Managing Partners Forum

MPF is a great conference, with excellent interaction among peers.   

Ann H. Zucker, Esq.
Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP - Stamford, CT

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  • The Benefits and Challenges 
    of Implementing a Firm-wide Strategic Plan

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    A 30-minute podcast with John Remsen, Jr. for Legal Talk Network

    How do attorneys create a strategic business plan for their firm and what are the best ways to implement that plan? In this 30-minute podcast, Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway talk with John Remsen, Jr. about the benefits of creating a firm-wide business plan. It’s critically important that firm leadership recognize that they’re running a business, and that it’s difficult to run a successful business without a plan of where it’s going. Among the highlights:

    • Less than half (40% to be precise) of midsize firms report that they have a written firm-wide strategic plan
    • Of firms with a plan, only 5% grade themselves an “A” for implementation
    • Even so, 90% of firms with a plan attribute improved performance and profitability to the plan
    • The top strategic priorities for mid-size firms in 2016 include marketing and business development; succession planning; firm-first culture; leadership and governance; associate training and development; and dealing with problematic partners
    The podcast concludes with some practical advice to help firm leaders start the strategic planning process.
     

  • Passing the Torch:
    Preparing Your Firm for the Future through Proactive Succession Planning

    by A Web Seminar by John Remsen, Jr.

    The Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) has been kind enough to allow us to share the recording of a 60-minute Web seminar we presented for its Cyber Chapter on January 19, 2016.

    It’s a sad fact that 70% of first generation law firms do not survive their founding partners. The primary reason? No proactive, orderly succession plan. According to our research, succession planning is the most neglected area of law firm management.

    Senior lawyers often won’t let go and, in many cases, junior lawyers are ill-equipped to assume the responsibilities of firm leadership and management. This 60-minute Web seminar shares our insights into how best to plan for the future, including the departures of valued lawyers and other professionals.

  • Senior Partner Transition Plan
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Succession planning is a hot issue for many smaller and mid-size law firms – both working with senior lawyers to transition their practices as they move toward retirement and grooming the firm’s future leaders for success. To assist with the former, check out our Senior Lawyer Transition Plan. It looks our five years and includes transitioning client relationships and passing on experience and know-how to younger lawyers.

  • Twelve Steps to Set Up
    Industry Practice Groups at Your Law Firm 

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Stop trying to market your firm’s areas of law! Rather, we recommend that you market your firm’s services through industry practice groups. The reasons are many. They clearly identify target audiences; they promote teamwork and cross-selling. Clients are looking for industry expertise. This five page article tells you how to set them up at your firm.

  • Midsize Market 2015 Legal Industry Update
    by Charlotte Rushton, Managing Director of Thomson Reuters

    This 18-minute podcast analyzes the marketplace for legal services for mid-size law firms in 2015 and the news is pretty darn good. It explores key performance measures and their impact on demand, growth and profitability of midsize law firms in the US. Among the highlights:

    • Key Performance Measures Look Good for MidLaw in 2015
    • Growing Practice Areas: Real Estate and Corporate
    • Flat Practice Areas: Labor/Employment and Litigation
    • Declining Practice Areas: Tax and Bankruptcy
    Citing the research we conducted in partnership with Thomson Reuters earlier this year, it concludes that strategic investments niche practice areas, technology and marketing are really starting to pay off for midsize law firms.  

  • Partner Compensation:
    Keys to Compensating Succession and Client Transition  

    by Andrew Jillson and John Remsen, Jr.

    Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of presenting a 90-minute web seminar for the Center for Competitive Management with Andy Jillson, co-founder of Hayse LLP in Dallas. We’re pleased to feature our handout materials for the session. Among the issues we discussed:

    • The Importance of Succession Planning in Law Firms
    • Why Lawyers and Law Firms Avoid It
    • How and When to Suggest It’s Time to Go
    • Fair and Successful Compensation Agreements
    • The Ugly Downside of Origination Credit for Life
    • Is Yours a Mercenary or Legacy Law Firm?

  • HANDOUT MATERIALS
    Characteristics of Today’s Most Successful Law Firms

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Not long ago, two of the country’s leading law firm consultancies conducted ground-breaking research to identify what highly profitable and fast-growing mid-size firms do that make them so successful. They identified forty mid-size US firms that were significantly out-performing similar firms. They conducted a series of interviews with the leaders and administrators of those firms. Through these in-depth interviews, they identified twelve characteristics that directly contribute to these firms' success. Using audience polling technology, The Managing Partner Forum then asked 180 managing partners who attended recent MPF Leadership Conferences to grade their firms' performances in these twelve critical areas.

