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Firm Leadership

Rants, Raves, Rebuttals, Reflections, Revelations & Ruminations


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Post #885 – July 2, 2021


Why Aren’t Law Firms Bringing In Outside Directors?


Half of the Big Four firms in the U.S. have non-executive directors.  There’s growing sentiment that law firms should consider a similar approach. 


There’s no shortage of interest in the legal industry today about what the Big Four are looking to accomplish: particularly, whether they’re going to find a way to snatch substantial work from U.S. law firms–perhaps aided by the regulatory reform process that’s unfolding in a number of states. 


But perhaps that interest should also extend to some of the organizational practices in place at Big Four firms.  I’m going to spotlight one today, based on a recent LinkedIn post from Canadian law firm consultant Patrick McKenna.  That’s bringing in independent directors from outside their organizations to sit on their boards. 


Read This Article by Dan Packel from American Lawyer HERE




Post # 884 – July 2, 2021


The Most Lucrative Growth is Industry Focused

But Only If You Get Granular


I was reading an interesting interview with Sandy Thomas who was just reelected for his third term as Global Managing Partner at Reed Smith.  What struck me was when he was asked about the direction of his firm and his growth priorities, he responded that Reed Smith will concentrate what he calls its “talent, time and treasure” as the firm embarks on a new four-year plan.  The focus will be on developing capabilities in five core industries: financial services; life sciences and health; energy and natural resources; transportation; and entertainment and media.  The interviewer observed, “That’s a wide net -- but compared to some Big Law leaders who seem loathe to imply any scrap of business is less important, it’s practically a laser-like focus.”

We all know intuitively that we need to have our firm grow but the subject of growth can be a tricky topic such that it becomes important to have an informed perspective on how to think about it.  Growth creates healthy practices, strong firms, opens up opportunities, excites and attracts good lateral talent, and rewards partners.  But do we really know how to achieve it?  And I am not going to blow smoke at you here – law firms and lawyers do NOT understand the intricacies of Industries.

 

Read This Article – HERE 

 



Post # 883 – June 25, 2021


9 Reasons Why Law Firm Strategic Plans Are So Pathetic




If you have any interest in “real" strategic planning, I tell leaders that there are a number of fatal traps you need to ensure you don’t fall victim to – like strategic planning that . . .
- is too focused on fixing internal problems;

has a few wise elders going up the mountain to receive the word . . . and then having them

invest enormous time trying to sell it to their fellow partners;

does not involve analyzing any new trends;

- is obsessed with cost-efficiency;

treats the firm as one homogeneous entity;

does not include the voice of the client;

falls short of truly differentiating yourself;

does not address how the firm is actually going to improve profitability; and

- ignores who specifically is responsible to do certain of the implementation tasks.


#lawfirmleadership  #lawfirmmanagement  #lawfirmstrategy

Read the article - HERE




Post # 882 – June 18, 2021


What High Performing Groups Do

Hint: They Take Action!  (Part 2)

 

I have had the privilege of conducting well over a dozen virtual training workshops over the past year with the leaders of both practice and with industry groups.  At each of those workshops I asked of the group leaders in attendance, “Given that it is so much easier now with Zoom and video-technology, how many of you have invited one of your group’s clients to attend your group meeting – during the past six months?”  It is no exaggeration but only with sad bewilderment that I report, I have yet to elicit a single positive response!

 

The final part of this article addresses the remaining two meetings, the first dealing with Bringing Outside Voices In and the second called an Action Planning Meeting, and the one I firmly believe to be the most important of the four because it deals with actually doing something and having your group take action.

 

Since publishing Part 1, I have heard from a good number of group leaders about how their high performing groups do meet weekly.  Once again, I dare any group leader to tell me that their team members would not embrace and benefit from any of these four meetings.

 

Read The Article: HERE

 



Post #881 – June 12, 2021


What High Performing Groups Do

Hint: They Meet Weekly!  (Part 1)

 

Like it or not, meetings are a large part of what you do as an effective team leader.  In the research and preparation of First Among Equals and for some time after its publication, I had the opportunity to interview leaders from dozens of large firms comprising law, accounting, consulting and other professions.  My mission was to identify what the highest performing (practice or industry) group leaders were actually doing to inspire winning performance within their teams. 

 

I would approach a firm leader and ask whether there might be one specific group leader within the firm that “stood head-and-shoulders above the others.”  Invariably I would hear, that would be our George or Jennifer.  I would then go and interview the particular individual who was identified.  Now while this was only touched upon in our book, one of the findings that my research revealed was that in most cases these individuals did not meet with the members of their groups once per month (for an hour) – but they met ONCE PER WEEK!  And these group leaders engaged their teams in four very different types of meetings, which collectively helped explain their exemplary performance.  

 

Today, I dare group leaders to tell me that their team members would not embrace and benefit from any of these four meetings.

