Managing Partners Forum

The group dynamics in the MPIE sessions are a great value. I liked Susan Hackett (General Counsel of the Association for Corporate Counsel) on Skype, too.

Clark R. Hammond, Esq.
Wallace Jordan Ratliff & Brandt - Birmingham, AL

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White Papers

  • 2017 Law Firms in Transition
    An Altman Weil Flash Survey  ** NEW **

    by Eric A. Seeger and Thomas S. Clay

    Now in its ninth year, Altman Weil’s annual survey continues to document the forces reshaping the landscape for legal services, and how the nation’s largest law firms are responding. 386 firms with 50 or more lawyers participated, including half of the country’s top law firms. The full survey report runs 124 pages and contains lots of charts and graphs. The more digestible Executive Summary runs just eight pages.

    Key Findings

    • Stagnant Demand for Legal Services. The reason to get closer than ever to your clients and ramp up your firm’s marketing program.
    • Oversupply of Lawyers. It’s a buyer’s market, and don’t think for a minute that sophisticated clients aren’t taking advantage of the situation, especially governments, banks and insurance companies.
    • Inefficient Service Delivery. Standardized processes and procedures will make your firm more efficient and profitable. But partners have to give up some autonomy for the good of the firm.
    • Proactive Approach. It can create a competitive advantage for your firm in areas like alternative fee arrangements. Don’t wait for clients to come to you.
    • Resistance to Change – It’s not so much firm leaders, it’s their partners who don’t feel a sense of urgency to evolve and adapt.
    MPF Recommendations to Firm Leaders
    • It’s Time to Lead. Enough with the managing and consensus building already.
    • Appoint the Right People to Leadership Positions. Not always the senior lawyers and lawyers with big books of business.
    • Address Chronic Underperformance. Your dynamos don’t want to be around (nor carry) dead weight.
    • Focus Attention on Practice Groups. We like industry-focused practice groups for a slew of reasons.
    • Get Closer than Ever to Clients. Never ever take the clients you want to keep for granted. Go visit. Learn about the company. Learn about its industry. Become a trusted advisor.
    • Educate your Partners. Most of them pay little attention to the “big picture” stuff. Make sure they know what’s going on, and why your firm must evolve and adapt to the changing marketplace.
    This is one of the best “state of the profession” reports out there, and we strongly encourage you to share it with your partners and senior staff.

    Click here (or above) to download the complete 124-page survey report.
    Click here to download the 8-page executive summary.
     

  • 2017 Report on the State of the Legal Market
    by Georgetown Law and Thomson Reuters

    The past decade has seen unprecedented change and disruption in the legal market. Sparked by the Great Recession of 2008, the pressure on today’s law firms is more intense than ever. As the market evolves over time, there will be winners and there will be losers. According to this year’s report, here are four important areas to which your law firm should pay close attention:

    • Unrelenting Focus on Profitability
    • Focus on Expanding Your Leverage Model
    • Clear Focus on Your Firm’s Core Practice Areas
    • New Focus on Supply Chain Management
    This is a great report to circulate to your partners and discuss what it means to your firm at an upcoming partnership meeting. As Charles Darwin observed in his theory of evolution, the species with the best chance of survival are not always the strongest and the smartest. They are the ones most adaptable to changes in the environment.

  • Generally Excellent 2016 Performance,
    Virtually Non-Existent Growth, and Some Clouds on the Horizon

    by Smock Law Firm Consultants

    As always, John Smock and his colleagues, have produced an accurate and insightful report on the legal services marketplace, mostly from the perspective of the mid-size law firm. This year, they conducted 35 interviews with managing partners and executive directors from law firms across the US. Here are some of its highlights:

    • 2016 Was a Great Year for Most Law Firms
    • Litigation is Flat and the Future Forecast is Not Good
    • Teams and Practice Groups are Where the Action Is
    • Firms are Getting Better at Addressing Difficult Issues, such as Underperforming Partners
    • Firm Management is Leaping Forward, with BigLaw Outpacing MidLaw
    Smock’s analysis and conclusions are consistent with what we presented in MPF Insight, the report we published in December. See below.

  • 2017 Client Advisory 
    by Hildebrandt Consulting and Citi Private Bank

    We’ve been including the annual Client Advisory by Hildebrandt/CitiBank as an MPF Featured White Paper for many years. Why? Because it’s a darn good report! Although focused primarily on BigLaw, the information presented in this 10-page report is timely and relevant for smaller and mid-size law firms, as well.  We recommend that you and our firm pay special attention to the last few pages that focus on how law firms will succeed in 2017 and beyond. Going forward, the most successful firms will adhere to a model that:

    • Focuses on Revenue Growth
    • Improves Profit Margins
    • Builds and Maintains Leverage
    • Promotes a High-Performance Culture
    • Compensates Performance
    • Exercises Deliberate Lateral Hiring
    • Plans for Transition and Succession
    • Govern Efficiently and Effectively
    We talk about these issues all the time at MPF programs and conferences. We hope that you and your partners talk about (and act on) them, too.

