Managing Partners Forum

The Managing Partner Idea Exchanges (MPIEs) are excellent.

Edward C. Winslow, III, Esq.
Brooks Pierce - Greensboro, NC


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  • ALA 2017 Compensation & Benefits Survey Reports 
    by Association of Legal Administrators

    For this year's Reports, ALA (Association of Legal Administrators) has collected data for 60+ different positions in 40+ metropolitan areas, including compensation information for law firm COOs, Executive Directors and other key positions, as well as key staffing ratios and associate billable hour expectations. Importantly, the Reports break down the data by firm size, region and a myriad of other factors. With 400+ pages of information, these Reports are essential tools to determine compensation and benefits for your firm's management staff. MPF readers get $100 off the purchase price. The promotional code is “MPF2017.”

  • 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.

  • How to Build Trust
    by John Spence

    This seven-and-a-half (7-1/2) minute video about building trust and leading change is well worth the time. In it, Spence talks about how effective change leaders can build trust among those they lead. He discusses the “Four C's of Trust:” Consistently Communicating that You Are Competent and that You Care.

    He talks further about “high source credibility” that you, as a leader, earn over time as you competently and reliably handle situations and relationships with those around you. Importantly, trust can take weeks, months, even years to build, but it can be lost in an instant. Building trust among partners is especially important for law firm leaders who are charged to lead an especially tough group - lawyers who are high on skepticism, hate change and love autonomy. (See "Herding Cats" article by Dr. Larry Richard.)

    Powerful stuff.

    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?