  • AUDIENCE POLLING RESULTS
    Sit on the Sidelines or Get in the Game: Strategic Planning

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    We’re pleased to share a second set of audience polling results we collected at the ALA (Association of Legal Administrators) Annual Conference in Toronto on May 21, 2014. This session drilled down on strategic planning, including making the case, setting up the process, the ingredients of a good plan and keys to successful implementation.

    The bench-marking data in this slide deck is especially relevant to leaders of smaller and mid-size firms as 60% of participating firms had fewer than 50 lawyers. An estimated 225 law firm administrators attended the 60-minute session.

    Among the highlights:

    • Eighty-four percent (84%) of firm administrators believe a firm-wide strategic plan is an absolute necessity to run a successful law firm in today’s environment.
    • Yet, only forty-one percent (41%) reported that their firms have a firm-wide strategic plan. Twenty-nine percent (29%) said their firms were working on one.
    • On implementation, seventy percent (70%) graded their firms a “C” or below. Why the struggle? Too many ill-defined goals, often coupled with a lack of leadership and little accountability.
    • Among firms without a plan, the top three reasons were: 1) Firm leaders don’t see the need. 2) Leaders see the need, but can’t convince the others. 3) We’re too busy.
    In today’s highly competitive and rapidly changing market, law firms must develop and implement firm-wide strategic plans if they want to thrive, prosper and get where they want to go. Absent a plan, any path will take you there.

  • AUDIENCE POLLING RESULTS
    Bringing Sustained Excellence into the Business of Law

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    We presented a 90-minute session at the ALA (Association of Legal Administrators) Annual Conference in Toronto on May 20th with about 200 law firm administrators in attendance. As part of the session, we used audience polling technology to survey participants on a myriad of issues relating to the business side of running their law firms. Firms ranged in size from 10-1,000 lawyers, with most in the 25- to 150-lawyer range. Among the highlights:

    • Firm administrators, generally, said their firms provide great client service, yet 61% never bother to ask for client feedback. In fact, fewer than 20% said they solicit client feedback on a regular basis.
    • Forty-one percent said their firms had a firm-wide strategic plan, with another 27% working on one. Of those with a plan, most gave their firms poor marks on successful implementation. Planning without implementation is a colossal waste of time, effort and energy.
    • When it comes to dealing with difficult issues, not one firm administrator gave his/her firm a “10.” Most gave their firms poor grades in this very important area.
    • Sixty-three percent said their firms had two-tiered partnership structures, with another 10% putting one in place.
    There’s some great bench-marking data here that you and your partners need to know. We suggest that you use it to inform (and perhaps persuade) the skeptics and nay-sayers at your firm about the importance of running the place more like a business…with goals, a plan, team-work and accountability.
           

  • ALA PODCAST:
    Strategic Planning in Law Firms:
    From Consensus to Nuts & Bolts Implementation

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    We believe that every law firm, regardless of size and practice mix, should have a firm-wide strategic plan. The plan should set forth where the firm will be in five years and the initiatives it will implement to get there. For successful implementation, the plan should be short, realistic and achievable. Strong and effective leadership is also required. This brief interview was conducted on March 31, 2014 and includes discussion about:

    • Why your firm needs a plan to remain viable and competitive,
    • Why change is required to maintain and improve profitability and productivity,
    • How to get the strategic planning process underway at your firm,
    • The keys to successful implementation,
    • How planning improves the firm’s bottom line,
    • Recommendations for solos and smaller firms, and
    • The characteristics of a good law firm strategic plan.
    This recorded session will be invaluable to you if your firm is considering strategic planning for the first time, or if you’ve been struggling with implementation. We encourage you to share it with your partners and/or your management/executive committee and discuss at one its upcoming meetings.
     

  • US Legal Industry Facts and Figures
    by American Lawyer Media

    This nifty document includes key facts and figures about the country’s legal industry. You probably know many of them already, while others will add to your knowlegde base. Why not rattle off a few of this stats at your next partner's meeting? They’ll be impressed. 

    Here's a sampling:

    • There are 1.25 million lawyers in the US as of 2011 according to the American Bar Association.
    • Of those practicing law, 74% are in private practice. 16% are in-house.
    • Approximately 25% of practicing lawyers work at the nation’s 350 largest law firms.
    • Baker & McKenzie is the country’s largest firm with 3,805 lawyers according to The National Law Journal. DLA Piper (3,746 lawyers) is a close #2. Jones Day (2,407 lawyers) is a distant #3.
    • The highest compensation per partner? Wachtell at $4.5 million/year according to The American Lawyer.
    • Most important US Supreme Court decisions? Marbury v Madison (1803), Miranda v Arizona (1966), Roe v Wade (1973), and others.

       

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.