Managing Partners Forum

Many thanks for inviting me to be a part of this great program! I thought it was outstanding and was honored to be part of it.

John J. Michalik
Former Exec Director, Association of Legal Administrators - Chicago, IL


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  • Building the Virtual Law Firm ** NEW **
    by Managing Partner Forum with Michael Moradzadeh and Chris Wilson

    An MPF Webinar Originally Broadcast on October 21, 2020

    We had a very interesting and thought-provoking conversation about the growing trend for law firms to move toward virtual business models as we work through the immediacy of the pandemic and look toward a post-COVID environment. Here are a few program highlights:

    • In the remote working environment, partner productivity has slightly increased, while associate and staff productivity have significantly decreased.
    • Twenty-eight percent (28%) of smaller and midsize law firms have decided to move to a more virtual business model. Fifty-one percent (51%) are considering it. 
    • The biggest concerns are the impacts on associate development and training, and maintaining a collaborative firm culture.
    Click here to hear the Webinar.
    Click here for Handout Materials.

  • Finding the Leader in You
    by Managing Partner Forum with John Fanburg, Mickey Maher and Leah Nelson

    An MPF Webinar Originally Broadcast on September 16, 2020

    The session was an open conversation about how law firm leaders find resolve and resilience in times of change and uncertainty. Thank you to our guest speakers: John Fanburg, Managing Member of Brach Eichler, LLC; Mickey Maher, Managing Partner of Hecht Solberg; and Leah Nelson, Founder of Nelson Leadership.

    Click here to hear the Webinar.
    Click here for Handout Materials.

  • Legal and Accounting Networks in the Time of COVID-19  
    by Association of International Law Firm Networks

    An On-Demand Webinar for the Association of International Law Firm Networks 

    In August, we led a discussion among four leaders of top law and accounting firm networks to learn how they have adapted and how they see the future roles of their organizations. Our panelists were: 

    • Terri Pepper Gavulic - Chief Business Officer, TerraLex – Miami, FL
    • Michael Reiss von Filski- Global CEO,  GGI (Geneva Group International) – Zurich, Switzerland
    • Martin Sharp - Executive Officer, DFK International– London, England
    • Timothy C. Violet - Executive Director, Harmonie – Minneapolis, MN
    It was an interesting session and holds value for you and your firm. We thank Steve McGarry and the AILFN team for inviting us to participate.

  • The Law Firm of the Future: The Managing Partner's Perspective  
    by Managing Partner Forum with Jon Pinney and Bob Young

    An MPF Webinar Originally Broadcast on July 22, 2020 

    Our guest speakers were Jon J. Pinney, Esq., Managing Partner of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz (KJK) in Cleveland, Ohio; and Robert A. Young, Esq., Managing Partner of English Lucas Priest & Owsley (ELPOLaw) in Bowling Green, Kentucky. We had a lively discussion about what leaders of mid-size law firms need to be thinking about during these transitional times, and here are a few program highlights:

    • The traditional law office is dead.
    • Smart investment in technology is critical going forward.
    • Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs) will continue to thrive and disrupt.
    • Forward-thinking law firms will dominate the market.
    This was the tenth program in our series of complimentary MPF Webinars we are calling "Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic." 

    Click here to hear the Webinar
    Click here for Handout Materials.

  • Leveraging Technology to Improve
    Your Firm's Performance and Profitability 

    by Managing Partner Forum with Lee Hovermale and Morris Tabush

    An MPF Webinar Originally Broadcast on July 8, 2020

    Currently the CEO of FlexManage, Lee has been in the legal technology field for more than three decades. Morris is the Founder and President of Tabush Group. Both are recognized thought leaders on technology and the law firm of the future. We survey registrants on several topics and here is what we learned this week:

    • 56% of workers prefer to stay working in a remote environment even after the restrictions are lifted
    • 41% of firm leaders say their firms will invest more heavily in technology in the wake of COVID-19
    • 51% of firms staff their technology needs mostly or entirely in-house. 18% outsource all of it.
    • Many firms are wasting lots of money on technology. Be strategic. Training is paramount.
    We extend our thanks to Lee, Morris and our co-host, Uri Gutfreund of Risk Strategies, for a terrific session with plenty of timely bench-marking data.

