- The Disappearing Act:
Why Millennials Leave Companies –
and How L&D Can Entice Them to Stay
Millennials have now surpassed GenXers as the largest generation in the US workforce and will soon constitute the highest percentage of lawyers in private practice. Yet, many law firm leaders and their firms remain vexed by the challenges associated with attracting and retaining tomorrow’s legal talent. This great article was brought to our attention by Dr. Sharon Meit Abrahams, and it says that Millennials seek the following attributes in their work environments:
- Mergers Have Increased Substantially This Year,
But Pay Attention to the Red Flags
by Robert Denney
We met Bob Denney almost 30 years ago at a conference in Minneapolis, and we've been good friends ever since. He is a pioneer in law firm management and marketing. In his July 2015 Legal Communiqué, Bob lists 15 "red flags" that often arise as law firms consider a combination. Among them:
- The New Firm Name
- Unproductive Partners
- Unfunded Pension Liabilities
- To Merge or Not to Merge? That is the Question!
by John Remsen, Jr.
We've worked with numerous firms over the past several years on this question, and our advice is often the same:
- Bigger is not always better.
- The combination should be thoughtful and strategic.
- The sum of the parts should be greater than before.
- Cultural compatibility is paramount.
- Think long and hard before you act, because undoing a bad deal is expensive and can get very ugly.
- Law Firms Consolidating at Record Setting Pace
by Neil Gluckman
While the vast majority of managing partners of smaller and mid-size firms say their firms want to maintain independent, it’s interesting to note that merger activity among US law firms is at all-time high according to The American Lawyer. Citing Altman Weil’s latest merger report, Houston and Chicago are the hottest markets for law firm expansion, and most mergers involve larger firms acquiring smaller boutique firms to establish a new area of expertise.
- Lateral Partner Integration:
Getting One Plus One to Equal Three
by Andi Cullins and Steve Nelson
Be very strategic and deliberate if your firm plans to grow through lateral hiring at the partner level, because you can’t afford to make mistakes! Consider these findings:
- 75% of managing partners expect lateral hiring at the partner level to increase over the next five years, according to a recent LexisNexis/American Lawyer Media survey.
- 28% of them say that lateral hiring has not been a very effective growth strategy for their firms, according to the same survey.
- 40% of lateral hires don’t work out says another study conducted by the Citi Private Bank Firm Group. Smock Consultants says that 75% of laterals don’t work out.
- $600,000 is the estimated direct and indirect expense associated with hiring a lateral partner.
- Jackson Lewis Move May Sway BigLaw on Associate Billables
by Scott Flaherty, Law 360
Every now and then, a reporter will call to ask for comment about a trend in the legal industry or about the activity of a specific law firm. In this case, Jackson Lewis, the national labor and employment firm, has announced that, effective, January 1, it will no longer include billable hours among the criteria to evaluate its associate attorneys. Rather, it will look at work quality, efficiency, pro bono and responsiveness to assess associate performance. Is this the beginning of a trend? Personally, I think not. Associates should be evaluated based on a multitude of factors…with billable hours at the top of the list.
- The Future is Here:
10 Trends and What Your Firm Should be Asking Itself
by Susan Saltonstall Duncan
No doubt, the legal profession has experienced tumultuous change over the past 20 years. Accelerated by the Great Recession, many of these developments are permanent and will forever change the business of law, the experts seem to agree.
In her well-researched article, Susan discusses ten trends to which successful law firms must adapt. They include:
- The growing oversupply of lawyers,
- More savvy and demanding clients,
- Exponential growth in legal process outsourcing, and
- The disappearance of the traditional law firm model.
- The Model Partner:
Balancing a Mix of Positive Contributions
by John Sterling
In July 2012, Sterling Strategies conducted some interesting research attempting to identify the characteristics of the "model partner" in a law firm. According to John's research, the characteristics, in order of importance, are:
- Book of Business,
- Working Attorney Collections, and
- Teamwork / Sharing / Firm Citizenship.
- Guidelines for Equity Partners
by Selected Authors
In far too many law firms, the path to partnership is unclear and unspoken. For many, it's a matter of time served, coupled with the fact that the would-be partner has done a reasonably good job meeting minimum billable hour and/or collections requirements (most of the time anyway) and hasn't pissed off too many partners along the way. We think there's much more to it than that. We also think that the path to partnership and the criteria to achieve (and maintain) status as an equity partner should be clear and in writing. Owners of law firms should act and contribute like owners, not loyal employees. And that means, among other things, mentoring younger lawyers, active participation in governance, and a book of business. These articles discuss the issue.
- Two-Tiered Partnership Structures
by Selected Authors
We like two-tiered partnership structures and, for most law firms, they make a lot of sense for a lot of reasons. Simply stated, owners of law firms should act and contribute like owners, not employees. And that means, among other things, mentoring younger lawyers, active participation in governance, and a book of business. There's more to it than time served. The two-tiered structure enables the firm to keep competent legal technicians who've been around awhile and have much to contribute – but don't bring what it takes to be an owner – on the payroll.
