Firm Leadership

Rants, Raves, Rebuttals, Reflections, Revelations & Ruminations

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Post #839 – March 26, 2020


New Insights from Managing Partners On a New Kind of Crisis


No one knows what to expect. But the near term is not good – or worse depending on who you talk to.  This week I was pleased to have the opportunity to join Michael Rynowecer, President of BTI Consulting to see what we could learn from leadership partners about what law firms are doing and how they are thinking.  We canvassed about 25 managing partners (or equivalent) at firms with more than 500 attorneys.  

Here are key insights from their thinking, together with a few of our observations:


Post #838 – March 10, 2020

Clients Value You Having a “DEEP” Industry Focus: So Do You?  (Part Two)

While attorneys tout their deep technical or functional expertise, most clients view that as table stakes.  They assume you’re an expert in employment law, international tax or complex litigation.  And as clients face increasingly complex business challenges that go well beyond any one (traditional practice group) area of the law, they wonder if you really understand the key aspects of their industry.  To be fair – they don’t care if you don’t know the intricacies of making their widgets – but they DO want you to know the idiosyncratic aspects of what they are having to deal with.  


What they also want to know is – have you done it in their industry?  Do you understand the nuances of their industry?  Can you hit the ground running or will they have to invest hours to teach you and your team how things are normally done in their world?


In Part Two of our series on the importance of Industry Groups, Michael Rynowecer (BTI Consulting) and I continue to try to help you to assess the strength of your industry practices and to identify those signals where clients know when you are not up to speed on their deeper industry concerns.

Post #837 – March 4, 2020 


How Do You Get Your Practice and Industry Groups Firing on All Cylinders?

If you are like many, for several years now you’ve been attempting to get your practice and industry groups to achieve high performance . . . with limited success!

You appointed professionals to positions as practice group leader whom you thought would do the job (and who promised you that they would try); you provided them with some basic training; and you endeavored to periodically meet with them all as a group to provide a bit of a pep talk. Despite all your efforts, only a FEW of your groups are functioning as you had hoped. So what to do? 

Well, if you are like some firm leaders I’ve spoken with, you might have now decided to embark upon what one termed: “Practice Group 2.0” and start fresh . . . largely by changing most of your leaders and hoping that some new recruits might do a better job. But if I’ve learned anything over the years, it is that your challenge is not so much a people issue, as it is a structural issue.

Download your PDF copy of the new Legal Business World magazine article

Post #836 – March 1, 2020


Thought Leader and Influencer Interview


Thinkers360 interviews profile prominent members of the Thinkers360 community who embody the power of ideas in their work. In this edition, we speak with Patrick McKenna, Principal, McKenna Associates Inc. An internationally recognized author, lecturer, strategist and seasoned advisor to the leaders of premier professional firms, Patrick has had the honor of working with at least one of the largest firms in over a dozen different countries.  He was recently featured in the Thinkers360 Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Innovation.


Post #835 – February 19, 2020

Does Your Firm Have A REAL Industry Focus?

Understanding Your Client’s Industry is the single biggest differentiator among law firms. Unfortunately, for too many firms, any pretense of having a real industry focus is simply a list of industries displayed on their website – without any recognition that perhaps clients can discern the difference. Bad News Flash: you are not fooling anyone!  

Meanwhile, Michael Rynowecer (BTI Consulting) and I continue to hear how industry group leaders are completely frustrated . . . by their lack of any clear mandate, authority, and visible support from firm leadership. Few get any meaningful leadership training; a separate budget or a dedicated marketing support professional attached to the group. Few meet on a monthly basis or collaborate across offices; nor have they developed a ‘real’ formal strategic plan. Worse yet, few get support from partners or firm management, which could, for example, make a firm require that partners work only in one core industry.

Here are a dozen diagnostic questions (not intended to be comprehensive) that you might internally review and discuss, to evaluate where you stand with respect to having a genuine industry focus.

Post #834 – January 20, 2020


Don’t Miss Out on Reading One of My Latest eBooks


At different times during this past year, I released three new eBooks through the kind folks at Legal Business World – all of which remain available free for you to download.


This morning I received some Net Reader Metrics – the online reader counts together with stats from each visiting country.  A HUGE thank you to all of those who participated in reading and downloading copies of my work.



