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Post #763 – Thursday, August 25, 2016
Design For Your Law Office
Visiting one of my clients in Washington DC recently, I was
struck by a number of the innovative features that were contained within their
Reception area, which was a sharp contrast to some of the more sterile
environments that many firms seem to create.
In a similar manner I came across and was thoroughly impressed by the
work on Nick Kazakoff, co-founder of OneTwoSix Design and recently profiled by
Western Living Magazine (August issue) as one of a handful of rising design
stars – “Industrial Designers To Watch.”
One standout piece is their Loop phone booth (shown here)—a
modern glass-and-maple soundproof phone booth that provides privacy for
confidential phone calls or for working on your laptop, in open-concept offices. “It’s so creative and so practical,” says Judge
And, given the increasing costs of downtown commercial real estate and the decreasing sizes of both partners and associate's offices these days, this innovation may just work as an office for some of your professionals.
For more information, have a look at
Nick’s website - http://onetwosix.design
Post #762 – Friday, August
Skills Women Need To Be Successful Leaders
session recently organized by Cadwalader explored the skills that women
need to be successful leaders:
Cultivate your own leadership style and find your own voice,
deriving confidence through competence. It's also important to avoid
being too self-critical.
Welcome not only positive feedback, but honest and constructive
appraisals. Entrepreneurialism is also important - for example, looking for
opportunities and making the most of them.
In general, women are good team managers, adept at conflict
resolution and juggling various personalities and logistical demands. Women's
capacity to encourage and motivate the marginalized allows them to bridge gaps
more naturally and find common ground.
When negotiating salary offers, let your negotiating counterpart
know that you understand their position and that your own position is
legitimate and justifiable. Showing effective negotiation skills enhances
women's role in a firm.
Firms need to show greater commitment to supporting their female
talent through key career crossroads, and by encouraging men to take paternity
The global competitive environment places a premium on leaders who
can encourage and guide their teams, and the growth of strong women's networks
and sponsorship programs provide the support and opportunities crucial to
should feel empowered and ask for what they believe they deserve.
Confidence backed by a logical argument is a winning combination.
panel discussion was moderated by Claire Cockerton, Chairwoman, Entiq,
and Co-Founder of Innovate Finance, and included Eileen Herlihy,
Executive Director and EMEA Head of Clearing Sales, J.P.Morgan; Cathryn
Lyall, Chief Operating Officer, CurveGlobal, London Stock Exchange Group; Joanna
Nader, Chief Investment Officer, JRJ Group; Meryam Omi, Head of
Sustainability, Legal & General Investment Management; and Louisa Watt,
Partner and Head of Cadwalader's Debt and Claims Trading Practice.
Post #761 – Monday, August
Solving The ‘Commitment Drift’ Frustration
If there is one single frustration that I hear from firm and
practice leaders on a continual basis it is trying to determine how to deal
with the “commitment drift” of those partners who make promises but don’t
always follow through. In other words, how do you ensure task completion on important
projects when your partners agree to do something at the implementation stage,
and you’re uncertain that you will see the necessary committed follow-through?
Whether it is in a practice group setting, around the table with
the members of your Strategic Planning Committee, or wherever colleagues are
meeting, this seems to be one of the most common challenges. That said, there
are seven important steps you can take to ensure results (in most cases):
Read the remainder of my latest
column on Legal Executive Institute
Post #759 – Monday, July 25,
The Underproductive Lawyer:
Addressing Performance Issues
One of the more difficult decisions
that any firm leader or practice group leader will be faced with, is having to
confront (and possibly remove) someone on your team who is no longer “pulling
their weight.” When faced with this challenge (and you definitely will be
at some point in your leadership tenure) one must understand that the
consequences of taking decisive action are rarely as dire as they may seem at first
glance. Nevertheless, there are numerous reasons why intelligent and
capable leaders will go to great lengths to avoid taking any action. In
reality, not taking action is the same as announcing that you will continue
accepting unacceptable performance.
There are various ineffective ways in which law firms try to
signal underperformance - from pointing out the individual’s shortcomings in
vague comments that we hope the person understands, to changing the manner in
which they are compensated. Given that de-equitizing underperforming partners
can be a blow to the ego of the affected attorney, and also erode the morale of
others, how should this situation be approached?
This one-hour webinar will address some of the structural issues
that firms need to improve upon or develop in order best to deal with
performance issues going forward (i.e. setting expectations, defining roles,
developing a performance management framework, and methods of assessment, etc).