  • MPF INSIGHT
    Re-Envisioning the Law Firm:
    How to Lead Change and Thrive in the Future 

    by Managing Partner Forum, Jaffe, TheRemsenGroup

    This hard-hitting and ground-breaking report, which includes an abundance of benchmarking data drawn from two MPF surveys conducted earlier this year, serves as a wake-up call for leaders and owners of smaller and mid-size US law firms. We strongly maintain that to be successful in the future, law firms must be run more like a business and less like loose confederations of sole practitioners. For most firms, this involves change and accountability. And lawyers don’t like either. Leadership and planning are required. Here are some of our report’s major themes:

    • Firm owners must accept the fact the profession is undergoing unprecedented change and that your law firm must adapt if it wants to survive and prosper.
    • Strategic planning is no longer optional. Firms need a vision for the future and a plan to get where they want to go. “Hope and pray” is not a good strategy in a rapidly changing marketplace.
    • Firms must invest in the leadership and business development skills of their young lawyers. They are the future of your firm.
    • Importantly, law firms must proactively address issues involving problematic partners. They are affecting the culture and profitability of your firm much more than you realize.
    • The time has come for firm leaders to exercise “more leadership” and “less management.”
    You need to review this report. You need to share it with your partners. Importantly, your firm must respond to the changing marketplace. Otherwise, you may find yourselves selling buggy whips when the rest of the world has moved beyond them.

  • 2016 What's Hot and What's Not
    in the Legal Profession

    by Robert W. Denney

    For 28 years, Bob has published each December his observations and commentary about trends in the legal profession in an annual report he calls “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession.” As always, we’re delighted to feature Bob’s report, and here are a few of his observations for 2016:

    • Red Hot Practice Areas: Cyber-Security and Health Care, in the face of change to the Affordable Care Act
    • Hot Practice Areas: Energy, Environmental, Regulatory, Immigration, Cannabis
    • Mixed Bag: Commercial Litigation
    • Still Ice Cold: Bankruptcy
    Bob also writes about what’s going on with lateral hiring, artificial intelligence and alternative business structures. Always a good read!

  • Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States
    by ABA’s Commission on the Future of Legal Services

    Earlier this year, the ABA’s Commission on the Future of Legal Services issued its long-awaited report on the future of the legal profession. Its findings and recommendations should be of little surprise to those who read our newsletter and attended our conferences.

    • Many recent law school graduates are underemployed, or unemployed altogether.
    • The traditional law firm model (including the almighty billable hour) constrains innovation to enhance the delivery of legal services.
    • Lawyers' resistance to change further hinders innovation in the profession.
    • New providers of legal services (e.g. Avvo, Axiom, Legal Zoom and Rocket Lawyer) are proliferating and providing additional choices to both clients and lawyers.
    • Lawyers must learn more about entrepreneurship, innovation, law firm economics, and the business of law.
    • The ABA should establish a Center for Innovation.
    • The ABA should continue to explore the feasibility of Alternative Business Structures (ABSs), including non-lawyer ownership of law firms.
    We encourage you to take a look at the attached report and consider its implications for your firm. We’ll be discussing the fall-out of this report in future issues of The MPF Weekly.

  • Law Firms in Transition 2016
    An Altman Weil Special Report 

    by Thomas S. Clay and Eric Seeger

    Now in its eight year, Altman Weil’s annual survey continues to document the forces reshaping the landscape for legal services and how law firms are responding. 356 firms with 50 or more lawyers participated, including half of the country’s top law firms. The full survey report runs 132 pages and contains lots of charts and graphs. The more digestible Executive Summary runs just twelve pages.

    Key Findings

    • Stagnant Demand for Legal Services. The reason to get closer than ever to your clients and ramp up your firm’s marketing program.
    • Oversupply of lawyers. It’s a buyer’s market, and don’t think for a minute that sophisticated clients aren’t taking advantage of the situation, especially governments, banks and insurance companies.
    • Inefficient Service Delivery. Standardized processes and procedures will make your firm more efficient and profitable. But partners have to give up some autonomy for the good of the firm.
    • Proactive Approach. It can create a competitive advantage for your firm in areas like alternative fee arrangements. Don’t wait for clients to come to you.
    • Resistance to Change – It’s not so much firm leaders, it’s their partners who don’t feel a sense of urgency to evolve and adapt.
    Recommendations to Firm Leaders
    • It’s Time to Lead. Enough with the managing and consensus building already.
    • Appoint the Right People to Leadership Positions. Not always the senior lawyers and lawyers with big books of business.
    • Address Chronic Underperformance. Your dynamos don’t want to be around (nor carry) dead weight.
    • Focus Attention on Practice Groups. We like industry-focused practice groups for a slew of reasons.
    • Get Closer than Ever to Clients. Never ever take the clients you want to keep for granted. Go visit. Learn about the company. Learn about its industry. Become a trusted advisor.
    • Educate your Partners. Most of them pay little attention to the “big picture” stuff. Make sure they know what’s going on, and why your firm must evolve and adapt to the changing marketplace.
    This is one of the best “state of the profession” reports out there, and we strongly encourage you to share it with your partners and senior staff.