When It Comes Time To Instigate Change  (54 Pages)

18,446 Total Readers

Top countries: US, India, Turkey, United Kingdom, Germany




The Art of Leadership Succession: How To Select Your Next Firm Leader  (264 Pages)

48,596 Total Readers

Top Countries: US, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Canada, India




Strategy Innovation: Getting to The Future First  (242 Pages)

43,079 Total Readers

Top Countries: US, United Kingdom, Australia, India, Netherlands

Post # 833 – January 17, 2020


Make Your 2020 Vision 20/20

According to new survey research released this week, the number one reason why partners leave their firms is not dissatisfaction with compensation, but rather a lack of confidence in firm management and strategy.

For anyone in a leadership position and starting a new decade with today’s pace of change, this research should suggest how important it is to ensure that your 2020 vision is crystal clear.  Therefore, you need to know exactly what you want to accomplish over the next twelve months; you need to communicate your goals to your colleagues; and you need to set out for everyone what it will look like when it is achieved.  

What follows are some possible areas for setting some 2020 Goals.  Why not start by assessing how well you are currently performing with each, by using the following self-assessed grading:

A = We are a dominant performer in this area
B = We are certainly ahead of most competitive firms at this
C = We are probably ‘average’ when compared with our competitors
D = This is an area that needs remedial attention
F = If we were honest, this is near crisis for us

1.         Creating innovative solutions to address client problems
2.         Finding new, efficient ways to lower costs in performing our professional tasks
3.         Staffing projects in ways that render extra value and enhanced benefit
4.         Securing more challenging and complex work from our existing clients
5.         Transforming individual client assignments into long-term relationships
6.         Being better at systematic listening and getting closer to our clients
7.         Monitoring market trends to track emerging client needs
8.         Generating increased awareness of our capabilities across our market footprint
9.         Launching entirely new legal service offerings
10.       Developing a recognized presence in serving new industry niches
11.       Attracting high-quality lateral talent
12.       Growing new partners from junior ranks
13.       Collaborating and sharing knowledge among partners
14.       Helping partners to grow and develop marketable new skills and capabilities
15.       Developing future leaders for our practices

Start with identify only three (3) areas in which you want to formulate a specific action plan and diligently focus your efforts.  In this year of 2020, let’s start the decade with a clear 20/20 vision and focus on achieving some tangible results.

Need help with seeing 20/20?  Let’s talk.  Shoot me an email, and I’ll be in touch.

Post #832 – December 27, 2019

2019 Year End Review

I’m 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 2019 looked like:


• Geographic Locations:
78% U.S. Based
22% International (Europe)

• Nature of Assignments:
32% developing / implementing strategic plans
57% governance and leadership counsel
11% client relations and marketing advice

• Firm Size Range:
33% firms of over 500 attorneys
22% firms of 301 to 500 attorneys
34% firms of 100 to 300 attorneys
11% non-legal firms

• Special Advisor To The Board of Directors (2015-2019)
Attended and participated in monthly board meetings serving Jackson Lewis P.C. – with over 900 attorneys in 60 locations nationwide serving clients across a wide range of industries and recognized as both an AmLaw and Global 100 law firm.


• Participation in Conference and Workshops
- Co-Chairman – Second Annual Law Firm Innovation Summit   (Boston in November)
- Facilitator – Practice Group Leaders Workshop    (Chicago in August)


• Advisory Board Member – Legal Business World Broadcasting
Legal Business World is an international company operating a global platform that produces and shares publications (articles, eMagazines and eBooks) read in over 32 countries; TV and Radio covering the business of law and development of the legal profession. Their Legal Knowledge Portal offers over 900 articles, contributed by over 400 authors, categorized under 40 topics, and appealing to 190K readers a month. Every year LBW chooses Thought Leaders – professionals who distinguish themselves through: opinionated publications, being recognized as an authority in a specialized field and/or whose expertise is sought after and often rewarded.

