Managing Partners Forum

From my perspective, the conference went extremely well. Thank you for inviting me to participate; I was proud to be part of a very talented faculty. Congratulations to all!

Donald L. Mrozek, Esq.
Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP - Chicago, Illinois


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  • Young Partners Need to Embrace an Ownership Mentality
    by Sharon Abrahams, Legal Talent Advisors

    Our MPF Featured Article is “Young Lawyers Need to Embrace an Ownership Mentality” written by MPF faculty member Dr. Sharon Abrahams for National Law Journal. Here are a few highlights of Sharon’s article:

    • Expose young lawyers to the business side of law early in their careers.
    • Be transparent. Share as much information as possible with young lawyers. Knowledge is power and creates engagement.
    • Involve associates directly in client relationships early on to encourage a sense of ownership.
    • Encourage personal business plans for young lawyers, especially income partners and senior associates.
    In the article, Sharon includes insights from numerous firm leaders who regularly participate in MPF programs. As always, Sharon writes great advice and her guidance is spot on!

  • Four Lessons from the Alex Murdaugh Trial and Conviction
    by Tea Hoffmann, Law Strategy Corp.

    The first is a great article called by Tea Hoffmann, a long-time friend and supporter of The Managing Partner Forum. Tea runs Law Strategy Corp., and her four lessons are: 

    • Be Aware of the Lone Wolf
    • If You See Something, Say Something
    • Understand the Power of Drugs and Alcohol
    • Trust, but Verify
    Good stuff, Tea! Thank you for sharing.

  • Investing in Homegrown Leaders:
    Here’s How to Develop Effective Lawyer Leadership Skills

    by Yuliya LaRoe, LeadWise Group

    Lawyer leadership skills. We all know they are important. But can they be taught? The answer is yes…if lawyers want to learn! In her article, Yuliya defines leadership:
    "The core purpose of leadership is to mobilize people (in a department, practice group, firm, company, community) around common goals to achieve concrete outcomes at scale."
    And then outlines five pillars of law firm leadership as follows:

    • Leader Identity
    • Leadership Impact
    • Strategic Thinking
    • People Management
    • Personal Productivity and Peak Performance
    Helping your lawyers become better leaders just makes sense – from a talent engagement perspective and a business perspective. The sooner you begin investing in people, the sooner you will see them (and your firm) thrive.

  • Your Firm Administrator 
    The Best Investment your Firm can Make

    by John Remsen, Jr., TheRemsenGroup

    We believe that, for most law firms, there should be a single managing partner who should serve as the firm's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and focus most of his/her attention on big picture issues like vision, strategy, culture and change. This is leadership. Most management and day-to-day administrative tasks and responsibilities should be handled by a trusted and well-qualified firm administrator or Chief Operating Officer (COO). 

    Yet, many firms do not take the leap. These firms see administration as “overhead,” not as an “investment” that yields great long-term value. In these firms, the managing partner, and other high-performing lawyers, often get bogged down in too much “administrivia” and lose sight of the more important big picture contributions. In the article, we recommend:

    • Educate Your Partners
    • Hire and Empower a Top-Level Administrative Team
    • Give Your Administrator Voice and a Seat at the Table
    • Create Job Descriptions for Key Roles
    Some articles stand the test of time, including this one we wrote many years ago.

  • COVID-19 and its Effects on Gender Diversity in the Law  
    by Gabrielle C. Pelura, Esq., Bressler Amery & Ross, PC

    Citing numerous other articles and research, this article writes about the benefits of remote working for women. 

  • More than Ever, Now is the Time for Female Leadership in Law Firms 
    by Stephen L. Mabey, Applied Strategies

    In his article Steve says that legal departments and law firms who actively promote women into leadership roles are more likely to achieve long-term solutions than not.

  • Empowering Women in the Workplace 
    by Valerie A. Danner, Legal Management Magazine

    Valerie is senior managing editor of Legal Management and quotes MPF Faculty Members April Campbell, JD; and Dr. Larry Richard extensively in her article.

  • Avoiding Law Firm Armageddon:
    The Sequel...Two Strikes and You're Out

    by Jonathan Middleburgh, Edge International

    This article tells the story of a once-successful Latin American law firm that blew apart over trust issues between founding partners. Jonathan says that "trust between partners is difficult to build up and relatively easy to break. Once broken, trust is extremely difficult to rebuild...It takes a long time...and the key players need to work intentionally on their relationship." It starts with an honest, open conversation among the parties involved.

  • Unpleasant Truth about Law Firm Culture 
    by Jordan Furlong, Law21

    In this short and thoughtful article, Jordan suggests that your firm's culture is more about its actions and choices over time, not words on its website. Says Jordan: "A law firm's culture is defined by what is rewarded, what is tolerated, what is overlooked, and what is punished. At many firms, the outcome is jarringly different from what leadership might want." We could not agree more. 

  • The State of the Business of Law: Leadership and Governance 
    by John Remsen, Jr., TheRemsenGroup

    We thought we would get off the COVID topic, and dig back into the vault to feature a piece we wrote for Law Practice Today. Upon rereading it, it's interesting to note that things haven't changed all that much since January 2018 when this article was originally published. Our recommendations to law firm managing partners at that time included:

    • Be a leader, not just a manager. Know the difference; 
    • Pick your battles carefully, and win the ones you pick;
    • Invest in your leadership skills as they don't teach much about them in law school;
    • Identify and groom your firm’s future leaders; and
    • Create a job description…for you and your successors.
    Our advice still stands more than ever, especially during times of change and uncertainty.

  • How to Do Hybrid Right
    by Lynda Gratton, Harvard Business Review

    Since COVID sent everybody home last March, the vast majority of smaller and midsize law firms adapted quite successfully to working remotely. As we emerge from the pandemic, many firm leaders are starting to recognize what is possible. This excellent article will help clarify your thoughts and perspectives on remote working and hybrid models. This article encourages leaders to consider flexible work schedules from four main perspectives:

    • Job and tasks
    • Employee preferences
    • Projects and workflows
    • Inclusion and fairness
    Lynda is a professor at the London Business School and founder of HSM, a future-of-work consultancy. 