    Click here to hear the Webinar.
    Click here for Handout Materials.

  • Marketing Your Law Firm During a Pandemic  
    by Managing Partner Forum with Guy Alvarez and Lynn Tellefsen

    An MPF Webinar Originally Broadcast on June 24, 2020

    Since mid-March, we have been presenting an MPF Webinar series called "Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic." This session we called "Marketing Your Law Firm During a Pandemic" with Guy Alvarez, Founder of Good2BSocial, and Lynn Tellefsen, Chief Marketing and Business Development Director of Wilentz. Here are some of the highlights of what we learned:

    • 82% of participating law firm leaders believe that it is "very important" to build and maintain their firm's marketing efforts during the pandemic. Another 15% say it is "somewhat important."
    • 46% of firm leaders report that their firms provide business development training for all lawyers who want it.
    • Among digital marketing tactics, 78% report that their firms distribute e-newsletter/alerts, and 61% say they are presenting webinars.
    We had a terrific session and, as always, presented plenty of timely bench-marking data.

    As an added bonus for this session, participants were invited to register for “How Lawyers Can Use Social Media to Build their Brand and Grow their Practice,” an on-demand Webinar presented by Guy Alvarez. Click here to register.

    Click here to hear the Webinar.
    Click here for Handout Materials.

  • Your Firm's Culture in a Post-COVID-19 World 
    by Managing Partner Forum with Terry Isner and Leah Nelson

    An MPF Webinar Originally Broadcast on June 10, 2020

    On June 10th, we presented our seventh MPF Webinar in a series called "Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic." Our topic was “Your Firm’s Culture in a Post-COVID-19 World”, and our guest speakers were Terry Isner of Jaffe and Leah Nelson of Nelson Leadership. Here is what we learned this week:

    • 85% of firm leaders say their firm responses "better than expected" to the Pandemic.
    • 82% of them believe their firms will emerge from the Pandemic in a “stronger” position. 26% say “much stronger.”
    • 88% say firm culture is "very important" to their firms.
    • 85% believe that “culture” differentiates their law firms from competing firms in their markets.
    Those are big numbers! And they support our strong advice to put “firm culture” at the top of your firm’s priority list as we look forward and plan for the future. 

    Click here to hear the Webinar.
    Click here for Handout Materials.

  • The Law Office of the Future  
    by Managing Partner Forum with Sherry Cushman and Morris Tabush 

    An MPF Webinar Originally Broadcast on May 27, 2020

    On May 27th, we presented our sixth MPF Webinar in a series called "Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic." Every other Wednesday at 2:00pm ET, Uri Gutfreund and I co-host a dynamic, interactive conversation with legal industry experts on critical topics and issues. Our mission is assist law firms and their leaders navigate the COVID-19 crisis. In this Webinar, we talk about long-term impacts of the pandemic, with a focus on office space and technology. The session includes an abundance of timely data provided by participants when they register and via live audience polling. The handouts include our PowerPoint deck, survey results and supporting articles. 

    Click here to hear the Webinar.
    Click here for Handout Materials.

  • Finding Forgiveness in Your Law Firm's PPP Loan  
    by Managing Partner Forum with Scott Burke, Esq; Dan Mayo, JD; and Lisa Murray 

    An MPF Webinar Originally Broadcast on May 13, 2020

    On May 13th, we presented our fifth MPF Webinar in a series we're calling "Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic." Our most popular session to date – “Finding Forgiveness in Your Law Firm's PPP Loan” – with more than 250 law firm leaders in attendance for the live session. During the 60-minute program, we learned that 99% of law firms have applied for a PPP loan with most having received funding. But details of the program remain murky. Our panel did a great job bringing us up to speed on the latest developments. The handouts include our PP deck, online survey results, a few timely articles and the most recent (May 13, 2020) FAQ update. Be sure to check out the response to Question #46.

