Managing Partners Forum

I gained much value from the candid sharing of ideas and interaction with other managing partners.

Michael E. Keeney, Esq.
Lewis Thomason - Memphis, Tennessee


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  • Decisions that Matter
    by Andrew E. Jillson and Roger L. Hayse

    This is a “must-read” book for every managing partner and law firm leader. It takes the reader through the evolutionary life cycle of a typical law firm; from formation, to growth, to sustainability, to crisis and, for many firms, to closure. Written in a compelling and engaging style, Decisions that Matter exposes the big personalities, the guiding principles and the firm cultures that have shaped many of the legal industry’s greatest success stories, as well as some its most spectacular failures. We highly recommend this terrific and thought-provoking work. Click here to order on Amazon.

  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
    by Robert Cialdini

    Collaboration among highly autonomous partners is essential and still too rare. Learn the six psychological secrets behind people's powerful impulse to comply, how to put them to work on your behalf and how to defend against them. Entertaining and useful on many levels.

  • On Change Management
    by Harvard Business Review

    According to HBR, 70% of all change initiatives fail. Don’t let yours be among them. This collection of ten must-read articles helps firm leaders understand that change involves a long-term, multi-faceted approach in order to be genuine, meaningful and lasting. Among the titles:

    • “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail”     
      by John Kotter
    • “Change through Persuasion”
      by David Garvin and Michael Roberto
    • “The Hard Side of Change Management”     
      by Harold L. Sirkin, Perry Keenan and Alan Jackson
    We highly recommend this easy-to-digest compilation of articles written by the world’s thought leaders on change management and organizational behavior.

  • Lessons in Leadership: Essential Skills for Lawyers
    by Thomas C. Grella, Esq.

    Over the past few years, MPF Faculty member Tom Grella has written numerous articles and several books on law firm leadership and strategic planning. Through a series of practical lessons, Tom draws on his own experiences and applies time-tested leadership principles to lawyers and law firms, including:

    •  Understanding your unique leadership style,
    •  Learning about emerging trends in law firm leadership,
    •  Leading in times of crisis, and,
    •  Creating a legacy though succession planning.
    Lessons in Leadership ($79.95, American Bar Association) is now available in paperback through the ABA’s Website.

  • The No Asshole Rule: 
    Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't

    by Robert I. Sutton

    This meticulously researched book puts into plain language an undeniable fact: The modern workplace, law firms included, is beset with assholes. Sutton argues that assholes – those who deliberately make co-workers feel bad about themselves and who focus their aggression on the less powerful – poison the work environment, decrease productivity, induce qualified employees to quit and therefore are detrimental to businesses, regardless of their individual effectiveness. He also makes the solution plain: They have to go. Although occasionally campy and glib, Sutton's work is sure to generate discussions at water coolers around the country and deserves influence in law firm hiring and firing strategies.

  • The Extraordinary Administrator:
    Career Progession for Law Firm Managers 

    by Paul A.C. Malliaté

    The Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) holds a treasure trove of great information about the business side of running a law firm. This groundbreaking book - written especially for law firm management professionals - provides practical and proven ideas and suggestions to help firm administrators excel in this challenging role. It's well-organized and features numerous articles, surveys and case studies. We've arranged a special deal with ALA, so our readers can purchase this great book for just $35.

  • Leading Change 
    by John P. Kotter

    John Kotter is widely regarded as the world's foremost authority on leadership and change. Leading Change ($26.95, Harvard Business School Press) outlines in just over 200 pages an actionable 8-step process to initiate and sustain organizational change....even in a law firm environment. Another "must-read" for managing partners.

  • Managing the Modern Law Firm:
    New Challenges, New Perspectives

    by Laura Empson

    As the legal profession evolves, competition heats up and law firms continue to grow, an increasing number of firms are choosing to run themselves more like businesses and less like loose confederations of sole practitioners. Many lawyers are appalled by this creeping "corporatization" of the profession, while others believe it's time to adopt more streamlined structures and management practices

    Managing the Modern Law Firm ($40, Oxford University Press), edited by Laura Empson, provides a rich blend of historical perspective, scholarly analysis, and practical insight by an impressive group of professionals and academicians.  At 264 pages, it gives law firm leaders plenty to think about.

  • True Professionalism:
    The Courage to Care about Your People, Your Clients and Your Career

    by David H. Maister

    If we could only recommend one book to a lawyer in private practice, it would be True Professionalism ($26, Simon & Schuster)! Maister's lesson is clear: believe passionately in what you do and never compromise your standards and values. Act like a true professional, aim for excellence and the money will follow. The challenge for leaders is to find the strength and courage to do what we know is right. A must read.