  • The Psychology of Crisis Leadership  
    by Dr. Larry Richard, Founder, LawyerBrain LLC

    Law firm leaders are intensely focused on responding to the CoronaVirus crisis. However, despite their best efforts, many leaders are telling me that their people are experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety, fear, and emotional overload. That’s not surprising, given the pace and magnitude of the changes affecting us all.  

  • Leading in a Time of Change 
    by Dr. Larry Richard, Founder, LawyerBrain LLC  

    During the turbulence of the past 14 months, most law firms have rightly focused their attention on managing their finances -- cutting expenses, supporting profitable practices, trimming headcount, etc. At the same time, firms have paid less attention to leadership. Ironically, it is during this time of great upheaval that the need for leadership is greatest.  

  • Using Core Values to Strategize your Post-Covid Return to the Office
    by Jessica Wishart, Rhythm Systems

    Using core values to help make decisions that will impact your firm and its culture long into the future is an important way to ensure you've carefully considered not only the facts, figures and data involved but also the people, relationships and underlying values that matter to you and your law firm.

  • Now is the Time for Female Leadership 
    by Stephen Mabey, Principal and Managing Director, Applied Strategies, Inc. 

    As a thought-leader among law firm consultants, Steve always has interesting things to say. In this four-page article, Steve suggests that now just might be the ideal time for both law firms and in-house legal departments to embrace female leadership.

  • The All-Terrain Law Firm:
    Creating Value in a Rocky Economic Climate

    by Roger E. Barton, Esq.

    There will always be times when the way ahead is rocky and uncertain. That’s an unavoidable fact. But the great separator will be between those law firms that can adapt and forge ahead into the unknown and those that can only go as far as the paved road lets them. Encountering rocky terrain does not mean you’re inevitably going to crash. It just means that you need to be using the right piece of equipment to navigate it. Thank you, Roger, for your perspective.

  • How Centers of Excellence Are 
    Accelerating Efficiencies Across the Legal Landscape 

    by HBR Consulting

    As the pace of change accelerates, law firms need to acutely define their core competencies and align business strategies, talent and resources to differentiate themselves in today's market. Centers of Excellence (CoEs) just might be the way to go! In essence, CoEs are teams of experts that provide leadership, research, guidance and best practices to help your firm implement scalable and nimble approaches to changing market conditions. This practical article offers interesting insights. 

  • The Managing Partner's Guide to IT Audits 
    by Lee Hovermale and Don Champagne

    As your firm's CEO, you're the person ultimately responsible to ensure that the IT systems and protocols at your firm are aligned are secured and aligned to achieve the firm's goals. They must be competently managed, maintained and updated on a regular basis. This short and practical article will help.

  • Ten Top Strategies
    For Retaining Tomorrow’s Talent 

    by Sharon M. Abrahams, Ph.D.

    In this two-page article, Sharon sets forth practical and effective initiatives that your firm can implement today to retain young lawyers and support staff. By communicating with your talent, providing the proper tools and giving opportunities to grow along the way, you are more likely to retain your attorneys so they will become the next generation of partners and leaders at your firm.

  • 2020 – Icebergs and Sea Monsters  
    by Gerry Riskin, Edge International

    In this period of unprecedented change in the legal profession, many firms appear to be clinging to the past and the ways they’ve always done things. After all, it’s been a successful model for many years. In this article, Gerry uses the example of vessels in a sea of turbulent waters. Some vessels will make it and others will sink.  The visionary captain of a successful vessel must:

    • Invest in Technology
    • Tune into Younger Lawyers 
    • Get Closer to Clients 
    • Invent New Ways of Pricing 
    • Implement Project Management
    • Monitor Efforts of the Crew
    • Reward Desired Performance
    As managing partner, you’re the captain of your ship. Is your firm ready to fend off the pirates?

  • Why Inclusive Leaders
    Are Good for Organizations, and How to Become One 

    by Juliet Bourke and Andrea Espedido, Harvard Business Review

    According to numerous studies and our experience working with hundreds of law firms, the most successful and profitable firms are characterized by a culture of collaboration, sharing and teamwork. After all, you’re running a law firm, not a collection of sole practitioners sharing office space. Being an inclusive firm leader goes a long way toward building such a culture. This article runs just two pages and is packed full of great ideas and concepts. Here are the six attributes the distinguish inclusive leaders:

    • Visible Commitment
    • Humility
    • Awareness of Bias
    • Curious about Others
    • Cultural Intelligence
    • Effective Collaboration
    These traits may seem obvious. Importantly, the article provides three insights that would be very helpful to you as a firm leader.

  • Five Tips for Facing
    Non-Performing Partners Head-On

    by Tea Hoffmann, Esq.

    According to Altman Weil’s 2018 Law Firms in Transition report, eighty-three percent (83%) of law firms admit to having chronically under-performing equity partners within their ranks. Instead of avoiding the issue (as many firms do), Tea recommends that law firm leaders address non-performance early on and at the first sign of a problem. She offers these five tips:

    • Begin with the End in Mind
      Hire the right people in the first place. Use psychological assessment tools as part of your hiring process.
    • Begin Biz Dev Early – But Don’t Necessarily Write-off the Late Bloomers
      Start training your associates early. Don’t wait until year six or seven to invest in their rainmaking skills.
    • Track, Praise and Reward Success
      What gets measured gets done, and positive reinforcement is a huge motivator.
    • Realize that Being Kind May Be Cruel
      Sweeping the issue under the rug is not healthy for the firm or the non-performer.
    • Avoid a Failure of Leadership
      Set goals, maintain standards and hold people accountable.
    We agree completely with the point Tea makes in her article. Leading a law firm is not an easy job. Leading a law firm requires courage. With rare exceptions, chronic under-performance must not be tolerated.