    Click here to hear the Webinar.
    Click here for Handout Materials.

  • Maintaining Productivity When People Work at Home  
    by Managing Partner Forum with Dr. Sharon Meit Abrahams, Legal Talent Advisors

    An MPF Webinar Originally Broadcast on April 29, 2020 On April 29th, we presented our fourth MPF Webinar called “Maintaining Productivity When People Work at Home.” Sharon Abrahams joined us to discuss strategies to maintain and improve productivity when lawyers and support staff work from home. Here is some of what they told us: 

    • 53% of firm leaders believe that "productivity" declines of 10% or more when people work from home. 11% see declines of more than 25%.
    • Too many distractions, lack of structure and little accountability are the primary reasons.
    • 73% think the pandemic has accelerated long term trends in the profession in areas like flex-time, work-at-home and the use of technology.
    Interestingly, not one person who completed the survey anticipates a return to "business as usual" when the pandemic is behind us. The handouts include our PP deck, online survey results, Sharon’s article called “How to Make Working from Home Work for You,” and Cushman Wakefield’s “How-to Guide for Reopening Your Workplace.”

    Click here to hear the Webinar.
    Click here for Handout Materials.

  • International Review - Spring/Summer 2020  
    by Patrick J. McKenna, McKenna Associates, Inc.

    As always, Patrick delivers a terrific set of articles for law firm leaders in his e-magazine called International Review. In this edition: 

    • "Having a Real Industry Focus: Because Clients Want Firms that Know their Business"
    • "A Lucrative Micro-Niche: Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine"
    • "Effective Strategy Often Requires Being First and Being Exceptional"
    • "Having Your Groups Firing on All Cylinders"
     Along with Patrick, we're a strong proponent of industry focused practice groups!

  • Managing Expenses During an Economic Downturn 
    by Managing Partner Forum and HBR Consulting

    An MPF Webinar Originally Broadcast on April 15, 2020

    Since many firms are looking at ways to reduce expenses, we invited Kevin McClean and Lee Garbowitz from HBR Consulting to discuss "Managing Expenses During an Economic Downturn."  In addition, here's what we learned in this week's brief online survey in which 75 law firms, mostly mid-size, participated: 

    • 57% of law firms project total firm revenue in 2020 to decline between 11-25% due to the coronaviris outbreak. 11% anticipate a hit of more than 25%.
    • Postponing major investments, eliminating discretionary spending (mostly travel, client events and the like),and reducing partner draws are the top three ways firms are reducing short-term expenses.
    • As of Wednesday, 99% of firms reported that they had applied for a PPP loan. Nearly half said they had been approved, and 12% reported that they had already received the funds.
    Click here to hear the Webinar.
    Click here for Handout Materials.

  • The Psychology of Leadership in Times of Crisis  
    by Managing Partner Forum with Dr. Larry Richard, LawyerBrain LLC 

    An MPF Webinar Originally Broadcast on April 1, 2020

    On April 1st, we presented our second of a series of MPF Webinars called “Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic.” We invited Dr. Larry Richard, a long-time MPF Faculty member and the world's leading expert on the lawyer personality and the psychology of leading lawyers, to share his insights and guidance to law firm leaders to help them in the unsettled times before us. He talks about lawyers' need for predictability, control and connection; and that all of three of these needs have been disrupted in an abrupt and dramatic way.  Larry talks about the importance of calm and steady leadership in times of crisis, with plenty of communication, authenticity and gratitude.

    Click here to hear the Webinar.
    Click here for handout materials.

  • Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic  
    by Managing Partner Forum with Uri Gutfreund, Risk Strategies

    An MPF Webinar Originally Broadcast on March 18, 2020

    On March 18th, we presented a 45-minute MPF Webinar called “Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic.” During the session, Uri Gutfreund and I provided guidance and resources to firm leaders on how to lead their firms through this unfolding crisis. The handouts include our PP deck, links to resources, online survey results, a template called “Pandemic Preparation and Response Plan” and a template for a “Business Continuity Plan.” 