- Take Responsibility for Rising Stars
by Jeffrey M. Cohn, Rakesh Khurana and Laura Reeves
This article contends that companies that are good at growing leaders do so in the trenches at the “line manager” level, not through their HR departments. That would equate to a department head and practice group leader in the context of a law firm. It includes a “Leadership Development Checklist” on how to grow great leaders.
- Sustainability: How Values-driven Law Firms Are Surviving
Tough Times and Prospering Over the Long Term
by William R. Blackburn
This thought-provoking article was featured in Law Practice Today, the ABA's monthly online magazine. In it, William Blackburn reports on a growing number of law firms that have adopted new models of governance to help them survive, even thrive, in both good times and bad. He profiles numerous firms that have implemented broad-based sustainability initiatives -- cultural, social, economic, environmental, and financial -- to ensure their long-term prosperity and well-being.
- Associates Survey 2010:
They Survived Economic Downturn, but Now What?
by Drew Combs, The American Lawyer
Now just might be a great time to recruit talented young lawyers away from the big law firms. This survey of 5,092 mid-level associates at AmLaw 200 firms reveals that they are not happy campers these days. Stagnant salaries, reduced benefits, poor internal communication and increasing workloads are the primary reasons. The number looking for a new job has doubled in the past year, with half looking for a better "life/work balance."
- What's Really Going On In Today's Legal Departments
by Lauren Williamson
Good news for smaller and mid-sized firms, according to this article which appears in the current issue of Inside Counsel magazine. According to a recent survey of over 550 in-house counsel, 65% say they have retained more smaller, regional firms over the past two years. The reason? Lower price tag for legal services. But there is even better news. They say they will continue using smaller firms, even after the economy improves.
- Success Stories:
Eight Ways to Help Your Firm Survive - and Thrive
by Erin Brereton
This article from ALA's Legal Management magazine provides numerous practical, common-sense ways a law firm can improve its profitability. Among its suggestions: Stay current on collections and invest in technology to improve efficiency.
- Associate Pay Cuts Here to Stay, Say Firms and Analysts
by Julie Triedman
According to this article that originally appeared on AmericanLawyer.com in December, a growing number of law managing partners and consultants say that steep cuts in associate compensation are here to stay. "We do not see any movement to reinstate pre-recession pay levels," says Altman Weil consultant Jim Cotterman. Starting salaries for first-year associates reached a staggering $160,000 a year at blue-chip firms in New York, Los Angeles and Washington.
- Trends in Partner Compensation
by Jane Sender
Compensation is a hot-button topic for almost every managing partner. It is also a critical driver behind the lateral movement of equity partners. This article by placement specialist Jane Sender provides an overview of recent trends in law firm compensation systems, including open vs. closed, and formula vs. subjective systems.
- New Report Shows Signs of Life in Law Firm Merger Market
by Karen Sloan
The law firm merger market is starting to reawaken according to separate reports published by Hildebrandt International and Altman Weil. Although both reports show that firms aren’t ready to resume the highly aggressive growth strategies contemplated just 18 months ago, the market has started to heat up again. However, "it has turned from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market when it comes to acquiring small firms,” says Altman Weil consultant Bill Brennan.
- Why More than 75% of Minority Female Lawyers Leave Law Firms Within 5 Years
by Debra Cassens Weiss
Research firm Catalyst conducted a survey of minority female lawyers and offers these insights into why most of these women are leaving law firms within the first five years.
- Young Professionals: Cultivate the Habits of Friendship
by David Maister
Law firms often struggle with how to get associates and younger professionals involved in business development early in their careers. In this article, Maister offers the best piece of advice - they should start by cultivating the habits of friendship. Forward this must-read primer to your associates today!
- Diversity – The Two-Edged Sword
by Peter A. Giuliani
Diversity is on the minds of most managing partners and it's definitely important to your clients and prospective recruits. This article touches on the economics associated with creating a "family-friendly" workplace.
- Facilitating Cross-Generational Dialogues within Work Teams
by Phyllis Weiss Haserot
How do you communicate with the younger professionals in your firm without sounding like an adult in a PEANUTS cartoon? "Wa-wah, wa-wah." Haserot specializes in helping firms get things done by understanding the different communications styles, work ethics and career goals across the generations. Take these tips into your next team meeting.
- Generational Perspective of Online Networking
by Phyllis Weiss Haserot
This is a quick read. Peruse these perspectives on social networking from the different generations in the workplace.
- Your Future: Is There a Merger There?
by William C. Cobb
This article starts off by asking "Are you going to follow the lemmings or set your own course?" The lemmings that Cobb refers to are firms that make merger and acquisition decisions based on practice trends or in order to keep up with the firm down the street. Learn the three key models that will help you determine whether merger is in your future and set your own course.
- What You Need to Know about Mentoring the New Generations
by Devon Scheef and Diane Thiefoldt
At no other time in our nation's history have we had this many different generations - Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millenials - working side-by-side. See if you can identify with any of the characteristics for your generation and learn how to mentor the people from other age ranges inside your firm.