Firm Leadership

Rants, Raves, Rebuttals, Reflections, Revelations & Ruminations

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Post # 869 – December 1, 2020

Looking Back on 2020: Ten of My Most Popular Insights

It’s been an unprecedented year and I sincerely hope that sharing my articles and insights, here on LinkedIn, have helped to answer some of your leadership and strategic challenges.  Below is a list of some of my most popular articles in case you missed any of them the first time.  Happy reading, stay well and future focused, and please share these with your team & colleagues. 


• Memo to Firm Leader: Are You Getting Minutes from Group Meetings?

Many groups may spend time talking about workloads and about what might be new with a particular client that everybody is familiar with – but few actually engage in collaborating on projects that could advance the group’s ambitions -


• Suffering Obsolescence (Part 2): Are You Fostering a Skill Building Culture?

Since your firm sells professional skill rather than time (hopefully), it makes sense that one should probably think of those skills as valuable assets and have some kind of program to manage and prevent those assets from inevitably becoming obsolete -


• Suffering Human Capital Obsolescence: Partners Doing the Same Old Schtick!

In most firms, my observation is that we seriously over-invest in the efficiency (“let’s provide a discount” or “do more for less”) arena and under-invest in having partners working to build their skills –


• Is Your Industry Group Monitoring Trends?

One activity that I have learned that only high-performance industry groups do, is they engage their members in a monthly meeting specifically to review the trends impacting their clients -


• Embrace Thought Leadership as Your Industry Group’s Strategy for Growth

Here are 12 recommended actions for how you and your group might develop a position of being recognized industry thought leaders -


• Enough with The Visionary Leadership BS

While many books on leadership suggests that a leader needs to have a vision, I think it is all very nice in theory, sounds profoundly intelligent as a concept, but is absolute BS in its application         -


• Big Industry Groups Suck!

Here’s a half-dozen important reasons why big groups suck, why we need to strive for smaller teams, and some prescriptive options for you to consider in making a course correction -


• In Matters of Strategy: Beware of Best Practices

What is it about this term, ‘best practices’ that makes it sound so persuasive, and yet why don’t they always seem to work as well as some might be suggesting?  I would caution that it is nothing more than the myth of a single standard of excellence; the one right way to compete -


• What to Do When Your Chosen Industry Falters

What happens if the industry focus that you happen to have selected, like retail, is now being decimated by the coronavirus pandemic -


• Having Your Groups Firing on All Cylinders

My work with literally hundreds of practice leaders over the past two decades confirms for me that there are at least ten structural impediments, in no particular order of importance, all of which should be addressed if you ever hope to have effective groups -


Post #868 – November 19, 2020

A Sincere Thanksgiving Message Worth Taking to Heart


Next Thursday is U.S. Thanksgiving.  I can just imagine how many lawyers and their firms are getting all prepared and working out how they plan to extend their very best wishes to all of their most valued clients.  


On that note, I was struck by the comments shared earlier this week by Dan Haley who serves as General Counsel at Sprinklr, a provider of enterprise software headquartered in Boston.  He was commenting on a rather perverse behavior that those who work at in-house legal departments witness so many professionals engaging in, at every holiday season.


Dan strongly suggested, that if and when you really care enough . . . to simply click a button that sends the very same digital Thanksgiving greeting to everyone on your list . . . please, please do NOT bother!!!

Post #867 – November 7, 2020

15 Innovation Questions to Ask Yourself


It is my honor to be Chairing, for the third consecutive year, Ark’s Law Firm Innovation Summit, being conducted virtually.  In my opening remarks today, I posed the following provocative questions for the participants to ask themselves:


• Is our firm focused on innovative projects – or on creating an innovative culture?


• Are we paying as much attention to ”cognitive diversity” as we are to diversity of gender, race, culture and ethnicity?


• Does our innovation suffer because firm leadership requires ‘ironclad assurances’ of results?


• If asked, can we name a current management practice that does the most to insert a “NO” into InNOvation?


• How do we identify and neutralize the deadly and often hidden toxins that destroy innovation?


• Is innovation listed as a responsibility within our practice and industry group leader job descriptions?


• What is the tomorrow challenge that our firm needed to start working on . . . yesterday?


• Where might short-term profitability need to be sacrificed in order to achieve long-term market success?


• Is there a procedure and how easy is it for some lawyer to secure “experimental funding” for their idea?


• Does our firm have any organized process by which firm leadership monitors and reports on the trends impacting our firm’s possible future prosperity?


• How does our firm know that it isn’t over-investing in “what is” – at the expense of “what could be”?


• How easy do we make it for our valued clients to contribute their ideas and actually be heard?


• How do we pursue game-changing ideas without taking outsized risks?


• If failure is recognized as a necessary component of innovation, how does our firm deal with failure?


• Does firm leadership hold regular meetings to discuss the firm’s growth and innovation efforts; reflect on new strategic insights and ideas; and track ongoing innovation projects?