    Click here (or above) to download the complete 132-page survey report.
    Click here to download the 12-page executive summary.

  • The Race Belongs to the Swift and the Contest to the Strong:
    Legal Market Place Outlook for 2016 and Beyond

    by Smock Law Firm Consultants

    Each year, John Smock and his colleagues conduct an online survey, as well as series of interviews, with leaders of large and midsize law firms. Among other things, they ask about financial performance, hot practice areas and strategic initiatives. Seventy-four (74) firm leaders participated in the online survey and forty-three (43) participated in the interviews. Here are a few highlights:

    • Hot Practice Areas: Real Estate, Corporate and Health Care.
    • Cold Practice Areas: Bankruptcy, Commercial Litigation and Insurance Defense.
    • Rate Increases are Back: All (100%) firms reported that they raised rates in 2016 and that rate increases held 60% of the time.
    • Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs): Really taking off with 60% of firms reporting that 10-25 % of revenue is achieved through them.
    • Top Strategic Initiatives: Dealing with Underperforming Partners, Hiring Laterals with Books of Business, and Investments in Technology and Business Development.
    This is a solid, well-researched survey report that mirrors much of what we’ve been reading in other “state of the profession” reports published so far this year.

  • 2016 Report on the State of the Legal Market
    by Georgetown Law and Thomson Reuters’ Peer Monitor

    Every law firm leader should carefully read this report, digest it, and consider its implications for his/her law firm. Beyond that, firm leaders should distribute the report to partners and discuss what it means to the firm at an upcoming partnership meeting. Importantly, the firm must develop strategies and action plans to capitalize on the opportunities in the market. Although the overall demand for legal services remained flat in 2015 (as it has since 2008) there are exciting opportunities for firms willing to break the mold and try something different. Here are some the report’s highlights:

    • The overall demand for legal services remained flat in 2015. Real estate and corporate were up. Litigation, employment and bankruptcy were down.
    • Litigation represents 31% of the total market for services. Although litigation was down for BigLaw, midsize law firms reported slightly positive increase in this area.
    • Generally, law firms have been very slow to respond to the changing marketplace and, in those instances where firms are evolving, it’s usually driven by the client, not the firm.
    • BigLaw raised its standard hourly rates by 2.7% on average in 2015. Making the increase stick, however, is another story as client pushback has resulted in plummeting realization rates for many firms.
    • Marketing and technology budgets for most firms continued to grow at a 3-4 % rate in 2015, compared to 2014.
    • Midsize law firms outperformed Biglaw in Revenue per Lawyer (RPL) and Profits per Equity Partner (PPEP) growth, two very important metrics to asses a firm’s financial performance in 2015.

  • 2015 What’s Hot and What’s Not
    in the Legal Profession

    by Robert W. Denney

    For 27 years, Bob has published each December his observations and commentary about trends in the legal industry in an annual report he calls “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession.” As always, we’re delighted to feature it in The MPF Weekly and include it on our website. Here are just a few of his observations for 2015:

    • Red Hot Practice Areas: Cybersecurity and Regulatory, with DC as a Hot Market
    • Getting Warmer: Real Estate, although spotty
    • Cooling Down: Commercial Litigation and Intellectual Property
    • Ice Cold: Bankruptcy
    At the end of the article, Bob predicts law firms will do just fine in the wake of unprecedented change in the profession if and only if they “do what they have to do, when they have to do it, whether they want to do it or not.”

  • STRATEGIC PLANNING: KEY TO SMART GROWTH
    2015 Survey of Smaller & Mid-Size US Law Firms

    by Managing Partner Forum and Thomson Reuters 

    Earlier this year, we partnered with Thomson Reuters to conduct the largest and most comprehensive survey on the state of smaller and mid-size US law firms. One hundred and forty five managing partners and firm leaders participated, representing firms with 10 to 174 lawyers. This ground-breaking White Paper highlights many of our survey findings, including:

    • Ninety percent (90%) of firms met or exceeded their profitability goals in 2014. 2015 is looking even better for most firms.
    • The top three strategies to improve financial performance are: 1) Strategically growing profitable practice areas; 2) Providing value to win new business; and 3) Becoming more efficient in the delivery of services.
    • Seventy percent (70%) of firm leaders are “very confident” or “extremely confident” in their firm’s long-term success.
    • The larger the firm, the more likely it has a firm-wide strategic plan. Among firms with fewer than thirty (30) lawyers, sixteen percent (16%) report having a strategic plan, compared to sixty-three (63%) of firms in the 80-174 lawyer range.
    • Marketing and business development is the #1 strategic priority for seventy-five (75%) of firms in the survey.