    Click here to hear the Webinar.
    Click here for handout materials.

  • Law Practice Today: The Leadership Issue
    by ABA’s Law Practice Division

    Law Practice Today is a monthly digital publication by the ABA’s Law Practice Division that provides “the most current information and trends in the legal industry by delivering anecdotes from professional in the field of law.” Each year, they publish “The Leadership Issue” featuring a collection of articles about law firm leadership and governance. Among the articles in this issue:

    • Leadership: Do We Have it All Wrong?
      Susan Letterman White
    • Building a Culture of Rainmakers
      David King Keller
    • Nine Simple Actions to Create a Culture of Leadership
      Anna Rappaport
    • It’s Never Too Early to Plan for Management Transition
      David R. Pierce
    • Five Traits of Champion Managers
      Andrew Elowitt and Marcia Watson Wasserman
    This is good stuff.

  • Current Issues, Trends and the Challenges Facing Today’s Law Firms…
    And What They’re Doing About It!

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Too many lawyers. More demanding clients. Increasing competition. Industry consolidation. Globalizing economy. Advances in technology. Proliferation of disruptors. Yikes! What’s a law firm to do? As we know, change surrounds the legal industry, yet smaller and mid-size firms have been slow to adapt and evolve. On July 19th, we presented a hard-hitting program for 70 managing partners and firm administrators in Chicago. To prepare, we drew upon bench-marking data we collected for The MPF Leadership and Governance Survey (147 firms, April 2016) and the Audience Polling Results we collected at The MPF 2016 Leadership Conference (87 firm leaders, May 2016). We also provided some strong advice to leaders of mid-size firms. Here are a few highlights:

    • Mid-size law firms are slowly moving toward more formal, structured governance models.
    • Firms with strategic plans report positive results, yet more than half of mid-size firms don’t have one.
    • Marketing, succession planning and growth top the list of strategies priorities for mid-size firms.
    • Despite what we read and many have predicted, alternative fee arrangements are not taking off.
    • 60% of managing partners confess that they are not dealing with problematic partners as they know they should.
    This is fresh and relevant bench-marking information with more to follow when we publish our soon-to-be released MPF White Paper.

  • Building for the Future
    Audience Polling Results from The MPF 2016 Leadership Conference

    by Managing Partner Forum

    On May 5, 2016, more than 100 managing partners and law firm leaders gathered in Atlanta for The MPF 2016 Leadership Conference. During the opening session, we distribute audience polling devices and asked participants to weigh in on a variety of issues important to leading a successful mid-size law firm. The polling technology is fun, and the results are anonymous and instantaneous. Looking at the data, here are a few highlights from this year’s Conference:

    • Ten percent (10%) of firm leaders report that their firms use psychological assessment tools as part of their hiring and recruiting process. With few exceptions, Fortune 1000 companies use these instruments routinely as they onboard and assess talent. Given the importance of recruiting and retaining top legal talent, shouldn’t your law firm be using them as well?
    • Thirty-eight percent (38%) of firm leaders say their law firms provide leadership training to junior partners and associates. Sixty percent (60%) say their firms provide training in marketing and business development. To be competitive in the long run, law firms must invest in the “soft skills” of their young lawyers.
    • Seventy-three percent (73%) of firm leaders report that that their firms are doing a “fair” or “poor” job when it comes to grooming future leaders. Just two percent (2%) say “excellent.” If your firm’s owners care about succession, here’s an area where most firms can improve.
    • Forty percent (40%) of firm leaders say their law firms are proactively dealing with underperforming equity partners. Fifty-nine percent (59%) report that they want to act, but have yet to do anything about the situation. Healthy and successful law firms recognize the importance dealing with partners who aren’t pulling their weight.
    As always, this year’s MPF Audience Polling Results provide great bench-marking data to share with your colleagues. Please let us know if you’d like them in PowerPoint format.