  • Seven Ways Managers Motivate and Demotivate Employees 
    by Dr. Travis Bradberry

    According to Gallup, 70% of employees are disengaged at work. Furthermore, 70% of an employee’s motivation is directly influenced by his/her manager or supervisor. Motivated employees are 37% more productive, and they’re 87% less likely to quit. When it comes to your law firm, substitute the term “Equity Partner” for “Manager/Supervisor” and the words “Associates/Support Staff” for “Employees.” For starters, Travis says you need to stop making things worse by eradicating seven negative behaviors. Here are three of them:

    • Letting Accomplishments go Unrecognized,
    • Tolerating Bad Performance, and
    • Going Back on Commitments.
    After that, you should go to work on making things better. He sets forth seven things you can do to make people love their jobs. Here are three of them:
    • Be Strong, Not Harsh,
    • Be a Role Model, and
    • Be Humble.
    We’ve observed that many Equity Partners receive little or no training on how to be a good boss. This is a nice article to circulate and discuss at an upcoming partnership meeting.

  • What to Do When Morale is Low
    by Dr. Larry Richard, LawyerBrain LLC

    Larry is the world’s leading expert on the lawyer personality. He’s has been on the MPF Faculty since the early days and is consistently rated one of our most popular speakers. We’ve also presented stand-alone conferences with him about the psychology of leading lawyers, and we’ll be including him in future programs.

    This 14-page article offers practical guidance on what to do when the esprit de corps can use a boost at your law firm. It starts with leadership, and here are Larry’s ten key factors that can transform any organization, including your firm.

    • Clear and Passionate Goals
    • Meaning and Purpose
    • Social Connection and Caring
    • Competence and Feedback on Performance
    • Autonomy
    • Pride
    • Gratitude and Recognition
    • Respect
    • Fairness
    • Time to Renew
    The more consistently you apply these concepts and principles, the more likely you are to have a happy, productive law firm.

  • Meaningful Compensation for Practice
    and Industry Team Leaders (and Teams) – How Important Is It?

    by John Smock

    John Smock believes that well-run, focused practice and industry teams offer the best opportunity for consistent and continued growth in revenue and profitability. He further maintains that it’s critically important for law firms to reward and compensate team leaders based on the performance and profitability of the team.

    The problem is that far too few firms do it in a meaningful way, as compensation systems typically focus on individual, not group, performance. In this six-page article, John describes an approach that rewards team leaders without upsetting the existing compensation system at your firm.

  • The State of the Business of Law:
    Leadership and Governance 

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    As the business of law evolves, so do the leadership and governance models at today’s most successful smaller and mid-size law firms. Drawing upon bench-marking data we collected in three MPF surveys last year, this article finds that smaller and mid-size law firms are slowly implementing more structured governance models intended to streamline decision-making empower stronger leadership. In the article, we also present our recommendations for today’s law firm leader, including:

    Lead More and Manage Less
    Your role as firm leader si not to make everybody happy. Your role is to lead a profitable and successful law firm and that sometimes involves making tough decisions and holding partners accountable.

    Codify Roles and Responsibilities
    You need a job description setting forth your responsibilities, the time required of the role, and how you get paid for that time. So does your executive committee, and so do your practice group leaders.

    Invest in Your Leadership Skills
    Read books and articles, go to conferences, and befriend other firm leaders in town. It’s not an easy job, and you don’t have to go at it alone.

  • Do You Know What It Takes
    To Be An Effective Firm Leader?

    by Patrick J. McKenna

    Patrick works primarily with leaders of AmLaw 100 law firms and has written many articles and several books on effective law firm leadership. Each year, he also presents a one-day Workshop called “The First 100 Days” for leaders of large law firms. In this article, he provides 29 tips to be more effective in the challenging, often ill-defined, role of law firm leaders. Among his suggestions:

    • Attend to the needs of your family, as your change in responsibilities will affect them whether you acknowledge it or not.
    • Be ready to deal with the sudden isolation associated with the leadership role. As they say, it can be lonely at the top.
    • Set your own path, and avoid undue bias from your predecessor’s priorities, influence and style.
    • Carefully manage your daily agenda, including ample “walking around time” to interact regularly with your colleagues.
    • Pick your battles carefully, as moving too quickly can cause as many problems as moving too slowly.
    • Achieve some quick, small, visible successes early on to inspire initial confidence in your leadership skills.
    This great article is a “must read” for law firm leaders, both new and old!

  • Your Old Guard is Leaving.
    Are Your Firm’s New Leaders Ready? 

    by Ida Abbott

    Rather than a formal and elaborate firm-wide training and development program, Ida believes that the best approach to developing future firm leaders is to have established firm leaders build the next generation of leaders through mentorship. Importantly, to employ a “leaders teaching leaders” approach, your firm needs a supportive culture, leaders who are good mentors, resources and accountability. It does require a considerable investment of time – a most precious resource – by busy and productive partners. Done the right way, your firm can assure itself of a long and successful future.

  • Don’t Accept Weak Leadership!
    by August J. Aquila

    It’s an extremely difficult situation when a law firm has weak and ineffective leadership. And in many smaller and mid-size law firms, the ineffective leader is often the founding partner. August contends when partners find themselves with poor leadership, they need to take the ultimate responsibility and assume control of the firm. Otherwise, the firm’s long-term livelihood is in jeopardy.

    The primary contributions of a great law firm leader are to drive firm strategy, assign responsibilities, and help lawyers and support staff grow both personally and professionally. If a leader doesn’t do these things, nothing else may matter.

  • Leadership Insights in the Age of Millennial Lawyers
    by Brewster S. Rawls, Esq.

    Brewster is founder of Rawls Law Group, a boutique healthcare firm based in Richmond, and he’s participated in several MPF Leadership Conference over the years. And while many firm leaders bemoan the flaws of the younger generation, Brewster says that his experience has been (mostly) a positive one. Unlike many firms, Brewster reports that his firm has been highly successful recruiting and retaining young lawyers and support staff. Here are some of his suggestions to other firm leaders:

    • Share the Big Picture and Keep the Focus on Your Clients
    • Only Make Rules that Are Absolutely Necessary and Enforce Them Consistently
    • Implement Flex-Time Policies and Don’t Micromanage
    • Encourage Risk-Taking and Learn from Mistakes
    • Be Honest, Authentic and Lead by “The Golden Rule”
    We thank Brewster for sharing this great article with our readers.