  • Law Firms in Transition 2015
    An Altman Weil Flash Survey

    by Thomas S. Clay and Eric Seeger

    Last week, our friends at Altman Weil published and distributed Law Firms in Transition 2015, its annual survey of law firm leaders of US firms with 50 or more lawyers. Three-hundred twenty (320) firms, including nearly half of the country’s largest 350 law firms, participated. The report concludes with a section called “The Obligations of Leadership.” We found no real surprises in this year’s survey, and here are a few of the more interesting highlights:

    • Two-thirds of survey participants report an increase total firm revenue, revenue per lawyer (RPL) and profits per equity partner (PPEP) over the previous year.
    • Firms that give a high level of power and authority to their leaders financially outperform firms that do not.
    • Overcapacity, especially in the non-equity partner ranks, places a significant drag on firm financial performance for many firms.
    • Only thirty-one percent (31%) of firm leaders say their firms have a formal succession plan in place.
    • Partner resistance to change is a persistent threat to long-term firm performance and sustainability for many firms.
    We’ve included both the nine-page Executive Summary, as well the entire 108-page report that includes lots of charts and graphs.

    Click here (or above) to download the complete 108-page survey report.
    Click here to download the 13-page executive summary.

  • International Review - Spring 2015
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    This issue of Internatinal Review, published by Patrick McKenna, runs 24 pages and features five great articles every firm leader should read. They include numerous practical ideas, tips and techniques that will make you a more effective firm leader and that you can put to use immediately. The articles in this issue are:

    • Recovering from a Leadership Misstep
    • The Leadership Succession Process
    • Stimulating Innovation in Your Firm
    • Inquiring Leaders Want to Know: Ten Important Questions
    • When Job Descriptions Don’t Do the Job
    We especially recommend the fourth article and its ten important questions.

  • 2015 Legal Marketplace Outlook:
    Some Very Good Results, But Still Too Much Focus on the Short Term

    by Smock Law Firm Consultants

    2014 was a strong year for most law firms and firm leaders predict 2015 to be even better, according to Smock’s annual survey. Ninety-nine (99) firm leaders participated in this survey conducted in January 2015. Most firms had between 100 and 300 lawyers. The report runs 11 pages, including numerous charts and graphs. Among the highlights:

    • 2014 was the best year financially for most law firms since 2007, with seventy-five percent (75%) reporting “good” or “extremely good” results.
    • Firm leaders are even more bullish about 2015, with eighty-two percent (82%) projecting strong financial results for the year ahead.
    • Ninety-nine percent (99%) of firm leaders said their firms raised rates in 2014, with rate increases holding sixty-three percent (63%) of the time.
    • The hottest practice areas in 2014-15 include intellectual property, health care, corporate and real estate. Antitrust and bankruptcy are at the bottom of the list.
    • Dealing with underperforming, more effective practice group planning and leadership, and industry- focused marketing are among the top strategic/operational priorities in 2014-15.
    This is good stuff to share with your lawyers and administrative staff and we recommend that you do.

  • 2015 Report on the State of the Legal Market 
    by Georgetown Law and Peer Monitor

    Every January, the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at the Georgetown University Law Center and Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor join forces to publish an annual report analyzing the legal industry. This year’s report says that, although there has been dramatic and fundamental change in the market for legal services, law firms have been astonishingly slow to react. Even so, most law firms saw modest improvement in financial performance in 2014 compared to the year before. Here are a few highlights:

    • Overall demand growth for legal services has been flat since the onset of the Great Recession.
    • In 2014, transactional activity picked up significantly, while litigation remained weak.
    • Litigation now accounts for about thirty-six percent (36%) of services provided by law firms in private practice, down from forty percent (40%) just twenty years ago.   
    • Collected realization rates , now at eighty-three percent (83%), continue to slide for most firms.
    • Many corporate clients are shifting work to in-house legal departments  and turning to non-traditional providers of legal services.
    We encourage you to distribute this report to and discuss its findings among your partners. How will the changing marketplace affect your firm over the next five to ten years? And what, if anything, are you doing about it?