  • Preparing Your Firm’s Future Leaders for Success 
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Last week, we spoke at the 20th Annual Meeting of LEGUS, an international network of law firms, in New Orleans. We were asked to discuss the importance of investing in young lawyers and grooming them for a successful future. Generally, law schools aren’t doing a very good job training and developing “practice-ready” lawyers. And most law firms aren’t doing a stand-out job either when it comes to training them in areas such as time management, billing practices, marketing and business development. (By the way, click here to read what Skadden is up to.)

    In addition to the obligatory PowerPoint slide deck, my handout materials include five great articles about law firm leadership.

    The MPF 2015 Leadership Conference

    On May 7th, more than 100 managing partners and law firm leaders gathered in Atlanta to learn with and from peers at our 24th law firm leadership conference. During the Opening Session, we featured audience polling technology to collect input on a variety of issues ranging from strategic planning to the authority they have as managing partners. The results were instant and anonymous. Here are some of the more interesting findings:

    • Thirty-five percent (35%) of firm leaders report that their firms have a written strategic plan. Twenty-three percent (23%) say they’re working on one.
    • Of firms with a plan, sixty-seven percent (67%) attribute improved sharing and teamwork to the plan. Fifty-two percent (52%) attribute improved profitability to the plan.
    • Of firms without a plan, lack of time is the number one reason why.
    • Eighty-nine percent (89%) of managing partners say they enjoy the leadership role.
    • Seventy percent (70%) say they have no formal job description, and half don’t want one! They like the flexibility.
    • Leading change, implementing long-term strategic goals and building consensus among partners are the three most important contributions leaders believe they provide their firms.
    Altogether, we presented twenty-seven (27) questions, and the results provide terrific bench-marking data for you and your firm.

    The Critical Role of Law Firm Leadership

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Change surrounds the legal industry. The marketplace for legal services is more competitive than ever, and the pace of change will accelerate into the future. Law firms that embrace strategic planning and innovation, invest in their people and their clients, and build cultures that encourage teamwork and accountability are emerging as the clear winners. At the same time, once great law firms are falling apart and many won’t survive. To remain viable and competitive, law firms must operate more like businesses, and that means strong, effective and passionate leadership.

    The MPF 2014 Leadership Conference 

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    We’re pleased to share the audience polling results from The MPF 2014 Leadership Conference held on May 8, 2014 in Atlanta. More than 100 managing partners and firm leaders participated. The bench-marking data in this slide deck is especially relevant to smaller and mid-size firms. Among the highlights:

    • Sixty-eight percent (68%) of managing partners believe that the legal profession has experienced profound and permanent change over the past ten years.
    • Thirty-two percent (32%) of firm leaders are “very concerned” about their firm’s long-term viability.
    • Sixty-five percent (65%) don’t think their younger lawyers are up to the task of inheriting the firm.
    • Seventy percent (70%) believe that a firm-wide strategic plan is “absolutely essential” to lead a successful firm.
    • The top three initiatives firms have implemented in response to the changing market are: 1) Ramp up marketing and business development. 2) Improve internal processes and procedures. 3) Pursue lateral hires with books of business.
    • Eighty-eight percent (88%) of managing partners say they enjoy the leadership role.
    More than ever, strong and effective leadership is necessary in today’s highly competitive and rapidly changing market.  

  • Association of Legal Administrators 

    According to its website, “The ALA is the undisputed leader for the business of law, focused on the delivery of cutting-edge management and leadership products and services to the global legal community.”

    If you are not familar with the ALA, you should be; and if your firm administrator is not a member of the Association of Legal Administrators, he or she should consider joining and getting involved. The ALA has more than 9,500 members and 110 chapters throughout the United States.

    Its 2014 Annual Conference and Exposition will be held May 19-22, 2014, in Toronto.