  • Investing in Law Firm Leadership 
    by Corporate Culture Consulting

    More than ever, running a successful law firm in today’s evolving and cut-throat marketplace for legal services requires a commitment to planning and leadership. Yet, when it comes to leadership training, recent MPF surveys suggest that smaller and mid-size law firms are doing an abysmal job in this important area. For example, 75% of managing partners report that their firms are doing a “fair” or “poor” job grooming future firm leaders, and only 32% of managing partners indicate that their firms provide any kind of leadership training for its young lawyers.

    This short article reminds us that most organizations don’t run very well without strong and effective leadership.

  • 10 Ways to Win the Law Firm Ratings Game
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Remember the good ole days when Martindale-Hubbell ruled the world? And its coveted “av” rating? And those big books impressively displayed in your firm’s law library? Well, times have changed!

    Today, there are more than 1,100 lawyer and law firm accolades, rankings, listings and directories, according to Jaffe. The number has exploded in the last ten years.

    Do your firm’s clients reference directories in their selection of counsel? Which ones (if any) are best for your firm and its lawyers? What policies (if any) should your firm have in place to ensure you’re achieving maximum ROI?

    After thirty years in the business of law, we’re pleased to offer our thoughts and guidance.

  • The Role of Leadership in Law Firm Success or Failure
    by Roger Hayse

    Based in Dallas, Roger has been working with law firms and service providers to the legal industry for more than 30 years. Interestingly, he especially enjoys working with firms in transition. In this article, he writes about the need for committed and effective leadership in law firms. He also dispenses practical guidance to leaders of law firms that currently enjoy a solid and stable situation, as well as firms in difficult and stressful circumstances.

  • The Relationship between Leadership
    and Management in Successful Law Firms

    by Joel A. Rose

    Armed with an MBA from The Wharton School, Joel has been advising law firms since he began his management consulting career in 1966. He’s a frequent speaker and author on a myriad of topics related to the business of law.

    In this article, Joel writes about the important relationship between leadership and management in the law firm environment. In particular, he discusses the relationship between the managing partner and the firm’s executive/management committee, and requisites for firm leadership. He also asserts that, for a firm to achieve its highest potential, partners must be willing to subordinate some degree of autonomy and independence to firm leadership.

  • The Makings of
    an Exceptional Law Firm Leader

    by Roger Hayse, Hayse LLC

    In April 2017, McKinsey & Company published an article - “What Makes a CEO ‘Exceptional’?” - that examines and analyzes the characteristics of highly effective CEOs of S&P 500 companies. Roger’s article brings it home to law firms, in particular, and discusses three characteristics that contribute to successful leadership in the law firm environment. They are:

    • Came from Outside the Organization
    • Acted Strategically
    • Took Informed Action
    Although we’ve run across few law firms willing to be led by an outsider, the other two attributes can be successfully achieved and are absolutely essential for effective law firm leadership.

  • How to Evaluate Law Firm Leaders
    by Donald L. Mrozek, Esq.

    From 1988-2015, Don served as Chairman of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP. Under his leadership, the firm grew to become a national firm with more than 500 lawyers and 25 office locations. In his two-page article, Don sets forth an easy, yet effective, way for firms to evaluate and assess the performance of their leaders. And as the pace of change heats up, planning and leadership are required more than ever.

  • Three Steps to
    More Effective Practice Group Leadership

    by Eric A. Seeger

    The success (or failure) of your firm’s practice groups will depend largely on the effectiveness of its practice group leaders. Because firms compete primarily at the practice group level, it’s imperative for your firm to have the right people in these critically important leadership roles. Eric says there are three ways to achieve more effective leadership in your firm:

    • Select the Right People
    • Provide Training and Development
    • Hold Leaders Accountable
    We couldn’t agree more. All too often, firms default to the most senior partners or the partners with the biggest books of business for these roles. They may not be the right people for the job.

  • Your Firm Administrator:
    The Best Investment Your Firm Can Make

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    We’re constantly reminding managing partners to think “big picture” and get the day-to-day stuff off their plates. Ideally, they should think and act more like CEOs, with trusted, competent and capable COOs at their sides. As CEOs, managing partners should focus time and attention on these types of priorities:

    • Implementing Long-Term Strategic Objectives
    • Maintaining Consensus Among Firm Owners
    • Initiating Change to Remain Competitive
    • Building a “Firm-First” Culture
    • Enforcing Partner Accountability
    The COO, working closely and in step with the CEO, should have primary responsibility to oversee the day-to-day business affairs of the firm, including Human Resources, Information Technology, Marketing, Finance and Facilities. Importantly, the COO should have a “seat at the table” at partnership and executive/management committee meetings.

  • Do Your Law Firm Leaders Lead or Manage?
    by Susan Saltonstall Duncan

    As law firms plot their strategies to adapt to today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, the need for effective planning and leadership is more important than ever. It’s critical that firms put their best people in these critical roles. Susan’s article concludes with the seven most important characteristics for today’s firm leaders.

    • Visionary
    • Strategic
    • Self-Aware
    • Drive and Purpose
    • Others Before Self
    • Trustworthy
    • Social and Political
    We might add an eighth and very important characteristic of firm leaders.
    • Desire
      A passionate desire and willingness to sacrifice a personal law practice to achieve long-term success for the firm.

  • What Are the Obligations of Partners?
    by Thomas S. Clay

    Back in the good ole days, a young lawyer “made partner” simply by hanging around for seven or eight years and not upsetting too many clients or too many of the current partners. Once in, it was next to impossible for a partner to be voted out. Those days are long gone, as a growing number of firms have raised the bar for admission and look for much more than time served as they bring on new firm owners. “We’re running a business not a country club. Partners must act and contribute as owners, not long-time employees.” says one of the more vocal members of the MPF Advisory Board. And she’s right!

    In this article, Tom spells out the obligations of law firm owners, including:

    • Personal Collections,
    • Client Satisfaction,
    • Book of Business,
    • Firm Leadership,
    • Succession Planning, and
    • Firm Citizenship.
    Is your firm holding its equity partners accountable to think and act like firm owners?