  • Strategic Planning: It’s Not Just for “BigLaw” Anymore
    by John Remsen, Jr. and John Sterling

    We surveyed law firm leaders earlier this year about strategic planning and implementation.  120 managing partners, mostly from mid-sized law firms, participated. As this White Paper reveals, more and more small and mid-sized law firms are getting into strategic planning and they report good results. Consider these findings:

    • Fifty-nine percent (59%) of firm leaders say they have a firm-wide strategic plan.
    • Just nine percent (9%) say they’ve done “very well” on implementation. Forty-three percent (43%) say they’ve done “pretty well.”
    • Even then, seventy-seven percent (77%) say the plan’s impact on firm performance is “very successful” or “somewhat successful.”
    Imagine the positive impact on performance if law firms did a better job on the implementation side of the planning process!  In addition to fresh data on the topic, we share the keys to success.

  • 2014 What's Hot and What's Not in the Legal Profession
    by Robert W. Denney

    For 26 years and like clockwork, Bob Denney has once again published his much anticipated “What Hot’s and What’s Not” report in early December. Bob is a veteran in law firm marketing and business development and wrote How to Market Legal Services, the first book ever published on the topic, in 1984. He is a long-standing member of the College of Law Practice Management and serves on the MPF Faculty. Here are few of Bob’s observations for 2014:

    • Client Interviews:  More firms are using them to obtain feedback and cement relationships.
    • Cyber Security: It’s fast becoming the #1 concern for an increasing number of law firms.
    • Smaller and Mid-Size Firms: They’re getting important matters that used to go the big firms.
    • Succession Planning: Firms recognize the importance but find implementation to be a challenge.
    • Psychological Profiles: More firms are using them to identify and appoint effective firm leaders.
    As Bob Dylan says, “The times, they are a-changing!” Is your law firm keeping pace?

  • 2014 Legal Market Reports - Chicago, New York, Cleveland and Atlanta
    by Smock Law Firm Consultants

    Over the course of the year, Smock Law Firm Consultants has published and distributed a series of reports on four major US legal markets. The markets they cover are Chicago, New York, Cleveland and Atlanta. To develop these reports, John and his colleagues conducted numerous interviews with managing partners and firm administrators to learn about current trends and happenings, and hear their predictions for the future. The consultants also provide their analysis and commentary, as well. Here are a few highlights:

    •  2014 has been a strong year for most mid-size law firms. 2015 looks promising, as well.
    •  Profitability, industry-focused marketing and client service are major areas of focus for many mid-size firms.
    •  Most mergers, acquisitions and lateral hires – 75% says Smock – are not successful, often due to lack of due diligence and failure to fully integrate the combined entity.
    •  Improved planning and project management are  more important than ever for mid-size firms.
    •  In many firms, young lawyers are not “stepping up” to assume important leadership and ownership roles.
    These reports contain some great insights and recommendations, even if your firm has no presence in these four markets.

    Click here for Chicago Legal Market Report.
    Click here for New York Legal Market Report.
    Click here for Cleveland Legal Market Report.
    Click here for Atlanta Legal Market Report.

  • 2014 Law Firms in Transition
    by Thomas S. Clay and Eric A. Seeger

    Change surrounds the legal industry, yet most law firms operate like it’s business as usual. If the survey findings in this report don’t grab your attention, I’m not sure what will. Three hundred and four (304) managing partners (most from BigLaw) participated. Based on its findings, here are a few recommendations we offer smaller and mid-size firms:

    • Educate Your Partners about the reality of the marketplace for legal services
    • Develop and implement a Firm-wide Strategic Plan
    • Get Closer than Ever to Clients your firm wants to keep
    • Raise the Bar to become and remain an Equity Partner
    • Establish a Futures Committee at your law firm
    Now is the time for managing partners to lead change to ensure a bright and prosperous futures for their firms.

  • International Review - Fall 2014
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    For several years now, Patrick has been kind enough to share his bi-annual collection of articles with our readers. It invariably includes some of the best, most thoughtful articles on law firm leadership and the role of the managing partners. This issue includes five articles, and the one I liked best is entitled “When Firm Leaders Transition.” His advice for the incoming leader includes:

    • Insist on a detailed job description,
    • Create a “things-to-stop doing” list,
    • Hit the ground listening, and
    • Focus on just a handful of priorities.
    He also dispenses guidance to the outgoing leader to effect a smooth, easy transition when law firms change leaders.

  • International Review - Spring 2014
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    Twice a year, Patrick publishes his International Review, a collection of articles on law firm leadership and management. It’s geared mostly toward those who lead larger firms, but its teachings apply to managing partners of law firms of all types and sizes. The Spring 2014 edition includes articles on the following topics:

    •  The Seeds of Competitive Disruption
    •  Firm Leadership Is Not for Wimps!
    •  Six Factors that Impede Effective Firm Leader-COO Relationships
    •  A Novel Approach to Compensation
    •  Are You Getting the Minutes from Practice Group Meetings?
    You’ll notice that we feature a number of Patrick’s articles on the MPF Website. It’s good stuff.