  • Law Firm Leadership:
    The Critical Role of Firm Administrators 

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    On April 16, 2013 MPF President and CEO John Remsen, Jr. spoke at the ALA's Annual Conference on a topic near and dear to The Managing Partner Forum.  It was entitled "Law Firm Leadership: The Critical Role of Firm Administrators." When it comes to firm administrators, our message to managing partners is really quite simple. As managing partner, you're the CEO of a multi-million dollar enterprise. To be most effective in the role, hire and empower a trusted and competent COO to take time-consuming day-to-day matters off your desk, so you can focus on more important big picture issues. More than 200 attended the session. Click above to download the handout materials.  

  • Sterling Strategies' Question of the Month 
    Managing Under Productive Partners

    by John Sterling

    Each month, John Sterling offers insightful analysis of his “Law Firm Strategy Question of the Month” and presents a new question for the coming month. Recent topics include:
    •  Partner Compensation System Satisfaction,
    •  Profit Improvement Strategies, and
    •  Creating the Model Partner.
    It’s good stuff and we encourage you to check it out.  

  • How to Be a More Effective Firm Leader 
    - PDF of Handout Materials

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    On August 29th, we presented a Managing Partner Breakfast Roundtable in San Diego. The meeting attracted 20 firm leaders from the region and was sponsored by UPS. The topic was "How to Be a More Effective Firm Leader." These handout materials include some terrific benchmarking data on how 160 managing partners rate their firms in twelve critical areas.

  • ALA's Career Center 
    by Association of Legal Administrators

    Founded in 1971, the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) has grown to more than 10,000 members in 30 countries. If your firm is looking for a new administrator, its Career Center has a number of articles and resources that will be helpful to you, including:
    -   Evaluating Your Firm's Needs
    -   The Candidate Search Process
    -   Defining the Role of the Firm Administrator
    -   How to Succeed When Hiring for the First Time

  • ABA Web Seminar:
    Strategic Planning for Law Firms: 10 Critical Steps to Success

    by John Remsen, Jr., Vincent L. Valenza, Esq. and Robert A. Young, Esq.

    Even today, 60% of mid-size commercial law firms do not have a written strategic plan. Among those that do, 90% report that it has led to improved firm profitability and performance. Why, then, do most firms still not have a firm-wide plan? The reasons vary...but it's not really that hard if you go about it in a thoughtful, systematic way. 
    MPF CEO John Remsen, Jr. led a Web seminar presented by the ABA's Law Practice Management Section in September 2011. Panelists included MPF Advisory Board member, Vince Valenza, Managing Principal McNamee Lochner in Albany, New York, and Bob Young, Managing Partner of English Lucas in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Allison Shields was the moderator.
    This is a timely and helpful program if your firm is thinking about embarking on a strategic planning initiative. Click here for more information and to download the session.

  • The MPF for Northeastern Law Firms
    Results of Audience Participation Session

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    We asked a series of questions, utilizing state-of-the-art audiance participation technology, to more than 35 managing partners and firm leaders at the inaugural Managing Partner Forum for Northeastern Law Firms held on November 4, 2011 in Boston. Their answers are consistent with previous polling sessions. 80% do not have a job description and 85% have no planned exit strategy. We think they should have both. 

  • Harvard Business Review

    It's a good idea for firm leaders to look outside the legal industry from time to time to gain leadership and management perspectives and ideas. This is the best place to find them. The Harvard Business Review ($79/year for 12 issues; $129/year includes HBR online) sets the standard when it comes to monthly business newsletters.

  • Desirable Dimensions of Executive Committee Member Performance
    by William C. Cobb

    This is an invaluable scorecard. Rank executive committee members on a scale of 1 to 5 based on performance attributes including collegiality, marketing and technical expertise.

  • Description of Responsibilities: Managing Partner
    by William C. Cobb

    Most law firms don't have a written job description for the managing partner. Grab this one. How does it compare to your responsibilities and duties as leader of the firm?