  • Why Managing Partners
    “Own” Law Firm Cyber Security
    and Three Steps to Take Control Now 

    by Judy Selby & Deena Coffman

    This article maintains that the managing partner must take the helm as the true owner of the law firm’s cybersecurity. We agree. Unfortunately, many firm leaders view it as an “IT issue.” Judy and Deena write that cybersecurity requires a broad-based approach that exceeds the reach and capabilities of the IT department, and that the managing partner is the best person to set the tone and require that cybersecurity become a firm-wide priority. Here are the steps to begin:

    • Commission a Third Party Assessment,
    • Develop a Security Event Response Plan, and
    • Review and Implement Security and Privacy Training.
    Is your firm prepared?

  • Culture Matters
    by Anne Collier

    A successful firm, according to the body of research on the subject, is one characterized by a team-oriented, firm-first culture. Anne maintains that an individual lawyer succeeds only when the firm succeeds. She writes that effective teamwork in a law firm is brought about by a five-step process that can transform a disparate group of lawyers into a high-performing team that achieves great results. He five steps are:

    • Build Trust
    • Harness Diversity
    • Achieve Commitment
    • Embrace Accountability
    • Focus on Goals
    This is an excellent article to circulate among your partners. Good stuff.

  • Are You Accountable for Your Accountability Measures? 
    by Eric Dewey

    Building accountability into an important firm initiative is difficult. As firm leader, you can neither assume it will happen, nor can you demand it. Accountability measures require genuine buy-in and commitment from firm leadership, and the require sensitivity by project leaders to the challenges each lawyer will face in contributing to the project. Success comes from enthusiastic participation in the program, not from metrics. Too often, says Eric, accountability measures can derail the success of a program if they are not handled correctly. His provides excellent guidance and advice.  

  • Your Firm's Noble Purpose:
    The Key to Partner Engagement


    Riveting bolts or building the Golden Gate Bridge? Cutting stone or constructing Notre Dame Cathedral? Does your firm have a “Noble Purpose?” Many studies reveal that how your firm and its people perceive their contributions to the world and to society have a significant impact on their engagement in their work, as well as their long-term career satisfaction. Does your firm have a “Noble Purpose"…a reason for being that engages and fulfills your partners, your associates and your support staff? Here are a few to consider:

    • We help entrepreneurs make their dreams come true.
    • We help injured people find justice.
    • We make the biggest real estate projects in town happen.
    • We help senior citizens enjoy retirement comfortably.
    You get the idea. What’s your firm’s “Noble Purpose?”

  • 13 Habits of Phenomenally Successful Leaders
    by Evan Asano

    As a leader in your firm, you set the culture. Great leaders set and maintain an optimal culture where each individual enthusiastically contributes their best work for the good of the entire organization. We’re constantly on the look-out for impactful articles about law firm leadership to share with our readers and this one – although not specifically about law firm leadership – really grabbed my attention. It’s short. It’s practical. And it’s really good. Here are five of the 13 habits:

    Listen. Great leadership comes from understanding your organization and its people. Understanding comes from listening to your partners, your clients and market.

    Share. Share your vision and goals. Set the bar high. People want to feel like they’re part of something great.

    Recognize. Always recognize and celebrate your team. Great leaders share credit for success and accept responsibility for failure. Also, they praise in public and criticize in private.

    Commit. Make a commitment to yourself to be the best firm leader you can be. Read books and articles. Attend conferences. Collaborate with other leaders, both in and out of the legal profession.

    Take Care. Be good to yourself. Studies reveal that you’re at your best when you exercise and engage in a healthy lifestyle.

  • Are You Aggressively Driving Firm Growth?
    Or Biding Your Time in the Passenger Seat?

    by Gale Crosley, CPA

    Gale is a rock star in the world of CPA firms. She’s been selected as a “Most Recommended Consultant” by Inside Public Accounting for nine consecutive years, and as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting” by Accounting Today for seven consecutive years. This article speaks to those firm owners (in either a CPA firm or law firm) who have comfortably settled into the passenger seats at their firms and, until now, have been along for the ride. (I’ll bet you even have some at your firm!) Now, many of these “passengers” are being asked to slide into the driver’s seat. They’re being asked lead, market and help grow the firm. But all is not lost. There is hope and this short, yet powerful, article is a great place to start.

  • Are You Asking the Right Questions? 
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Here are 12 questions that you, as an effective firm leader, should be asking yourself, your fellow firm leaders, your lawyers and your support staff on a regular basis.

  • Honing Your Humility:
    An Antidote for Big Egos 

    by Mark Beese

    In this article, Mark writes about research by Edward Hess, a professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business, which compiles the findings of eight well-researched and highly-regarded studies about high-performing organizations. Using different approaches and methodologies, all eight studies found that high-performing organizations share these characteristics:

    • High Employee Engagement,
    • Constant and Relentless Improvement,
    • Strong Purposeful Cultures, and
    • Humble, Passionate Leadership.
    The article provides practical ways that you can “hone your humility” to become a more effective law firm leader.

  • Five Lessons for New Firm Leaders 
    by Glenn B. Callison, Esq.

    MPF Advisory Board member Glenn Callison wrote this article for Texas Lawyer magazine a few years ago. In it, he talks about what he has learned in his role as Chairman and CEO of Munsch Hardt, a 100-lawyer law firm based in Dallas, TX.

  • Observations from the
    Inaugural MPF Leadership Academy

    by John Remsen, Jr.; Stephen Mabey & Karen MacKay

    Our inaugural Leadership Academy was a great success and we’re pleased to share a brief article highlighting four of the main topics (along with faculty commentary) we discussed. They are:

    • Succession and Talent Management
    • Firm Values and Culture
    • Leading Change in the Law Firm
    • Key Attributes of an Effective Firm Leader
    Based on the feedback we’ve been getting from participants, we’ll be presenting more of these workshops in the future. Stay tuned for details.

  • Leadership: Has It Ever Been More Important?
    by Stephen Mabey

    In this article, Steve sets forth the five traits of effective law firm leadership, the obstacles that impede quality leadership at many firms, and the styles of leadership that might be right for your firm. Finding that right leadership style is more “art” than “science.” By the way, Steve’s five traits for effective leadership are:  

    • Firm-First Mindset and Attitude,
    • Empathy for Others’ Motivations,
    • Receptivity to New Ways of Doing Things,
    • Personal Credibility and Political Capital, and
    • Strong Communication Skills.
    How are you doing in your role as firm leader? This article contains some guidance to help you improve.  

