Managing Partners Forum

The Managing Partner Idea Exchanges were the best part of the day. I very much appreciate the opportunity to participate and will be here again in the future.

R. Bradley Carr, Esq.
Andersen Tate Mahaffey & McGarity - Lawrenceville, GA

Online Surveys

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MPF Online Surveys


From time to time, The Managing Partner Forum conducts online surveys on issues important to leading a successful law firm. We hope you find them helpful.

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  • Audience Polling Results from MPF 2016 Leadership Conference
    by Managing Partner Forum

    Each year at the MPF Leadership Conference, we deploy audience polling technology to pose 20-25 questions to participating firm leaders. The results are anonymous and instantaneous. These survey results include participation from 86 managing partners who attended The MPF Leadership Conference in May 2016.

  • The 2016 Managing Partner Forum Leadership & Governance Survey
    by Jaffe and Managing Partner Forum

    This survey drills down on leadership and governance models at smaller and mid-size US law firms. Conducted in April 2016, the survey consists of 40 questions and 147 managing partners and firm leaders participated.

  • MPF 2015 Survey of Smaller and Mid-Size Law Firms
    by Managing Partner Forum and Thomson Reuters

    Earlier this year, we partnered with Thomson Reuters to conduct the most comprehensive survey on the state of smaller and mid-size US law firms. One hundred sixty five (165) managing partners and firm leaders participated, representing firms with 10 to 250 lawyers. This data is simply the best benchmarking information available on a wide range of issues important to mid-size US law firms. Here are just a few "factoids" from the survey:

    • Fifty-six percent (56%) of firm leaders hold the title "Managing Partner." "Chief Executive Officer" is the second most popular job title at eight percent (8%), followed by "President" at seven percent (7%).
    • Fifty-five percent (55%) of firm leaders say they do not have job descriptions associated with their leadership roles.
    • Forty-one percent (41%) of participating firms belong to at least one law firm network, such as ALFA International, Meritas or TAGLaw.
    • Topping the list of firm-wide strategic objectives for 2015-2016: Stepping up Marketing/Business Development Program, Investing in Cohesive Firm Culture and Enhancing Current Practice Areas of the Firm.
    • Topics in which law firm leaders are most interested: Marketing/Business Development, Law Firm Profitability and Law Firm Innovation.
    There's lots more in this survey data and it's great information to share with your partners. We'll be providing our insights and recommendations on these and other subject areas in upcoming issues of MPF Weekly.

  • 2014 Managing Partner Social Media Survey – Part 2
    by Jaffe and Managing Partner Forum

    This summer, we partnered with Jaffe to conduct the most comprehensive survey about how smaller and mid-size law firms and their leaders are dealing with social media. Part 1 was released last month and it covered managing partners’ use of and attitudes about social media. Click here to take a look. Part 2 looks at what law firms are doing in terms of policy, training and other issues. One-hundred twenty-eight (128) firms participated, and you may be surprised at how few mid-size firms are on top of the situation. Here are a few highlights:

    • Thirty-eight percent (38%) of smaller and mid-size firms have a social media policy in place.
    • Forty-two percent (42%) provide social media training; Sixteen percent (16%) make it mandatory.
    • Fifty-nine percent (59%) have a firm LinkedIn page.
    • BigLaw is way ahead in this important and evolving area. Eighty-four percent (84%) have policies and eighty-one percent (81%) provide training.
    • Enhancing relationships with current clients and referral sources is perceived to be the primary benefit social media provides the firm.
    It’s dangerous to assume that your lawyers and staff will behave properly on the Internet. Is your firm on top of the situation? If not, it should be! For starters, click here to download Jaffe’s policy template.

  • 2014 Managing Partner Social Media Survey – Part 1
    by Jaffe and The Managing Partner Forum

    We’re pleased to send you part 1 (part 2 will be released later this month) of our first annual survey about how law firm leaders and their firms are dealing with social media. Part 1 presents our findings of managing partner attitudes and behaviors when it comes to social media, with a specific focus on LinkedIn. One-hundred nineteen (119) firm leaders participated and here are some of the highlights:

    • Thirty-nine percent (39%) say it’s “exciting” and they love it.
    • Thirty-six percent (36%) describe it as a “necessary evil.”
    • Younger firm leaders (<50 years old) are more enthusiastic than more senior firm leaders.
    • Eighty-six percent (86%) say they have a LinkedIn profile.
    • Thirty-seven percent (37%) access LinkedIn daily, while twenty-five percent (25%) go there weekly.
    • Eighty-nine percent (89%) on LinkedIn say they belong to at least one LinkedIn Group.
    Interesting reading, indeed, with more to follow. By the way, click here to join the MPF LinkedIn Group if you’re not already a member.

  • Goals, Measures, and Scorecards:
    Law Firms Fixated on Today's Billable Hours and Collections

    by John Sterling and John Remsen, Jr.

    In June 2014, we published the results and commentary for the Leadership Matters survey about goals, measures and scorecards. The classic “balanced scorecard” measures an individual's contributions to an organization in four critically important areas: financial contributions, client satisfaction, people development, and internal process and procedures. What do law firms measure? Fifty-six firm leaders participated in our survey and here are a few of the highlights:

    • Ninety-six percent (96%) say their firms do an “excellent” or “solid” job measuring financial contributions (i.e. billable hours, collections and origination)
    On the other hand…
    • Sixty-six  percent (66%) have “limited” or “no” measurements in the area of people development,
    • Sixty-three percent (63%) have “limited” or “no” measurements of internal process and procedures, and
    • Ninety-one percent (91%) have “limited” or “no” measurements of client satisfaction.
    What gets measured gets done. What gets measured improves. With all the attention on today’s billable hours and collections, it’s no wonder that investments in the firm’s future are so often overlooked or neglected.