Join leaders of Arent Fox;
Fried Frank; DLA Piper; Freshfields; McGuire Woods; Weil Gotshal; and others at
my Wednesday Webinar on Lawyer Underperformance
Post #758 – Monday, July 11, 2016
MBA Workshop Series
I’m honored to be included on the Faculty of Leaders
Excellence in the conduct of their new MBA Workshop Series.
You can participate in this online executive
development program - highly interactive
sessions with MBA topics at MBA level by MBA faculty and guest star leadership
experts. These online workshops are
designed for those seeking cross-functional management and leadership
development. The online program covers the latest thoughts on leadership and
management along with the classical ideals that form the foundations of current
Each workshop consists of 1 hour of effective
online lecturing and is presented LIVE in our online study rooms in order to
provide you with inspirational ideas, penetrating insights, and practical
advice from MBA faculty and leadership experts.
If requested by the professor, each workshop can be prolonged up to 30
You will be exposed to key management and
leadership topics that drive organizational growth. Our faculty will offer
key concepts and tools in HR management, business communication, effective
leadership, differentiation-driven decision making, competitive strategy,
negotiation techniques and strategies, executive compensation, intercultural
communication, corporate governance, and more.
More information can be obtained from - Leaders Excellence of Harvard Square
Post #757 – Monday, July 11, 2016
Involving Law Firm Leaders In
Selecting Their Successors
I had a partner, on the
executive committee of an AmLaw 200 law firm, pose the following question to
“Our managing partner has
confirmed that he will be stepping down at the conclusion of his current term.
He is now recommending to us on the executive committee that it would be
expedient for him to select his successor. He informs us that that is a common
and expected practice within the business community (e.g. Jack Welch at GE) and
there are a number of large AmLaw firms (Jones Day,
for example) where this is the accepted leadership succession practice. From
your work with managing partners, what is your experience?”
My response? Read this article
Post #756 – Monday, July 11,
Developing and Retaining
I am delighted to be a
contributing author to a new Book entitled: Recruiting and Retaining Lawyers : Innovative
Strategies to Attract, Develop and Retain Legal Talent published by Global
Law and Business.
competition for talent that leading experts started to describe in the 1990s
has now become a reality in the legal profession. Like most industries across
the globe, the legal industry is facing a shortage of exceptional people.
Although in some jurisdictions there are more lawyers than the market can
absorb, the reality is that the number of lawyers with the right skills is
limited and that organizations are fighting to attract and retain the best
professionals in a legal market that has become globalized and where mobility
is now the norm.
practical handbook, coordinated by Rebecca Normand-Hochman on behalf of the International Bar Association (IBA),
explores the opportunities and challenges for adopting effective recruitment,
development and retention strategies. Featuring chapters by leading experts in
the field, I am honored to have contributed a chapter on the subject of “When Leaders Need To Confront
may expect this text to be released in September.
For more information - http://www.globelawandbusiness.com/RRL
You may also participate in a Webinar
on Addressing Performance Issues in Law Firms scheduled for Wednesday, July
For more information – Click here
Post #755 - Tuesday, June 7,
Is The Slump In Legal Demand
Here To Stay?
Last month in a survey of US
law firms, the majority of partners reported that there were now too many
lawyers, too little work, and that the slump is here to stay.
As if to endorse that view, the newest list of Fortune 500
companies was published this week (http://fortune.com/fortune500/?xid=nl_powersheet). America’s 500 largest companies by revenue,
took in about a half-trillion dollars LESS revenue in 2015 than they did in
2014. Profits were LESS by about $100
billion, even though the U.S. and global economies were bigger. The Fortune 500’s profit margin has averaged
5.7% over the past 20 years, and many see no reason to expect higher margins –
and if anything, maintaining margins may grow even more challenging.
Ironically, even though the 2016 Fortune 500 are smaller and
less profitable, they are employing about a million more people. A welcome sign of job growth? It is a question not easily answered, as it is
not known where those people are.
Companies report employment worldwide, so the net additions could be
anywhere. Meanwhile, the Fortune 500’s
revenue per employee was $430,000, the lowest since 2011.
A useful reminder of how company fortunes wax and wane energy
companies were the No. 1 contributor to the Fortune 500’s profits just four
years ago, but now they’re in last place, after reporting combined losses of
$44 billion. By contrast, financial
companies were near the bottom in 2009, but this year they are No. 1, and three
of the four most profitable companies in the 500 are financial firms – J.P.
