Patrick J. McKenna
Professional Profile

The Financial Post labels McKenna "a professional firm management and marketing guru, with a client base stretching from Britain to the United States."

Jim Kouzes, Chairman emeritus, tompeters! company described him as "a highly seasoned and extraordinarily credible professional." identified him as one of twenty International Visionaries in the legal profession for "their vision, sheer hard work, professional eminence, and humanity."

Managing Partner Magazine named McKenna "one of the professions most well respected and leading experts on law firm management" in 2011.

According to Global Legal Post [UK], "Patrick McKenna is one of the world's top legal consultants.  Author of a number of best-selling books on management, he regularly speaks and teaches law firm leaders."

And Lawdragon idenified him as one of "the most trusted names in legal consulting."

An internationally recognized authority on professional service firms, Patrick McKenna has, since 1983, worked with the top management of premier law firms around the globe to discuss, challenge and escalate their thinking on how to manage and compete effectively.

The Financial Post labeled McKenna "a professional firm management and marketing guru with a client base stretching from Britain to the United States."  Jim Kouzes, Chairman Emeritus, tompeters! company described him as "a highly seasoned and extraordinarily credible professional."  And his consulting expertise was acknowledged when he was identified through independent research compiled and published by LawDragon as "one of the most trusted names in legal consulting and by American Lawyer magazine as a"long time succession consultant and coach to new firm leaders.

Patrick is the author of a pioneering text on law firm marketing, Practice Development: Creating a Marketing Mindset (Butterworths, 1989), recognized by an international journal as being "among the top ten books that any professional services marketer should have." His subsequent work includes Herding Cats: A Handbook for Managing Partners and Practice Leaders (IBMP, 1995); and Beyond Knowing: 16 Cage-Rattling Questions To Jump-Start Your Practice Team (IBMP, 2000).

A prolific writer on the challenges of firm leadership, his book (co-authored with David Maister) First Among Equals: How to Manage a Group of Professionals, (The Free Press, 2002) topped business bestseller lists in the United States, Canada and Australia; has been translated into nine languages; is currently in its seventh printing; and received an award for being one of the best business books of 2002.  Leaders across various professions like Kenneth LeStrange, Chairman of Aon Risk Services; Douglas McCracken, CEO of Deloitte Consulting; Claudio Fernandez Araoz, Executive with Egon Zehnder and Partners; and Allan Koltin, President of the Practice Development Institute have described the book as 'the essential guide to practice leadership.'

Always obsessed with innovation, Patrick was instrumental in introducing the FIRST global (InnovAction) awards initiative in 2003, in conjunction with the College of Law Practice Management, to identify and celebrate global law firm innovation.

In 2006, McKenna's e-book First 100 Days: Transitioning A New Managing Partner (NXTBook) earned glowing reviews, read by firm leaders in 63 different countries.  This publication culminated in Patrick conducting a one-day master class for new firm leaders that graduated (before Covid interrupted) over 80 registrants from AmLaw 100 and 200 legal; as well as international accounting and consulting firms, hailing from four countries.

According to Hugh Verrier, Chairman of White & Case: "I was struck by the synthesis of the issues you presented.  It was amazingly clear and comprehensive given the breadth of the topic and the short time available.  I was delighted to attend the event and I learned a lot from it."

According to Of Counsel: McKenna knows a thing or two about the concerns of managing partners. He has written a book about law firm leadership transition. In addition for the last two years, he has conducted seminars to prepare incoming leaders about their what they should expect of their new roles and how they might best meet those demands. (2008)

The book Management Skills (John Wiley) named McKenna among the leading thinkers in the field of management together with Warren Bennis; and In The Company of Leaders included his work amongst notable luminaries like Dr. Marshall Goldsmith.  His twelfth book, "Industry Specialization: Making Competitors Irrelevant" (Legal Business World Publishing) was released in mid-January 2022 as an e-Book and downloaded by over 12,000 readers internationally in the first three weeks.

McKenna's published articles have appeared in over 50 leading professional journals, newsletters, and online sources; and his work has been featured in Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Business Week, The Globe and Mail, The Economist, Investors Business Daily, The Financial Times. He has served as Contributing Editor for Of Counsel: The Legal Practice and Management Report (New York) for the past eight years.

McKenna has lectured on professional service management and marketing for the Canadian, American and International Bar Associations; the Canadian Tax Foundation, the International Union of Lawyers, the Institute For Law Firm Management, The Institute For International Research, the Society for Marketing Professional Services, Centaur Conferences Europe and the Financial Times Of London.  He is a frequently requested speaker, having appeared in London, Geneva, Vienna, Munich, Marrakech, Istanbul, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Toronto for notable professional conferences and symposiums.

McKenna did his MBA graduate work at the Canadian School of Management, is among the first alumni at Harvards Leadership in Professional Service Firms program (1995).  

McKenna has worked with at least one of the top ten largest law firms in over a dozen different countries.  His work with North American law firms has evidenced him serving at least 62 of the largest NLJ 250 firms.  His three decades of experience led to his being the subject of a Harvard Law School Case Study entitled: Innovations In Legal Consulting (2011). He was the first "expert" in professional service firms admitted to the Association of Corporate Executive Coaches; was the recipient on an Honorary Fellowship from Leaders Excellence of Harvard Square (2015); and voted by the readers of Legal Business World as an international Thought Leader.

McKenna serves on a number of corporate and advisory boards including Intraspexion Inc. (AI legal tech); LBW Broadcasting (international media); True Balance Longevity Institute (health care); Alterity ADR (dispute resolution) and is a BrainTrust Member of Quantumrun, a global research and futurists group. He was acknowledged in 2020 as one of the Top 20 Global Thought Leaders on Business Strategy (Thinkers360)

McKenna is most often brought in to work with firms on issues associated with setting a strategic direction and meaningful competitive differentiation; initiating change; instilling client service excellence; and developing systems for effective firm governance and leadership succession.


November - December 2017

First International Legal Think-Tank Formed

2017 saw the formation of the first International Legal Thank-Tank (LIFT - Legal Institute for Forward Thinking) comprised of thought leaders from three countries that meet to brainstorm, debate and analyze top issues and future trends impacting the legal industry with an objective of 'raising the awareness of market disruption.'  Members include:

• Ronald Friedmann
• Professor William Henderson
• Patrick J. McKenna
• David J. Parnell
• Edwin Reeser
• Michael B. Rynowecer
• Dr. Silvia Hodges Silverstein

• Professor Richard Susskind

In an inaugural December meeting in New York City, the group discussed trends and challenges facing the profession.  A small excerpt of the days intense discussions are available on Forbes

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Patrick J. McKenna Ashridge House 11226 - 60 Street Edmonton, Canada T5W 3Y8
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