  • Eight Ways to Make
    Your Law Firm a Great Place to Work

    by Dr. Larry Richard

    “When you transform your law firm into a great place to work, the psychological engagement of your people soars,” says Larry Richard. “And engagement is the attitudinal gold standard” that leads to higher productivity, improved career satisfaction, more loyalty and longer tenure and, ultimately, increased profitability.” Larry offers eight things you can do that really matter to make your law firm an exceptional place to work.

  • Leading Lawyers:
    Your Most Potent Tool is Your Mindset 

    by Dr. Larry Richard

    The skill set required of a great lawyer is far different (in fact, the exact opposite in many areas) than the skill set required of a great law firm leader. Great leaders are optimists, embrace change and think long-term. In this article, Larry outlines the “behavioral influence” approach to leadership and provides a simple set of strategies that can be highly effective in leading the lawyers in your firm. They are:

    • Role Modeling (aka Leading by Example). We pay far more attention to what leaders do, rather than to what they say.
    • Social Proof (aka Bandwagon Effect.) In times of uncertainty, we pay close attention to what others are doing and we tend to follow.
    • Commitment and Consistency. Start small and build on success. You’ve got to eat the elephant one bite at a time.
    • Similarity. We want to be like successful people around us and do what works for them. Nobody wants to be the odd man out.
    It’s a great article with solid leadership advice.

  • Succession Planning:
    How to Hand Your Law Firm to the Next Generation

    by Sue Remley

    When it comes to succession planning within a law firm, we often hear from managing partners: “I’m concerned that our young partners don’t have what it takes to run this firm in the future. They lack the drive, commitment and work ethic to become owners of the business.” And from young partners, we hear: “The senior partners won’t let go. They cling to control and won’t introduce us to their clients and referral sources.” Firms need to find ways to bridge the gap if they want to be around in 2020 and beyond. Sue shares her advice to help your firm manage its succession process.

  • Successfully Managing the Multi-Generational Firm
    by Natasha Jarosek, Thomson Reuters

    If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard a gazillion (that’s right, gazillion) times from frustrated law firm leaders: “Today’s young lawyers just don’t want to work very hard like I did when I was a young lawyer. They want work-life balance, yet they believe they’re entitled to make the big bucks just because they went to law school. Back in my day…” Well, young lawyers are here to stay, and they’re starting to assume leadership roles in many firms. You’re not going to change an entire generation, so you best learn to understand them and what makes them tick.

    • Traditionalists (born before 1946) – The WWII generation likes stability and clear direction.
    • Baby Boomers (1946-1964) – These folks want work-life balance and understand the “big picture.”
    • Gen X (1965-1980) – These are creative types who like autonomy and variety.
    • Millennials (1981-2000) – Multi-taskers who thrive on recognition and constructive feedback.
    Natasha includes her tips and offers a few additional resources if you want to lean more.

  • How to Run a Great Meeting
    by Mike O'Horo

    We’ve all spent countless hours in unproductive, time-wasting meetings. Meetings that begin 15 minutes late and have no agenda, no leadership and wander aimlessly from topic to topic. Meetings during which most of the participants appear more engaged with their smart phones than the conversation before them.

    As an effective law firm leader, it’s critically important that the meetings you run be meaningful, valuable and effective. In fact, I know many managing partners take pride in and are known for their ability to run a great meeting. In our opinion, great firm leaders run great meetings.

    Major Themes and Issues at The MPF 2014 Leadership Conference

    by John Remsen, Jr. and Timothy B. Corcoran

    Timothy Corcoran, our Keynote Speaker, was well-received in delivering a hard-hitting presentation emphasizing our theme – “Evolve or Perish: Leading Your Firm in an Increasingly Competitive Market.” Together, we wrote a two-page report immediately after the Conference highlighting some of the major themes and issues discussed during the day. Among them:

    • The Challenges of Strategic Planning and Implementation
    • Why and When to Hire a Marketing Director
    • Dealing Effectively with Chronic Underperformers
    • Recruiting Laterals with Books of Business

  • Law Firm Innovation:
    From Idea to Implementation in Five Increasingly Difficult Steps

    by Jordan Furlong

    Jordan Furlong is a lawyer, consultant and industry analyst who forecasts the dramatic impact the changing legal market will have on lawyers, law firms and other legal organizations. And, as we all know, leading change in the law firm is a challenging task. In this short, but really good, article, Jordan outlines a five step process to make it happen. His guidance:

    •  Start with the facts, not abstract, faith-based notions, of the situation
    •  Find a catalyst to induce a sense of urgency
    •  Outline a clear, detailed plan to achieve the desired goal
    •  Appoint and empower forward-thinking leaders throughout the firm
    •  Have the courage to take the heat when the going gets tough

  • Herding Cats:
    The Lawyer Personality Revealed  ** AN MPF CLASSIC **

    by Dr. Larry Richard

    According to the research presented in this timeless, often-cited, article by Dr. Larry Richard, lawyers are off the charts - when compared to the general population - when it comes to certain personality characteristics. Among them:

    • Highly skeptical,
    • Hate change,
    • Risk averse,
    • Love autonomy,
    • Low resilience, and
    • High sense of urgency.
    A must read article to help you, as managing partner of your firm, understand what you’re up against.  

  • Ten Things I'd Do
    Differently as a Law Firm CEO

    by Timothy B. Corcoran

    This is a terrific article written by Tim Corcoran, a new member of the MPF faculty. Tim has worked in the legal industry for more than 20 years helping law firms, in-house legal departments and suppliers to the legal services industry deal with and capitalize on the rapidly changing landscape surrounding them. In this article, he shares ten things he’d do differently if he were put in charge of a mid-size law firm.

    Among his recommendations:

    • Change your governance model,
    • Measure client satisfaction obsessively, and
    • Require leadership and management training for your lawyers.
    A great read.

  • Featured Video 

    Here's a short but hard-hitting video that hammers home the dramatic changes in the legal industry over the past decade. We suggest that you play it at your next partnership meeting and ask your partners what they think. If this doesn't get their attention that your firm needs to change, nothing will. The video is produced by, an initiative launched by an outfit called Axiom. Stay tuned.