Morgan Chase, Berkshire Hathaway, and Wells Fargo. But even the demand for many of their
services are under extreme threat – from the growth of FinTech to the shrinking
Statistics seem to indicate that we can add publicly traded
companies to the endangered species list.
The number of publicly traded companies is shrinking down to about 5300
at present, from about 8800 in the late 1990s.
This drop isn’t a blip explained by a recent economic downturn. It is an entrenched, structural trend that
has seen the number of listed companies shrink at a fairly steady rate of about
1.6% per year. A reason frequently
mentioned for the decline in public companies is the rise in litigation risks
and the cost and hassle of regulatory compliance.
This incredibly shrinking equity market has massive implications
for entrepreneurs, as well as for investment bankers, accountants, and . . .
Rant #754 – Wednesday, May 3,
The 2016 Spring-Summer Issue of
International Review Is Now Available
REVIEW is my 24-page glossy, printed magazine distributed to over 1600 law firm
chairs and managing partners throughout North America.
trust that this latest issue of my International Review magazine
will contribute to your personal productivity and leadership efforts.
We start with seven
prescriptive ingredients for Bringing
Your Strategy Process Back To Life given
the challenges of a flat or declining demand for legal services.
I was delighted to have
joined David Morley,
Senior Partner, Allen & Overy LLP; David J. Parnell, ABA Author, Speaker, and
Forbes and American Lawyer Media Columnist; and Maurice A. Watson, Chairman, Husch Blackwell
LLP in conducting a Webinar a few months ago.
Strategies For Overcoming
Obstacles To Change is a transcript of some of my comments in response to
the questions posed.
Disruption In Transitioning A New Law Firm Leader is intended
to provide some guidance toward understanding how your firm can be disrupted
during the transition from an outgoing leader to a new one; while Analyzing
A Leadership Candidate’s Strengths is an excerpt from my latest work:
The Changing Of The Guard: Selecting Your Next Firm Leader, and suggests how
the selection of any leader can benefit from utilizing psychometric testing.
final selection, The Distorted View That Some May Offer, is a rather unusual
article in that it was penned by a managing partner who took issue with how
some consultants can be less than truthful in their representations to
potential clients . . . firms like yours.
Knowing the author I thought the article worthy of reprinting.
As always, I sincerely hope
that you find some practical ideas, tips and techniques here that you can put
to use immediately. Please send me your
observations, critiques, comments and suggestions with respect to any of these
Click HERE to download your complimentary PDF copy of the magazine.
Post #753 – Sunday, May 1, 2016
Don’t Forget Your
There is an interesting phenomenon that I’ve noticed about where leaders
tend to direct their one-on-one coaching efforts.
Leaders often spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on the bottom
20% of their professionals, those I have crassly come to label your ‘energy
vampires.’ These are the members of your
team who seem to exhibit a consistent propensity to demand continual attention. These are also the colleagues who may never
prove to be able or willing to meet firm standards or ever accomplish what you
know they are capable of producing.
How do you detect an energy vampire? Posing that question to a group of leaders we
developed the following list. An energy
vampire is some professional who . . .
- blames others or uncontrollable circumstances for their
unacceptable performance or behavior;
- rarely executes on those promises made to the group;
- is usually defensive and never accepts personal
- is constantly disruptive, uncommunicative or disrespectful of
- is combative and creates conflict and tension within the team;
- may ask for yours and others’ opinions but regularly rejects
those views when given; and
- acts as though he or she were a victim.
Meanwhile, these same leaders will devote minimal coaching time or attention
to their best performers – that 20% at the top end who are contributing the
most to your group or your firm’s success.
Why does this pattern occur?
Your star performers appear, most often, to be self-sufficient so there
is this sense that you should just leave them well enough alone and let them
get things done. However you are missing
a couple of opportunities to contribute significant added-value to your
One, while you may assume that your stars are self-sufficient, we all
encounter frustrations and hurdles in our day to day work and efforts to
complete important projects. The degree
to which you can inquire, acknowledge and remove some of those frustrations can
make for a huge contribution.
Second, you may be failing to recognize that these diligent colleagues
welcome your deliberate feedback and appreciate being recognized. Time spent staying in contact with your stars
and helping them serve as a role model to others can serve to amplify their
performance and practices throughout your group.
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