  • Serving at the Pleasure of My Partners:
    Advice for the New Firm Leader  

    by Brian Burke, Esq. and Patrick McKenna

    If we've heard it once, we've heard it 1,000 times. Leading a law firm is by no means an easy task...and they certainly didn't teach you much about it in law school. Thank goodness for the MPF faculty members Brian Burke and Patrick McKenna, who have once again joined forces to provide an invaluable resource for today's firm leader. Serving at the Pleasure of My Partners ($49, West Publishing) is packed full of real-life scenarios and provides proven, practical guidance for today's exceptionally busy managing partner.

    We've partnered with West/Thomson Reuters to extend a 20% discount off the cover price to our readers. Click here for more information and to download the table of contents and a free chapter.

  • The Extraordinary Managing Partner:
    Reaching the Pinnacle of Law Firm Management 

    by John J. Michalik, JD

    At 184-pages, The Extraordinary Managing Partner ($65, ALA) is a must-read for anyone serving or aspiring to serve as a managing partner in a law firm. In 2010, John Michalik stepped down as Executive Director of the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) after serving in the role for 15 years. He has also just published this book based on extensive interviews and research involving 75 exceptional law firm managing partners and their management teams. The top four key traits according to these leaders? Trustworthiness, communication skills, firm-first decision-making and decisiveness.
    Click here to order.

  • First Among Equals: How to Manage a Group of Professionals
    by Patrick J McKenna and David Maister

    There has never been a book quite like this one. First Among Equals ($26, Free Press) is among the foremost books ever written on leadership within a professional services firm and is essential reading for law firm leaders. The book is easy to follow, as the authors draw upon their extensive experiences working with professional services organizations throughout the world. They also include insights and valuable examples culled from some of the top leaders in this field. Originally published in 2002, FOE is now in its sixth printing and has been translated into nine languages. It has also been among the top selling business books for many years in the US, Canada and Australia. The lessons and learnings presented here will give you insights and action tips to help you provoke and inspire your people to their full potential

  • Aligning the Stars: How to Succeed When Professionals Drive Results
    by Jay W. Lorsch and Thomas J. Tierney

    In talent driven firms, stars, say the authors of Aligning the Stars ($39.95, Harvard Business School Press), make the difference between winning and losing - and they walk out the door each day. Outstanding firms align stars across business lines, geographies, even generations. Building a successful firm is akin to building a brick wall: You may want to add many bricks at once, but it's tough to do without toppling the wall.

  • The Knowing-Doing Gap
    by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton

    The Knowing-Doing Gap ($32.50, Harvard Business School Press) confronts the challenge faced by many law firms and their leaders. They know what to do, but they just don't do it! This book is a candid, uselful and realistic guide for improving your firm's organizational performance.

  • Managing the Professional Services Firm
    by David H. Maister

    If you had to pick just one book to read to be more a more effective managing partner, this is it. Managing the Professional Services Firm ($26.00, Free Press), written by David Maister, covers a wide array of topics ranging from strategy to profitability, marketing to motivating employees. This should be in every managing partner's library. 

  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
    by Malcolm Gladwell

    The Tipping Point ($39.95, Hachette Book Group) is another international best-seller from Malcom Gladwell, whose other books include Blink and Outliers. Gladwell examines the phenomenon of social change - that magical, defining moment when an idea, trend and behavior really takes hold and spreads throughout a society or an orgnaization. Gladwell argues that big changes often occur as the result of a series of small events. It's a lively and engaging read. 

  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't
    by Jim Collins

    Good to Great ($29.99, HarperCollins) is one of the leading books on organizational performance in many decades. It discusses concepts like Level 5 Leadership, First Who (first get the right people on the bus, then figure out where to drive it) and the Flywheel. It makes our short list of recommended reading for every managing partner.

  • Leadership for Lawyers
    by Herb Rubenstein

    Leading for Lawyers ($39.95, ABA Publishing) is the first book of its kind written by a lawyer for lawyers, judges, law firm administrators and others in the legal profession and provides practical advice on how to become a more effective leader. Rubenstein takes the reader on a guided tour of the leadership literature of the past fifty years, identifying the various brands of leadership and pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of each.

  • Never Eat Alone - And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time
    by Keith Ferrazzi

    In this best-seller, Ferrazzi writes about how to build a lifelong community of colleagues, contacts and friends without becoming a networking jack-ass. Never Eat Alone ($24.95, Doubleday) is on almost every rainmaker's short list of recommended reading. It makes our short list, too.