  • 2014 Client Advisory
    by Hildebrandt Consulting LLC and Citi Private Bank

    Every year, we look forward to this report focused on the country’s largest law firms. It, along with the Georgetown/Peer Monitor “Report on the State of the Legal Market,” is something every law firm leader should read, digest and discuss among his/her partners. You’ll find that the Citi/Hildebrandt report is much more optimistic than the Georgetown/Peer Monitor report, especially for the AmLaw 50 firms. It cites the recovering global economy and improving confidence levels among leaders of the world’s largest law firms as reasons for its upbeat forecast. And here are three things it says leading firms are doing to stay ahead of the curve:

    • Strategic Growth, including performance standards for partners, deliberate lateral hires and client-driven mergers.
    • Improved Efficiency, including alternative fee arrangements, more diligent project management and technology.
    • Capable Leadership, including attending programs like The MPF Leadership Conference.

  • Guide to Develop Individual Attorney Marketing Plan
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    There are two kinds of lawyers in private practice: Lawyers with clients and lawyers who work for lawyers with clients. That said, we believe that every lawyer in private practice should want to take the time to develop and implement an individual marketing plan. The reasons are many:

    • Clients hire lawyers, not law firms.
    • Clients hire and refer lawyers they know, like and trust.
    • Lawyers with clients better control their futures.
    • Lawyers with clients make more money and have more clout.
    We recommend that partners invest about 200 hours a year in marketing and business development. Associates should invest about 100 hours a year. Studies show that most successful rainmakers invest much more. To make sure that time is invested wisely, a plan is essential.
     

  • 2014 Report on the State of the Legal Market
    by Georgetown Law and Peer Monitor

    This 15-page White Paper draws on several other reports and surveys to present its findings and conclusions about today’s marketplace for legal services, and every firm leader should take the time to read and study it. We encourage you to take a step further and share its highlights with your partners. In it, you’ll read about market conditions - flat demand, more competition, improve efficiency, more commoditized work, non-traditional service providers - that should deeply concern law firm owners. But you’ll also read about opportunities for those firms with leadership and a willingness to innovate. Another good sign for mid-size firms: It cites evidence that in-house counsel is sending more "important" matters to smaller and mid-size firms than they were three years ago. Finally, it suggests that growth should be the outcome of well-executed, proactive, client-driven strategy, not be the strategy itself.

  • The Diamond Law Firm:
    A New Model or the Pyramid Unraveling?

    by William Henderson and Evan Parker-Stephen

    Back in the go-go days of the 80s and 90s, law firms built pyramids and it was all about leverage to ramp up firm profitability. Back then, it was a seller’s market. There was plenty of work. Partners brought it in and fed it to a growing legion of highly profitable associates.

    But times have changed, and US law firms are now facing the stark realities of a buyer’s market. As a consequence, many firms now find themselves with a “diamond” structure characterized by a small number of junior associates at the bottom and a growing number of non-equity partners, of counsel and staff attorneys in the middle. But is such a model sustainable over the long term? This paper says no.

  • What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession
    by Robert W. Denney

    Bob Denney wrote one of the first books on law firm marketing and currently serves on the MPF Faculty. For 25 years, he’s published “What’s Hot and What’s Not,” his much anticipated annual report presenting his observations on what’s going on in the legal profession. At just four pages, it’s short and gets right to the point. Among its highlights:

    •  Red Hot Practice Areas? Energy, Regulatory and Health Care
    •  Law Firms Are Shifting Resources from Marketing to Business Development
    •  Law Firm Mergers Are Abundant, But Nearly Half Fail Over Time
    •  GCs Are Giving More Big-Ticket Work to Smaller and Mid-Size Law Firms
    •  Smaller and Mid-Size Firms Are Paying More Attention to Succession Planning
    •  The General Outlook for the Legal Profession Looks Pretty Good
    We recommend that you read this White Paper and circulate it among your partners. Then, at your next partnership meeting, ask your partners a few questions? Are we, as a firm, in a good place? Are we keeping up with client demands and our competitors? Do we have a realistic plan to adapt to the changing times? Are we grooming capable and committed firm leaders for the future?

  • 2012 PCPS Succession Survey: Gearing Up to Wind Down 
    by American Institute of CPAs and Succession Institute, LLC

    In recent years, we’ve been helping quite a few firms with succession planning issues on the consulting side of our business. Consequently, we’ve done extensive research on the topic and this is by far the best White Paper we’ve read on succession planning for professional services firms. Although geared toward CPA firms (which I believe are paying more attention to succession than law firms), it discusses the same issues to which law firms should be paying diligent attention, including:

    •  Retirement funding,
    •  Firm infrastructure,
    •  Mandatory retirement,
    •  Transitioning clients,
    •  Compensation considerations, and  
    •  Grooming future leaders.
    Nearly 1,000 CPAs from 500 multi-owner firms participated.