• Advisory Board Member – Intraspexion Inc.
Intraspexion is the world’s first “Deep Learning” service able to provide clients with an early warning of potential litigation disasters. The holder of 8 Deep Learning patents, the National Law Journal named Intraspexion® in the inaugural list of Legal AI Leaders (February 2018). The Artificial Lawyer listed Intraspexion in the inaugural edition of the AL 100 Legal Tech Directory (August 2018). And Microsoft accepted Intraspexion into Microsoft for Startups (September 2018)

• BrainTrust Network Member – Quantumrun Forecasting
Quantumrun Forecasting is a research and consulting agency using long-range foresight to help organizations thrive from future trends and stay ahead of disruptive market shifts.  The Forecaster BrainTrust is comprised of subject matter experts from a range of disciplines and industries worldwide. These experts have been individually invited to collaborate on projects to provide multidisciplinary insights and clients use our services like an outsourced research, strategy and content partner to provide them with new ideas and industry intelligence


In 1675, Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”  Every author stands on the shoulders of giants and I thank all of the giants who boosted my vision.

• Authored Three (3) New Books:
- Strategy Innovation: Getting To The Future FIRST (240-page eBook – Legal Business World Publishing
- The Art of Leadership Succession  (260-page eBook) – Legal Business World Publishing
- When It Comes Time To Instigate Change  (50-page eBook) – Legal Business World Publishing

• Contributed Chapters to Two (2) New Books from international publishing houses:
- The Lawyer's Guide to the Future of Practice Management  (Ark Publishing, 2019)
- Dispute Resolution and Lawyers, A Contemporary Approach (Interactive CaseBook Series) 6th Edition  (West Academic Publishing, 2019)

• Authored or Contributed to 32 Articles in 9 different international Publications including:
- CBA PracticeLink for Law Firm Leaders
- JD Supra
- Blog Post
- fivehundred / Legal 500 Magazine
- Legal Business World Magazine
- Legal Executive Institute
- National Magazine (CBA)
- Of Counsel – Legal Practice and Management Report
- The Legal Intelligencer

• Two new issues (Spring & Fall) of my INTERNATIONAL REVIEW 24-page glossy magazine were produced and mailed to 1600 firm leaders.


Acknowledged: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Innovation – Thinkers360

“Our listing includes authors, influencers and speakers who have curated and shared their thought leadership content – including articles, blogs, books, keynotes, media interviews, panels, podcasts, social media, speaking events, videos, webinars and whitepapers.”

Nominee: 2019 Canadian CEO Trusted Advisor Award

I have been nominated for national recognition for my work – the Canadian CEO Trusted Advisor Award.  It was very unexpected and I am grateful to those clients who made it possible.  I am always telling professionals and firms to celebrate their milestones, so this is me, practicing what I preach.  Whether I do or don’t win is unimportant.  What I do find immensely gratifying is having clients say that what I’ve been doing over the years, has been so valuable to them.  A most sincere Thank You for your most gracious vote of confidence.

• Qualified:  CEO Trusted Adviser – Chief Executive Group (U.S.)

Chief Executive Group now helps CEOs find the right expert adviser.  The right outside adviser can help you improve processes, develop new products or provide access to new markets.  Unfortunately, the mid-market has been dramatically underserved by the advisory community.  Until now.  CEO Trusted Advisers, newly launched by Chief Executive Group, gives you speedy access to peer-recommended experts in executive coaching, succession planning, strategy, talent, operations, technology, finance and M&A and more.


To 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 your fellowship.  I wish you and your families the very best in 2020 and the coming decade.

Post # 831 – November 29, 2019

Acknowledged Amongst Top 50 Global Thought Leaders

I’m honored to be included amongst the Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Innovation.

According to Thinkers360 who compiled the listing:

“Our listing includes authors, influencers and speakers who are members of Thinkers360 and who have curated and shared their thought leadership content – including articles, blogs, books, keynotes, media interviews, panels, podcasts, social media, speaking events, videos, webinars and whitepapers – via our platform.

Our differentiation from the various influencer leaderboards on social media, is that we take a holistic view of thought leaders and experts, beyond their social media activity, and look across all the hats they may wear – such as academic, author, consultant, entrepreneur, influencer and speaker – and all the types of thought leadership content they produce.”

Post # 830 – November 27, 2019

Want The Inside Track on What Makes the World’s Elite Law Firms Successful?

fivehundred, the new magazine from The Legal 500, combines the knowledge of experienced editors and researchers with expert contributors to give you an insight into the global themes affecting the legal profession.  

I am pleased to have the authored the cover article, "The Art of Leadership" for this issue.

You can download your copy of the entire 56-page issue here:    

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