Firm Leadership

Rants, Raves, Rebuttals, Reflections, Revelations & Ruminations

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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”

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:

A 3 minute taster has also been created at

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 -


Post# 875 – March 18, 2021

Listen to our Managing Partners’ Forum Webinar: 

“Dealing with The Underperforming or Misbehaving Partner”


In tackling this thorny subject our four panelists also explore a number of DIFFERENT definitions of underperformance, some of which go entirely overlooked in many firms.  


For example there is:


• the Obvious – the partner who for whatever reason is not achieving their billable hour performance standards;


• the Hoarder – that partner who holds tight all of their billable work to make themselves look good, without bothering to delegate that portion that they know full well could be done by juniors thereby providing better value to the client;


• the Gate Keeper – the partner who will not introduce any other lawyers to their clients even though they know full well that the more lawyers from the firm serving the client, the more loyal that client becomes; and


• the Deadbeat – that partner who is meeting billable goals, but meeting those standards by doing the same old schtick, often only marginally profitable, without bothering to invest any time in building their skills to make themselves more valuable.


Latest Webinar Episode -

Post #874 – February 16, 2021

Upcoming Managing Partners' Forum North America WEBINAR:

Dealing With The Underperforming or Misbehaving Partner

The underperforming or misbehaving partner in a professional firm is hard to ignore. It can be costly in addition to the risk of a potential time bomb regarding client relationships. In many cases the underperforming partner might not be a ‘newbie’ but a once high achieving partner that is now floundering due to any number of reasons. The misbehaving partner can be anywhere in a firm even amongst the star billers. Other partners are now pointing the finger at the firm’s leadership to deal with the bubbling animosity. Overall it creates an interesting challenge for firm leaders, firm values and firm cultures.

In this relevant moderated panel discussion hear from two firm leaders (accounting and law) that have had to deal with underperforming or misbehaving partners and also joining the panel are two leadership specialists that advise professional services firms.

Post #873 – January 28, 2021

When A Leader Needs to Confront Underperformance


One of the more difficult decisions that any firm leader or practice leader will be faced with, is when you have to confront and possibly remove someone on your team who is no longer “pulling their weight.”


When you are faced with this challenge (and you definitely will be at some time in your leadership tenure) you need to understand that the consequences of taking decisive action are rarely as dire as they might seem to you 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 always reasons to put off the decision to take decisive action. A number of leaders have admitted to me, that in hindsight they came up with all kinds of rationalizations to postpone a painful decision that they just knew was inevitable. In the end all they succeeded in doing was hurting both their team and crippling the team’s possible progress in a highly competitive marketplace.


No leader would ever tell you that this is the easy part of the job.  It isn’t!


Post #872 – January 8, 2021

Strategy Innovation: Getting To The Future FIRST

I am pleased to report a total online readership of 47,712

over the past 18 months since my latest e-Book was released,

according to metrics just reported to me from the good folks

at Legal Business World.

Thank you LBW!

Post #871 – December 27, 2020

Top Global Thought Leaders on Business Strategy


My sincere thanks to Thinkers360 for the honor in being acknowledged among their Global 20 Thought Leaders on Business Strategy.


Congrats to the Top 50 Global Thought Leaders & Influencers on Business Strategy.  To see the full list -OR- to participate by sharing your own content, sign-up (free) for Thinkers360 today:


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