  • Driving Execution:
    Seven Ways To Get Your Team's Brilliant Ideas Executed

    by Gerry Riskin

    After 25 years in the legal industry, I often find myself working with firms that are long on planning, yet woefully short when it comes to implementation. My advice? Pick just three meaningful initiatives, dedicate the required resources, and assign a responsible partner – not a committee – to make sure each initiative is accomplished. And follow the advice is Gerry's brilliant article.

  • Tolstoy Was Right 
    by Ed Wesemann

    In this gem of an article, Ed says he finds little in common among unsuccessful law firms, because each one tends to fail in its own unique way. He does, however, find that there are a number of factors that are almost always present in highly successful law firms. These factors include leadership, expectations, and a subjective compensation plan.

  • Seven Strategies
    to Succeed at Law Firm Leadership 

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    This is an article we wrote that appeared in the November/December issue of Law Practice magazine, published by the American Bar Association. Our advice to firm leaders? Create job descriptions. Get to know the firm's top clients. Develop a firm-wide strategic plan. And encourage partners to invest in the firm's future.

  • Today's Law Firm Leader as Juggler  
    by Brian K. Burke, Esq.

    Much has been written lately about where an effective managing partner should spend most of his/her leadership and management time. And MPF faculty member Brian Burke has strong feelings on the issue. He suggests that helping strong performers, meeting with clients and focusing on long-term strategy are where it's at. Brian especially warns firm leaders against spending too much time trying to rescue "lost causes" who cannot or will not ever become productive members of the firm. In many cases, it's best to help them move on, he says. This article appeared in the Sept/Oct 2012 issue the ABA's Law Practice Magazine.  

  • The Chain: LinkedIn is More than Social Media for Lawyers
    by Dennis Kennedy

    In this article from the ABA Journal, Dennis succinctly presents his reasons why every lawyer in private practice should have a LinkedIn profile. For starters, it's likely to be among the top three results when someone "googles" your name on the Internet. But that's just the beginning. Dennis is co-author of LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers.

  • What's Our Deal?
    by David Maister

    David Maister writes some really good stuff and you'll find lots of his books and articles featured on our Website. This particular article discusses things like mission, vision, values and culture in the context of a law firm. It's a great article to circulate among your partners in advance of your next Firm Retreat. It will get them thinking about a whole bunch of issues, including the rules and codes of conduct (if any) by which your firm and its professionals live.

  • Law Firm Management Science: Ignore at Your Peril
    by Timothy Corcoran

    This interesting and thought-provoking article appears in January edition of the ABA's Law Practice Today. In fact, there are several good articles in this issue, but this one got my attention. Among other things, Corcoran writes about how more progressive law firms are focusing attention on continuous process improvement and finding new, more effective ways to get things done.

  • Why Leaders Need Feedback 
    by Dr. Larry Richard

    As a new member of the MPF faculty, we've asked Larry to provide a few articles for our Website. This one says that, as a law firm leader, you should want and solicit feedback about how you're doing. The more you understand about yourself and how others perceive you, the better equipped you are to effectively respond to the concerns of others, to understand those you lead, and to gain buy-in from them on their own terms.

  • Leadership Development
    Should Your Firm Invest in Growing its Leaders? 

    by Kathleen Bradley

    Developing leadership skills is hard work. And it's especially difficult for lawyers who, by nature, tend to be skeptical, autonomous and risk averse. Yet the absence of strong, committed leaders who are trusted and inspire confidence within the firm is often cited as a major factor in most law firm dissolutions. Has the time come for your firm to invest in developing leadership skills in its lawyers? If no, why not? If yes, what, when, who and how? This article will help answer some of those critical questions.

  • Make Mid-Sized The Right Size
    by Peter S. Marlette, Esq.

    Peter Marlette, Managing Partner of Damon Morey in Buffalo, New York, has recently joined the MPF Advisory Board. This outstanding article, which originally appeared in the New York Law Journal, is must reading for leaders of mid-size law firms. It discusses the exciting opportunities for mid-size firms in today's marketplace for legal services. Among his recommendation: Adopt and implement a firm-wide strategic plan, and become active in the right law firm network. His firm is a member of ALFA International.

  • Where Leaders Stumble
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    In working with hundreds of law firm leaders over the past twenty years, McKenna has observed several warning signs that often lead to weak or ineffective firm leadership.

  • Five Questions to Ask about Your Firm's Succession Readiness
    by Thomas C. Grella, Esq.

    "A leader's lasting value is measured by succession," says leadership author and guru John Maxwell. Tom Grella, a long-term member of the MPF Advisory Board, puts his spin on the topic from the perspective of managing partner of a mid-size firm. Importantly, he writes about the role of current firm leadership in the process. Tom is Past Chair of the ABA's Law Practice Management Section. This article appears in the May/June issue of the ABA's Law Practice magazine.

  • The Evolving Role of Today’s Law Firm Leaders
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Today's law firm leaders face extraordinary challenges. Learn steps that the top level of firm leadership can take to enhance the effectiveness and performance of their organizations.

  • Leadership Transitions: Seven Steps to Ensure Success
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    There is no definitive answer to the question of exactly how long an outgoing leader should stay in office after announcing his or her departure. Many management experts advocate a swift transition to avoid lame-duck syndrome or firm drift. However, one-on-one interviews with dozens of firm leaders reveal a very different approach.

  • Anxieties of Leadership:
    Critical Questions and Answers for New Managing Partners

    by Patrick J. McKenna

    For new managing partners, the responsibilities are multi-faceted and the stakeholders are diverse, both within and outside the firm. This article looks at the most common mistakes, the biggest challenges, some unanticipated surprises, and how to avoid them.

  • Take Responsibility for Rising Stars 
    by Jeffrey M. Cohn, Rakesh Khurana and Laura Reeves

    This article contends that companies that are good at growing leaders do so in the trenches at the “line manager” level, not through their HR departments. That would equate to a department head and practice group leader in the context of a law firm. It includes a “Leadership Development Checklist” on how to grow great leaders.