  • A Slow-Motion Riot:
    The Use of Alternative Fee Arrangements Creeps Forward…Ever So Slowly

    by John Sterling and John Remsen, Jr.

    In April 2014, we surveyed managing partners on the topic of alternative fee arrangements. Fifty-two firm leaders participated and here are a few of the highlights:

    • 50% report less than 10% of firm revenue is derived through alternative fee arrangements
    • 56% say the use of alternative fees will continue to increase
    • Fixed fees are by far the #1 type of alternative fee arrangement

  • Strategic Planning Improves Firm Performance
    by John Sterling and John Remsen, Jr.

    In March 2014, we surveyed managing partners on the topic of strategic planning and implementation. One hundred-twenty firm leaders participated and told us that more firms are doing it (60%) and they’re having good results (80%).

    Of those firms with plans…

    •  93% gathered input from the firm’s partners
    •  52% gathered input from associates and staff
    •  29% gathered input from clients and referral sources
    •  51% engaged outside consultants
    Of those without plans…
     
    •  36% say they don’t have the time to create one
    •  36% say they can’t convince their partners of the need
    •  15% say they don’t need one
    In today’s dog-eat-dog marketplace, law firms need strategic plans. Leadership and accountability are critical to successful implementation. 

    This survey was also the feature article in June 2014 issue of ALA's Legal Management magazine.

  • Leadership Determines
    Practice Group Effectiveness

    by John Sterling and John Remsen, Jr.

    We’re pleased to feature the results of our second MPF Leadership Matters online survey. Last month, we asked firm leaders to share the responsibilities and roles of practice groups in their firms. Eighty-one managing partners, mostly from smaller and mid-size firms, participated. Among the highlights:

    • 51% of firm leaders say their practice groups are effective
    • Firms with the most effective practice groups expect more from the group leaders
    • 27% of firms have job descriptions for practice group leaders
    • 32% provide some type of training for their group leaders
    Importantly, we’ve included our recommendations at the end of the commentary.

  • Law Firm Compensation Systems and Partner Satisfaction  
    by John Sterling and John Remsen, Jr.

    In January 2014, we asked firm leaders to generally describe their firm’s compensation systems (i.e. formula vs. subjective, open vs. closed) and tell us how satisfied their partners are on balance with their firm’s system. 138 managing partners, mostly from mid-size firms, participated. Among the highlights:

    • The most common type of system? Subjective, informed by objective data.
    • The system with highest partner satisfaction? Purely objective, formula-based.
    • 75% of compensation systems are described as “fully open.” Less than 10% are “fully closed.”
    • Partners from the smallest firms are the least satisfied with their firm’s compensation system.
    Importantly, we’ve included our recommendations to firm leaders at the end of the commentary.

  • Overwhelming Majority of Mid-Size Firms
    Have Moved to Multi-Tiered Partnership Structures

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    At The MPF 2013 Leadership Conference, we asked 75 managing partners of mid-size law firms a series of questions about leadership and the business of law. We utilized audience participation technology to elicit instant, anonymous responses. 

    Among the questions, we asked about two-tiered partnership structures, something we’re seeing more and more in our work with smaller and mid-size firms. But, we were not fully aware of the magnitude of this fundamental change in law firm ownership. 

    More than 3/4 of managing partners – 77% to be exact – reported that their firms operate under a multi-tiered partnership structure, while another 16% are considering it. Just 7% said they intend to remain in a single-tiered structure. There are many reasons why it makes good business sense for most law firms.

  • Smaller and Mid-Size Law Firms Need
    Clearly Defined Criteria for Partnership  

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    At The MPF 2013 Leadership Conference, we deployed audience polling technology to ask 75 managing partners if their firms had clearly defined criteria for partnership set forth in writing. A whopping 43% said no. At MPF, we believe that ownership in a law firm should be dear and reserved for those lawyers who think and act like owners, not long-time employees. That means they bring clients, leadership, mentoring, and a “firm-first” mindset and attitude to the firm. We further believe that the criteria for partnership – both equity and non-equity, if yours is a two-tiered firm – should be clear, unambiguous and in writing. They should be specific, measurable and understood by all the lawyers at your firm...even your first-year associates.

  • Succeeding at Law Firm Leadership: 
    Seven Strategies to Implement Now

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    We all know that leading lawyers is hardly ever easy. They are highly skeptical. They don't like change. They hate risk. They love autonomy. And they have a high sense of urgency. In this month's MPF Perspective, we provide seven steps to help you become a more effective firm leader. Step #1? Develop a job description for you and others in leadership roles in the firm.

  • Your Firm Administrator: It's the Best Investment Your Firm Can Make
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Over the years, we've worked with hundreds of law firms and, at this stage of the game, it's pretty easy to tell whether or not the firm has a great firm administrator the minute I walk in the door. With a great administrator, the place looks good. The people are highly qualified and well-trained. The firm's systems and procedures run smoothly. And, almost always, the firm enjoys exceptional profitability. Does your firm have one?

  • Managing Partners and LinkedIn: Are We There Yet?
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    A recent survey by LexisNexis says that 62% of US lawyers now use social media for professional networking purposes, and the number continues to grow every day. Furthermore, LinkedIn has emerged as the place for professionals to meet and mingle. There are more than 1.5 million lawyers there. But have law firm managing partners joined the party?      

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