  • We've Gotta Run This Place Like A Business:
    A Primer on What Many Law Firm Managers Say They Must Do, But Often Do Not

    by Smock Law Firm Consultants

    Collectively, MPF Faculty member John Smock and his colleagues have more than 150 years’ experience working with professional services firms. They draw on this experience to regularly publish thoughtful articles on law firm leadership and planning. This one sets forth a strong approach to whip your firm into shape, including planning, governance, compensation and dealing with partners who aren’t pulling their weight.

  • International Review - Fall 2013
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    Twice a year, Patrick publishes a great set of articles in a magazine he calls International Review, and he distributes a hard copy to selected leaders of the very largest law firms. He also provides us an electronic version to include on the MPF Website and pass along to our readers. Of particular interest in this edition are the articles entitled “Are You Developing a Star Culture?” and “The Hurdles to Initiating Change.”

  • 2013 Law Firms in Transition 
    by Thomas S. Clay, Altman Weil

    If you want to know how “BigLaw” is grappling with changes affecting the legal industry, this is the survey for you! This year’s edition of Altman Weil’s Law Firms in Transition Survey packs plenty of great bench-marking data, with leaders from 238 law firms with 50+ lawyers participating, including 37% of the NLJ 250 firms and 34% of the AmLaw 200 firms.

    The report runs 106 pages, beginning with ten pages of executive summary, followed by plenty of charts and breakdown of survey results.

    Among the findings:

    • 92% have two-tiered partnership structures
    • 82% hire part-time lawyers
    • 89% are pursuing lateral hires at partner level
    • 27% have a formal succession strategy in place
    • 61% report that AFAs generate less than 10% of total fees
    • 47% say that morale is higher among partners vs. 2008
    We strongly recommend that you take a look if you have not already seen it.

  • International Review - Spring 2013 
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    Twice a year, Patrick McKenna distributes International Review, a magazine for law firm leaders. Although most of his work focuses on Am Law 100 firms, much of what he writes is also timely and relevant to leaders of smaller and midsize law firms. His spring 2013 does not disappoint and includes four articles. Perhaps the most interesting of the bunch is one entitled "Malignant Leadership," which was also published in American Lawyer earlier this year.

  • 2013 Report on the State of the Legal Market
    by Georgetown Law and Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor

    This solid and well-researched report concludes that the practice of law has forever changed and will be starkly different in the future, as compared to what things were like before the Great Recession. It says further that it's time for law firm leaders to "burn the ships" to force themselves to look at new ways to deliver services and run their firms. Globalization, the oversupply of lawyers, more demanding clients, technology, and relentless competition are causing law firms to rethink the traditional partnership model. Furthermore, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that the AmLaw 200 firms are way ahead of smaller and mid-size firms in adapting to these fundamental changes in the marketplace. And they're pulling away.

  • Legal Marketplace
    Outlook for 2013 and Beyond  

    by Smock Law Firm Consultants

    For the past few years, MPF Faculty Member John Smock and his partners at Smock Law Firm Consultants have conducted an annual survey of the US legal marketplace. And, according to the 162 law firms that participated, the outlook for 2013 looks pretty good. In fact, most firms reported solid results in 2012 (especially in the second half of the year) and are “cautiously optimistic” in 2013. Hot practice areas include health care, intellectual property and energy. Furthermore, firm leaders report that they are working to address underperforming partners and are putting more effective marketing and business development programs in place to improve long-term performance and profitability.

  • What's Hot and What's Not in the Legal Profession
    by Robert W. Denney

    For 24 years, MPF faculty member Bob Denney has published his annual "What's Hot and What's Not" report on the legal industry. Basically, it's a compilation of data and information he accumulates throughout the year from a variety of sources including law firm leaders across the US and in other parts or the world. The "hottest" practice areas according to Bob? Energy, health care and sports law. Read more in Bob's 2012 year-end report.

  • International Review - Fall 2012 
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    Twice a year, Patrick publishes and distributes International Review, a magazine featuring insightful articles on law firm leadership. This issue examines compensation systems, retirement plans for senior lawyers and several other thought-provoking ideas and concepts. There's some good stuff here, and much of it is worth circulating to your partners.

  • International Review - Spring 2012 
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    Twice a year, Patrick publishes a collection of articles written by him and others on law firm leadership. He calls it International Review. One of the articles we especially like in the current issue is entitled "Confronting the Underperforming Partner: A Persistently Unmet Challenge." This topic is much discussed MPF conferences, as well.

  • International Review - Fall 2011
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    Twice a year, MPF faculty member Patrick McKenna publishes and distibutes his magazine called International Review to leaders of firms with 50 or more lawyers in the US and Canada. He is kind enough to make it available to our readers, as well, in PDF format. This issue includes articles about strategic planning, leading change and handling difficult partners.