I am delighted to be welcoming participants from firms including Barnes and Thornburg; Baker Donelson; Benesch; Blake Cassels; Burns & Levinson; Butler Snow; Cooley; Crowell & Moring; Faegre; Fox Rothschild; Goodwin; Hogan Lovells; Husch Blackwell; Jackson Lewis; Levenfeld Pearlstein; Locke Lord; McAndrews Held; Norton Rose; Osler Hoskins; Paul Hastings; Reed Smith; Shearman & Sterling; Simpson Thacher; Thompson Hine; Vorys Sater; Waller Lansden; and many others


Post # 866 – October 22, 2020

Join me at a Virtual Masterclass for NEW Practice Leaders

You have just been appointed as one of your firm’s newest practice leaders and you now have the care and custody of a group of your peers.  This may be your first experiencing in managing or leading (or whatever you call it) a group.  To be effective you must now forge a team out of a collection of autonomous individuals - most of whom are now working from home.  Only one small problem . . . you were never trained or given any guidance on how to go about organizing and managing a group of your fellow professionals. 


So, now where do you turn?


This intensive, skills-building workshop is an investment in your ability to make a measurable difference to your group’s quality of service, profitability, and professional morale.  Every aspect of this experience is designed to provide hands-on checklists, interpersonal techniques and exercises to make it completely applicable for you to use immediately.

Post #865 – October 8, 2020

Your 6 Step Plan to Get Ahead of the Pandemic

So many events just in the last week remind us this thing isn’t over yet. 


The next normal is here.  And the next next normal will arrive soon enough.  The pandemic can change things in the blink of an eye, and volatility is part of it all.  This begs this question — how do you get ahead of it without taking your eye off the ball? 


Read the complete article - HERE

Post #864 – September 23, 2020

Join Us at the Third Annual Law Firm Innovation Summit

I am honored to be once again Chairing, for the third consecutive year, the Ark Group’s Law Firm Innovation Summit which will embrace the premise that innovation needs to begin with process, and not technology.  

So, join us for two days of leading-edge case studies and interactive discussions that will address:

- Is Innovation just a Fancy Word for Change?

- Innovation and Purpose: A Confluence of People, Cultures and Goals…

- Innovation in Crisis: Executing on what Matters

- Adapt or Fail: Turning Chaos into an Opportunity for Change

- Strategy Innovation: Innovating for Practice Growth

- The Next Frontier: Why Law Firms need to increase the EQ of their KM and Innovation Teams

And much more...

Post #863 – September 2, 2020


25 Quotes to Jump-Start Your Innovative Mindset


Innovation does not require some exotic new technology by rather it requires an innovative culture.  Today, firms need more radical and game-changing inspiration to be able to meet the challenges that we are all facing.  We need new ideas.  We need progress.  We need positive change.  Here is a collection of some of my favorite quotes on innovation to inspire your next move forward.  When I need a dose of inspiration or advice, I often turn to these insightful words of wisdom for an added touch of motivation.


Innovation—any new idea—by definition will not be accepted at first.  It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations, monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by an organization.  This requires courageous patience.  (Warren Bennis)


Read the complete article - HERE

Post #862 – August 26, 2020


Lessons BigLaw Could Learn from BigTech


In today’s knowledge economy ideas matter, but that said, we still seem to spend most of our time on “execution” work.  In other words, we may happen to develop some new service offering (like cybersecurity) and then obsess and spend our time exploiting it, without focusing any meaningful (non-billable) investment time on developing the next new service.  Consequently, too many law firms devote their energies to refinement, not invention. 

Meanwhile, these Tech giants have figured out how to minimize execution work which creates room for new ideas which they then turn into reality.  Their cultures have been purposely designed to support invention.  They remove any internal barriers that would prevent ideas from moving through the organization and bring the best of those ideas to life. 

Here are some examples, perhaps worthy of thinking about and seeking to emulate in your firm

Post #861 – August 19, 2020


Effective Leaders Are Not Necessarily Nice!


Having spent a good number of years studying, working with and coaching new firm leaders, I have concluded that the greatest challenge for any of us in leading others is the way in which we are hard-wired; our natural instincts to preserve our sense of pride and our need to be (and appear to be) “nice.” 

The truth is, most of us would rather have the rock-star surgeon available if we needed a coronary bypass operation, irrespective of the individual’s bedside manner.  Having a great bedside manner . . . would be a definite plus!  BUT, our critical requirement would be to work with a medical technician with the best possible expertise and exemplary track-record for delivering results. 

Read the complete article - HERE

Post #860 – August 14, 2020

Announcing: Managing Partners’ Forum North America

Larry Stroud, the founder of Korverge, and Patrick J. McKenna are collaborating to establish Managing Partners’ Forum North America.  


Larry is a sought-after business development (BD) and management coach for professional services firms, principally accounting and law.  Prior to establishing his advisory firm, Korverge Inc. ( Larry built his experience in several locations around the globe as a CPA, CA (including in the area of forensic investigations and also heading up a national BD and marketing function).  He achieved partner in EY and lastly at Mazars UK. 


Managing Partners’ Forum is a well-established and successful forum and resource in the UK and parts of Europe  The purpose of The Forum is to support the growth, productivity and prosperity of the professional services sector.  The Forum brings together professional firm leaders to share ideas on strategic leadership and management excellence with each other.  To qualify to join The Forum members generally have to be Managing Partners, CEOs, COOs of professional firms.  Unlike other forums or associations, the members are from all disciplines of professional services – e.g. accounting, law, engineering, architectural, property advisors etc.


Stay tuned for further details on programs and activities.

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