Firm Leadership

Rants, Raves, Rebuttals, Reflections, Revelations & Ruminations

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Post #812 – March 1, 2019

Lucrative Micro-Niche Practice: Digital Transformation (Part 2)

According to research from Workfront, $1 trillion was the amount companies spent on digital transformation in 2018 and 70% of transformation projects won’t achieve their intended results.

There are usually four approaches that companies take with their digital transformation efforts, each of which could benefit from expert legal counsel – top-down committed direction; establishing dedicated change teams; with an innovation lab; and through launching strategic partnerships.

Post # 811 – February 20, 2019

Lucrative Micro-Niche Practice: Digital Transformation (Part 1)

This is the first in a series of short articles that I am doing on what I call micro-niches - slivers of potentially lucrative opportunity for those attorneys and practice groups that care to invest the non-billable time in building the necessary skills to develop themselves as the "go-to" experts.

Welcome to Digital Transformation, a practice in which Deloitte already has dozens of lawyers serving global corporations, and where I can only find one US firm with their toes in the water.

Post #810 – February 11, 2019

When Your Strategic Plan Needs To Get Implemented

Planning is not doing. Unfortunately, some partners believe that implementing the strategy and “getting their hands dirty” is beneath them. They act as if implementation is something best left to the non-legal professionals in the firm. This view holds that one group does the innovative strategizing work (“the thinkers”), and then hands the ball off to lower levels. If things go awry, the problem is placed squarely at the feet of the “doers,” who somehow couldn’t implement a “perfectly sound” plan.

Whenever I think about the effort that is required to go into implementing your firm’s strategic plan, I’m reminded of a particular business book title that grabbed my attention when I first saw it . . . Hope Is Not A Strategy!

To effectively transform your best intentions into tangible action, there are EIGHT common hurdles that you may need to overcome. Thinking through the following will help you make the leap . . . 

Included in the newest edition of Legal Business World:

Post #809 – February 1, 2019

Annoying Phrases in Emails

A poll by Adobe has uncovered the most annoying phrases to receive in a work email.  It is a poll rammed with all manner of passive-aggressive neediness and belligerence, but what do the phrases really mean?  Here are some of the most annoying, decoded.

• ‘Not sure if you saw my last email’
Perhaps you were busy at lunch, or having a nice time with your children or visiting your sick mother.  Whatever it was, I am more important.  Please work until you are dead.

• ‘Per my last email’
I use the word “per” now, because I want my vaguely legal-sounding vocabulary to create fear deep in your stupid bovine heart.

• ‘Per our conversation’
I am creating a paper trail, because this entire project is about to go belly up and I definitely want everyone to know that this whole mess is exclusively your fault, even though it is probably mine.

• ‘Any updates on this?’
I am phrasing this as a question because screaming “I DEMAND IMMEDIATE UPDATES!” makes me look deranged.

• ‘Sorry for the double email’
I am not sorry. I like sending double emails. They make me feel powerful. Tomorrow I am going to send you a triple email, and I won’t be sorry about that, either. 

• ‘Please advise’
I am washing my hands of this whole tawdry cock-up and dumping all responsibility on to you. 

• ‘As previously stated’
I cannot believe you ignored one of my statements. Can you imagine if Noah had ignored God’s statement about the flood? I want you to place similar importance on a spreadsheet about office fittings that I will never even look at.

• ‘As discussed’
“Discussed” obviously means “demanded.”  Fear me.

• ‘Re-attaching for convenience’
I do not just want to clog up your inbox with unnecessary reminders; I also want to clog up your inbox with documents you already own.  Feel free to cry at your desk at the earliest convenience. 

Courtesy of The Irish Times

Post #808 – January 15, 2019


Strategic Challenges That New Firm Leaders Face

The recent announcement from Baker McKenzie that their global chairman would be taking a medical leave due to severe exhaustion took many by surprise.  But Paul Rawlinson is far from alone, among firm leaders that I have worked with over the years, in having to contend with a position that has grown ever more demanding with challenges that are usually not fully recognized when first taking on the role.  Most lawyers have NO idea what the huge scope of this job entails (ever seen a job description?), how much exhausting travel can be involved, how much time it really requires, how lonely it can be at the top, and how ill prepared many new firm leaders are when they assume office!

Post #807 – January 2, 2019


Conducting A Strategic Review Versus A Strategic Plan

I believe that instigating a strategic review is very different from initiating a strategic plan, but the two often get confused.  I see too many firms thinking that they are developing a strategic plan when they are really investing their time in conducting a strategic review.

How is a strategic plan different?

Post #806 – December 30, 2018

Happy New Year

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 2019.

Post #805 – December 10, 2018

Life As A Firm Leader

Here are some interesting stats obtained from my working with and researching the activities and feelings of firm leaders:

• During the average day,
53% - of time is spent in meetings, usually lasting from 1 to 2 hours
33% - of time is spent with direct reports
61% - of this is all in face-to-face communications
23% - engaging with my internal colleagues
20% - managing my stress levels

• 41% of Firm Leaders would admit to feeling some stress every day, with another 33% feeling stress a couple of times a week.

• The key areas where Firm Leaders believe their role is more difficult that they might have expected include:
50% - driving change
48% - developing my senior team
40% - balancing long and short-term priorities 

How does this fit with your experience?

Post #804 – November 20, 2018

Another Great Issue of Legal Business World Magazine

The latest issue include the following articles:

• CodeX and the Future of Legal Tech, Riyanka Roy Choudhury

Strategic Challenges That New Firm Leaders Face, Patrick J. McKenna

• Identity for All | A Crisis in Demand of Input from the Legal Industry, Aileen Schultz

Are law schools adapting to the paradigmatic transformation of the legal professions, and how to measure it? Javier de Cendra

• Growth in the Legal sector, Katie McLean

• The Hummingbird Lawyer. Managing time efficiently can generate an additional hour of availability each day, Richard G. Stock

• The Legal Education Gap, Lucy Endel Bassli

• Legal Tech and Innovation in South Africa, Themba Mahleka

• "A Millennial's Perspective on how law firms can retain Millennials" or talent …? Mary Bonsor

• A ClariLegal interview with Russ Dempsey, Associate General Counsel at AIG, Cash Butler/James Johnson

• Your Personal Legal Brand: Why You Need One and How to Begin Creating, Jaimie B. Field, Esq.

• Taking a leadership role on data security, risk and governance, Shauna Maguire/Siska Lund

Download your PDF copy:

Post #803 – November 10, 2018

International Review Magazine: Fall-Winter 2018

Our Fall-Winter issue begins with Inside the Corridors of Firm Leadership.  This features the results of the fifth in a series of surveys I’ve conducted with my highly respected colleague David Parnell. 

A Lesson From The Accountants is a collaboartion with an old friend, Neil Gower, and addresses how the major accounting firms exercise good governance practices, perhaps worth emulating.

The Rise of the Micro-Niche provides a further look into how the explosion of data today is forcing professionals to be far more specialized if they hope to develop a “go-to” personal brand.

What Firms Need To Do To Prepare For The Future is an excerpt from the mid-year discussions of LIFT, our international think-tank group collaboration.

Finally, When You Need to Replace a Practice Leader offers some straightforward guidance on how to handle the difficult situation when you have to remove a colleague who is just not doing the job.

Visit the following link to download your copy of my Fall-Winter 2018 practice management magazine:

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