Law 100 and 200 ranked
firms. The data uncovered some surprising
and potentially valuable findings, according to the authors.
For example, they found that
many leaders of America’s largest firms who are managing multi-million-dollar
businesses are too often thrust into the role with minimal planning time and no
clear job description. “They’re given
next to no formal preparatory training and are expected to either sink or
swim,” the authors write. “ Further, they’re expected to approach the end of
their term with no precise parachute or exit agreement in place when they decide
to step down or retire.”
Not surprisingly, the survey
found that a majority of today’s law firm leaders — no matter the firm size —
see the challenges they are facing as far more complex than even just a few
years ago, and a percentage of them reported feeling “almost overwhelming at
You can download a free copy of the
“State of Law Firm Leadership 2018” white paper here.
Post #794 – August 22, 2018
Practice Management 2.0 Conference
Join me October 4th at the
University of Chicago, Gleacher Center. We will begin by exploring how one
might organize new ‘tech-driven hybrid’ groups like Blockchain or Synthetic
Biology; hear directly from panels of highly-experienced Practice Group Leaders
and Chief Practice Officers; participate in an interactive exercise with the
LEADING EXPERT in the field of “virtual distance;” hear first-hand, from the
professions’ leading client research firm concerning why some practices thrive
and others dwindle; and conclude our day by venturing outside the comfortable
corridors of our profession to hear from one of the most distinguished leaders
in the accounting world.
793 – Friday, June 29, 2018
Get Your Free E-Book: Leadership Lessons From The Trenches
pleased to announce that my good friends at Legal
Business World, Joek Peters and Allard Winterink, have published a
collection of my leadership articles and are making them available as an e-book
at no cost for you to download or read on line.
book is a compilation of some 34 concise, leadership tips containing pithy,
pragmatic and sometimes, provocative advice on everything from how the best
leaders get exactly what they expect to being a good coach to your colleagues
(contained in Part One: In The Trenches With Colleagues) – and – from how to
signal what you value as a leader to why those supposed ‘best practices’ are
not always best (in Part Two: In The Trenches With Your Team).
meanderings were inspired by those I’ve had the honor of working with, were fun
to write and so I hope equally rewarding to read; but more importantly provide
some guidance on how you can make your leadership journey more meaningful for
those you serve and more personally gratifying for yourself.
For your PDF
Download copy – go to:
good friends at Legal Business World (https://twitter.com/LegalBizWorld), Joek
Peters and Allard Winterink, advised that my collection of leadership
articles made available as an e-book, at no cost for you to download or read online, has been warmly received - OVER 9600 copies downloaded thus far!
792 – Friday, May 25, 2018
The Spring-Summer 2018 Issue of My International
Review Magazine is Now Available
REVIEW is my 24-page glossy, printed magazine distributed to over 1600 law firm
chairs and managing partners throughout North America.
We start with the outcome of my
collaboration with a group of colleagues that I greatly admire and the result
of an inaugural meeting of our international Legal Think-Tank in New
York. I invite you to read “Legal Trends and Predictions For
“How Conventional Strategizing Can Be A Waste of Time” is intended to
give you a guided tour through the typical strategic planning process with an
emphsis on what NOT to do, which is then folowed by “Leadership Transition Misfires” which
essentially does the same thing with respect to idenifying the dysfunctional
behavior that some firms experience with their leadership succession efforts.
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. “Should Your Leadership Build A
Brand” is the 4th
in a series of surveys that David and I have conducted over the past two
My final selection, “The
Evolution of Blockchain and Its Impact on Your Clients” is a short piece meant to be
demonstrative of the tech-driven hybrid, micro-niches that law firms must now
contend with figuring out how to best serve.
your complimentary PDF of the magazine here -
Post # 791 – Sunday, April
Blockchain and its Impact on Your Clients
thought it might be interesting to highlight a few of your existing clients
(industries) out there that are likely to be impacted, or even disrupted by
this technology while concurrently identifying a few of the blockchain
“industry” players involved in creating this disruption.
Post #790 – Thursday,
March 8, 2018
Tackling Partner Underperformance
I’m delighted to
have been asked and subsequently contributed a Chapter to the second revised
edition of Tackling Partner Performance,
a new book by an old friend, Nick Jarrett-Kerr.
As Nick’s publisher,
the Ark Group, points out, “The issue of underperformance at partner level
remains incredibly agonizing and sensitive in law firms.” Nick’s excellent book addresses contributing
factors to and potential remedies for this difficult situation in chapters
that range across topics such as “Clarifying and Managing Expectations of
Partnership,” “Supporting and Rehabilitating Underperforming Partners,” “When
Lateral Hires Fail,” “Communication and Conflict Resolution,” and many other
pertinent topics. (See the
book’s Executive Summary and Table of Contents for more detail.)
Nick is one of the leading UK and international specialist
advisors to law firms and professional services companies worldwide on issues
of strategy, governance and leadership development. Prior to becoming a consultant, he was the
chief executive partner of Bevan Ashford, an esteemed law firm in Great
Britain, and he is currently a visiting professor at Nottingham Trent
University, where he leads the strategy modules for the Nottingham Law School
Post #789 – Thursday,
February 22, 2018
Sound Advice For New Firm Leaders
Over the years,
I’ve had the privilege of conducting research and one-on-one interviews with at
least 50 law firm leaders who provided their real-world perspectives and
experience on all aspects of becoming a firm leader — from the agony of
deciding to take on the job, to making the difficult transition from just
practicing law, to also leading an entire firm. All of my work unhesitatingly confirms for me
that there are some critical actions that new leaders will need to take to
ensure a successful tenure at the top. These
include the following:
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