  • Grooming Next-Generation Leaders 
    by Martha Lagace

    This article interviews a pair of Harvard Business School professors who talk about the importance of identifying future leaders, training them to be effective in their roles and retaining them as top talent – especially in a mid-sized organization.

  • Administrators: The "Secret Sauce" of Law Firm Success
    by Law Office Management & Administration Report (LOMAR)

    We are strong advocates for strong, competent, business-minded administrators in law firms. Management. Marketing. Finance. Human Resources. Technology. They make the trains run on time, and they make the firm more money. This article talks about the critical role of firm administrators from the perspective of three managing partners - from small, mid-size and large law firms. One thought we especially like: "Acting like a partner, that is like an owner not an employee, goes a long way toward helping the administrator get a seat at the table."

  • Advice from a Non-Traditional Law Firm Leader
    by Keith W. Houck

    For many years, Keith Houck was the COO of GrayRobinson, now one of the largest and most successful law firms in Florida. In his article, he compares growing a law firm to nurturing a garden. Although each plant has its own preferences and special needs, they function and look their best as a group. But not every plant is good for the health of the entire group.

  • Sustainability: How Values-driven Law Firms Are Surviving
    Tough Times and Prospering Over the Long Term 

    by William R. Blackburn

    This thought-provoking article was featured in Law Practice Today, the ABA's monthly online magazine. In it, William Blackburn reports on a growing number of law firms that have adopted new models of governance to help them survive, even thrive, in both good times and bad. He profiles numerous firms that have implemented broad-based sustainability initiatives -- cultural, social, economic, environmental, and financial -- to ensure their long-term prosperity and well-being. 

  • Legal Industry Faces Major Changes:
    Large Law Firms Facing Intense Pressure to Adapt 

    by Katy Hopkins

    Much ado has been made over the new partnership between Best Lawyers in America and US News & World Report to present their version of law firm rankings. We'll be writing more on that topic in a soon-to-be-published MPF White Paper. In any event, there are a few thoughtful articles on their website including this one. And it's good news for smaller and mid-size law firms.  

  • Why Do Law Firms Die?  
    by J. Mark Santiago

    There are three common reasons why law firms fail, says this article that appears in the June edition of ABA's Law Practice magazine. Lack of leadership. Lack of strategic focus. Lack of financial discipline. Don't let your firm be among those that fall apart or seek refuge through an acquisition.

  • Lawdragon's 100 Managing Partners You Need to Know

    We found this rather interesting list "100 Managing Partners You Need to Know" browsing the Web earlier this month. Not surprisingly, it appears as if one must be with an AmLaw 200 firm to be on it. Lawdragon says it contacted more than 50,000 legal professionals for their input. 

  • Turning The Business Model in Your Law Firm Inside Out
    by William E. Lowell

    According to a recent Harvard University study, more than 70% of a customer's "brand perception" is based on experiences they have with the organization's employees. For law firms this means both lawyers and support staff. This article speaks to the concept of "relationship capital," which is created when everyone in the firm is focused on working together to achieve a positive brand image and deliver the brand promise to each and every client, prospective client and referral source.

  • A New Leadership Model is Needed

    MPF Faculty member Bob Denney offers practical advice to firm leaders in the wake of the worst economic recession in 70 years.  We couldn’t agree more with Bob’s points. It’s time for law firm leaders to step up.  

  • Great Leadership is Everything:
    11 Leadership Skills for Recovery and Renewal

    by Quint Studer

    This is a must-read article for firm leaders, especially in these challenging times. "Out of difficulty, leaders rise. That someone might as well be you," says acclaimed author Quint Studer. The 11 bits of advice offered in this article are the components of leadership greatness in law firm executives. 

  • Leadership Transitions: Seven Steps to Ensure Success
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    Succession planning is neglected by far too many law firms. In fact, most managing partners - 74% to be exact - do not have an exit strategy when they take the job. This helpful article provides seven thoughtful suggestions to smooth the transition when you're ready to pass the baton. 

  • Best Practices for Setting Managing Partner Pay
    by Peter A. Giuliani

    How should a firm appropriately compensate its managing partner for the non-billable time required of the role?  Take a look at Peter Giuliani's article that appeared recently in the ABA's Law Practice Magazine.

  • Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It:
    First Steps for the New Managing Partner

    by Merrilyn Aston Tarlton

    You've just accepted your new role as managing partner of the firm. Congratulations. Now what? This article, published recently in the ABA's Law Practice Magazine, offers a list of savvy first steps to help you get started on the right foot.  

  • Law Firm Leadership: Accessing the Inner Entrepreneur

    Have you ever heard this excuse from your colleagues? "I didn't go to law school to become a salesperson!" If the business aspects of practicing law don't come naturally to you ... or to someone you know ... this is the article you need. It's time to change your approach and tap into entrepreneurial resources you've had all along.  

  • Becoming a Change Insurgent in the Legal Profession
    by William C. Cobb

    Riffing on an article from Fast Company, a publication that focuses on creative individuals in the business world, Cobb issues advice for the law firm environment. Like "Find, hire and promote people that make you and the organization uncomfortable." This article is a shot in the arm for the naysayers and people afraid of change.  

  • Are Law Firms Manageable?
    by David Maister

    Harvard management guru David Maister asks the ultimate question "Can lawyers be 'managed' at all?" Given their unique personalities, it's no easy task. We think every firm leader should read this article.

  • Defining the Role and Development of a New Managing Partner
    by Joel A. Rose

    The managing partner job rarely comes with an instruction manual or even a job description. Rose polled firm leaders to find out the real concerns of new law firm leaders. Should you lead by consensus or decree? How much time will you spend managing? Learn what your colleagues had to say.

  • Leading Productive Meetings:
    Five Practical Tips for Lawyers and Law Firm Administrators

    by Sally Williamson

    Meetings are one of the most universal parts of business life, but one of the least effective communication tools. Read this article to learn ways to run more efficient and productive meetings at your firm.

  • Orderly Succession of Law Firm Management
    by Joel A. Rose

    Most firms don't utter the "s" word -- succession -- until disaster strikes. This article leads off with a great example of that. Don't let your firm fall into the malaise and wait until fate forces your hand. Succession planning benefits firm leaders of today and tomorrow.