"Like many fast growing law firms, we struggled with the challenges of managing dozens of strong, independent personalities. We knew we wanted to get ahead of the curve on issues such as equity and compensation, decision-making authority, and which practice areas to grow. With Bill’s support, we have built a broader, sustainable Executive Committee. As a founder and its first Managing Partner, I can’t thank Bill enough."
Commercial and Medical Malpractice Litigation
Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt & Fader
NJ, PA, and NY
Whether you’re a sole owner, managing partner, or practice group leader, it’s almost impossible to be at the center of your organization and view it objectively. And, given that you’re probably practicing law full time (or trying to), it’s equally challenging to stay on top of best practices in law firm management, governance, and strategic planning.
How would you assess your firm’s organizational coherence?
- Are major decisions made in a way that generates buy-in from those affected?
- Does your firm have a 2 to 4 year growth plan in place that the large majority of lawyers and staff actively support?
- Is workflow guided by careful review of needs or by default (e.g., “that’s just how we do it”)?
- Do you have a plan in place to handle the slowing down and succession of senior partners?
- Are roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities made clear and consistently upheld?
- Is your firm free from cliques and factions among lawyers and staff members that hinder efficiency and cause tension in the office?
- Do your firm’s compensation and performance evaluation systems serve to improve its culture?
- Is your firm’s use of technology helping you to gain competitive advantage (both general IT and legal-sector specific)?
- Are business fundamentals such as financial analysis and marketing managed rigorously (as opposed to on an ad-hoc basis)
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your firm is not realizing its potential. If you answered “no” to three or more, I can help you assess where you are set an appropriate course of action.
Too many law firm owners and law firm leaders believe that as long as they have great lawyers, everything else will take care of itself. Yet law firms, whether big or small, are complex organizations made up of human beings with widely varying backgrounds, personalities, values, and communications styles (just a few of the factors that influence any group’s culture). And, in turn, how well these individuals work together — particularly in times of change — is a barometer of how well the organization works as a whole.
From its leaders who establish direction, to its receptionist who interacts with the public, the people in a high-performing firm:
- Understand and are committed to the firm’s mission
- Communicate with each other effectively
- Are clear about how the work gets done in the best way
- Deal with differences of opinion constructively
The benefits of a high-performing organization — i.e., a law firm that operates as a well-run business — are readily apparent. Such organizations are more profitable and more enjoyable places to work. They’re far better equipped to take advantage of the changes occurring in the legal service sector. And, they inevitably attract and retain higher-quality clients.
Call me at 203.876.8999 if you’d like to explore any of these issues and how I might be able to help.