 

Read The Article: HERE




Post #880 – June 1, 2021


Where (Practice/Industry Group) Leadership Training Fails

 

From my observations over the years and from speaking candidly with those professionals within law firms charged with overseeing training and professional development, I hear about how leadership development training, especially for practice and industry group leaders is so vitally important, but how the biggest contributor to wasted training dollars is ineffective methodologies.

 

When my old friend David Maister and I wrote “First Among Equals: How to Manage a Group of Professionals” I checked Amazon, only to discover that there were already over 920,000 books listed under “Leadership” and conclude that all the world needed was one more.  But that said, if we look closely at these various Leadership books, one can quickly discern that most are written from a top-down corporate prospective and don’t often line up with our professional services reality.  So, if we are not providing our people with training that fits with their real-world situations, we are sunk before we begin.

 

And to be very specific, here are five distinct shortcomings I hear about and personally observe where I have to conclude that leadership training is an unfortunate waste of money:

 

Read the article - HERE




Post #879 – May 24, 2021


Why Law Firms Need Non-Executive Directors

 

I posted this note to my LinkedIn page about a week back and to date this posting has generated over 2800 Views!!!  

 


“Why Law Firms Need Non-Executive Directors”  
Earlier this week, the Leader of a firm with offices in New York and Hong Kong commented:
“Why is it uncommon for law firms to have a board comprised of external professionals to advise them?  At the very least, it seems like good governance.   I have started the process of putting together a board for my firm.”  He graciously referenced as his stimulant, an article that I had authored some six years ago entitled: “Why Law Firms Need Non-Executive Directors”  
https://lnkd.in/gcH2_EH

So, now I’m curious.  I continue to be surprised as this is a common practice amongst many accounting firms and amongst some of those in other non-American jurisdictions.   But is anyone aware of any US law firms who currently have an outside Non-Executive Director serving as an advisor to their firm’s Board or Management Committee?

 

AND, of course, the answer I received from 2600 Views was . . . “NO RESPONSE!

 

Now I’m most interested in professional service firms that bring on NEDs - and most specifically whether there has been any research done, that any of you are aware of, either in the UK or Australia, that quantifies / reaffirms the specific benefits that might accrue to any professional firm that employs NEDs?

 

Anyone?  Please respond by email.

 



Post # 878 – May 4, 2021


Fixing Firm Compensation Models:

To Fuel Value Focused Legal Delivery Systems

This article evolved from the collaborations between a Fortune 500 GC, a Managing Partner, a leading practitioner in alternative fee arrangements and an international law firm management consultant.  It was initially written in 2009 and pretty much forgotten about until now.  

Then a European-based lawyer and author of “Billion Dollar IP Strategy” reached out and graciously commented “I came across this article and it is revolutionary even today.  The fact that this article still looks fresh points to the reality that the profession has hardly changed in the intervening years.” 

 Is that true?   We welcome your observations and comments.

 

In this article, the four of us attempted to explore how a progressive firm might deal with one of the great impediments to adopting any new change – your firm’s compensation system.  And while there is no one standard framework or precedent to follow, each of our four propositions is intended to provoke you to look at this challenge through a slightly different lens.


Read the complete article - HERE




Post #877 – April 29, 2021


Listen to Our Latest Managing Partners Webinar

 

Last week I was pleased to moderate a panel discussion focusing on the subject of Leadership Succession.

 

We discussed how under normal circumstances transitioning a new Firm Leader is challenging, can be disruptive, and how this lingering Covid pandemic may have created even greater challenges.   

 

We polled our audience of over 80 participating Firm Leaders on 6 issues, and discussed amongst our four panelists - adequate preparation time for any new leader to get ready; what specific training was provided; formal efforts to identify traits wanted in leadership candidates; formal succession planning; skills felt important for the next generation of firm leaders; how important diversity and inclusion was in succession; and specific lessons that could be learned from this pandemic.  

 

I’m pleased to advise that the video recoding of this one-hour Webinar is available for you to view at: https://youtu.be/TDSZCs1riNY


A 3 minute taster has also been created at https://youtu.be/FHwvq8UoAuM




Post # 876 – March 23, 2021


Learning Faster Than Your Competition Can Be Your Strategic Advantage

 

Firm and group leaders need to pose a few very serious questions to their colleagues in one-on-one (virtual) coaching discussions:


 

1.     “Do you believe you are adding real value or simply passing along legal information to our clients? In other words, my beloved partner, what is it that you can specifically do for clients today, that you could NOT do for them at this same time last year?” 

 

2.     “What do you need to do, in the time that you have available right now, to build your skills and reinforce your opportunities for when we come out of this pandemic so that you can have an even more successful practice?” 

 

3.     “As you see this pandemic continuing to unfold, are you plugged into what is happening around you and inside your client’s industry, such that you can interpret whatever is transpiring and be the source of proactive counsel – before the client has to ask?” 

 

4.     “Are you trying out any new ideas, new techniques, new technologies and I mean personally trying them, not just reading about them? Or, are you waiting for others to figure out how to innovate and re-engineer your practice – (and re-engineer you . . . right out of that practice)?”


To Access and Read the Article - https://lnkd.in/gzjNVNr

 



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