  • 2011 Law Firms in Transition
    An Altman Weil Flash Survey

    by Thomas S. Clay and Eric A. Seeger

    This year's AW Flash Survey of leaders from firms with 50+ lawyers surprises me in its optimism. And it's back to business as usual when it comes to annual rate increases at the country's largest law firms. Among the survey findings:  

    • 95% of firms increased hourly rates in 2011, by an average of 4%.
    • 95% of firms offer alternative fee arrangements (AFAs), and most say it's less profitable than work billed on an hourly basis.
    • 68% of firm leaders believe that fewer equity partners are a permanent structural change in the legal profession.
    • 60% of firm leaders say that lateral hires do not meet expectations. 
    • 60% of firm leaders believe that contract lawyers are on the rise and a permanent trend.
    The survey was released in late May and, if you have not already done so, we recommend that you circulate it to your partners with your take on things and what it means for your firm.
    Click here (or above) to download the complete 42-page survey report.
    Click here to download the 10-page executive summary.   

  • International Review - Spring 2011
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    Twice a year, McKenna Associates publishes a magazine called International Review. Each issue strives to contain a "balanced blend of contributions covering the subjects of law firm strategy, economics and leadership," and this issue includes articles by David Maister, Patrick McKenna and others. 

    It is distributed in hard copy format to firm leaders of US and Canadian firms with more than 50 lawyers. Going forward, we're pleased to make a PDF version of the magazine available to our readers, as well.

  • What's Hot and What's Not in the Legal Profession 
    by Robert W. Denney

    Every December, Bob Denney presents his annual report entitled "What's Hot and What's Not in the Legal Profession." This is the 22nd year he has compiled his observations and shared them with clients and friends. In this year's edition, Bob reports that law firms are adopting formal social media policies and, after a one or two-year hiatus, are getting back to holding their annual Firm Retreats.

  • 2010 Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey 
    by Altman Weil, Inc.

    Here's yet another report suggesting that alternative fee arrangements are here to stay, with BigLaw leading the way. According to the survey of mostly larger law firms, 95% say they use some form of alternative fee arrangements. Yet, the percentage of total revenue generated through non-hourly based billing remains quite low.

  • The MPF 2010 Annual Conference
    A Summary of Discussion Points and Findings 

    by Charles F. Huxsaw and John Remsen, Jr.

    Over 90 managing partners, firm leaders and top consultants to the legal industry participated in The MPF 2010 Annual Conference on April 29th in Atlanta, Georgia. This comprehensive White Paper summarizes the key findings revealed through the use of state-of-the-art Audience Participation Technology. It focuses on how law firms approach strategic planning and the role of the managing partner; including what they do, how much time they spend in the role and how they get paid for all that non-billable effort. This is really good stuff.

  • Fulbright's 6th Annual Litigation Trends Survey Report 
    by Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP

    Good news for litigators! This year's trends survey, conducted by Fulbright & Jaworski, reports that litigation is up in most every area of law due in large part to the sour global economy. Contracts, bankruptcy, employment and personal injury lead the way. Electronic discovery is another hot, rapidly growing area of law. The 64-page survey report, which includes over 400 US and UK respondents, also cites an increase in the use of alternative fee arrangements for litigation matters.  

  • LexisNexis
    State of the Legal Industry Survey Report 

    by LexisNexis

    This 48-page report reveals deep divisions in how law firm leaders and in-house counsel perceive the future of the legal profession. Most corporate counsel insist that there will be fundamental changes in the way law firms operate, and that they have changed far too little in the wake of the economic downturn. Many law firm leaders disagree. On top of that, 65% of law students feel unprepared to enter the profession. 300 firm leaders, 150 in-house counsel and 100 law students participated in the survey which was conducted in late 2009.

  • Legal Marketplace in Late 2009
    by Smock-Sterling Strategic Management Consultants

    As we approach year-end 2009, our friends at Smock-Sterling report good news to law firm leaders. They surveyed over 100 midsize firms, asking 26 important questions about the present and future legal marketplace. While many firms and practice areas have taken big hits during the economic downturn, most have not; and the law firm business model has proven itself to be remarkably resilient, especially for midsize firms.

  • What's Hot and What's Not in the Legal Profession - July 2009 Update
    by Robert W. Denney

    For 20 years, Bob Denney has delivered each December his annual “What’s Hot and What’s Not” manifesto. It’s accurate, concise and has great insight. In more recent years, Bob publishes a mid-year update and we’re pleased to feature his July 2009 update.

  • Law Firms in Transition
    by Altman Weil

    Our friends at Altman Weil recently released this survey which reveals how larger law firms are adjusting to the economic downturn. It asked firms to identify both temporary and longer term changes they have made in a number of key areas.