Managing Partners Forum

In particular, I valued the breakout sessions, which allowed for informal conversations on jointly shared issues.

Kenneth W. Dodge, Esq.
Lewis Longman & Walker, PA - West Palm Beach, Florida


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White Papers

  • 2023 State of the Corporate Law Department
    by Thomson Reuters

    This report is based on interviews with more than 1,500 in-house lawyers and professionals through 2022, and here are a few note-worthy highlights:

    • Sixty-five percent (65%) of corporate legal departments report more matter volume, while fifty-nine percent (59%) say they are working with flat or declining budgets.
    • Regulatory compliance has emerged as the top concern for corporate legal departments.
    • In search of better value and service, work is being shifted among outside firms. We believe that this presents a big opportunity for smaller and midsize firms, which typically offer a much better value proposition than BigLaw.
    This a good report to digest if your firm works (or strives to work) with larger corporations and in-house legal departments.

  • International Review - Fall/Winter 2019 
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    As we know, most lawyers don't like change or risk, yet change surrounds the industry. That means that one of your most important roles as a law firm leader is that of change agent. Twice a year, Patrick publishes a collection of articles in a magazine he calls International Review. The lead article in this issue is "How as a Firm Leader You Can Harness Innovation," which presents 10 decisive actions to help you navigate this challenging issue.

  • International Review – Spring/Summer 2019  
    by Patrick J. McKenna, McKenna Associates, Inc.

    Once again, Patrick has been kind enough to share with us a collection of articles he distributes twice a year in a publication he calls International Review. Patrick consults mostly with AmLaw 200 firms and his thoughts and perspectives are equally helpful to leaders of smaller and mid-size firms, too. Over the years, he has served on the MPF Faculty. The six articles in this issue are:

    • Two Types of Legal Innovation: Type 0 (Substantive Law) and Type 1 (Service Delivery)
    • 32 Strategic Innovation Questions: Basic Building Blocks to Prompt Innovative Action
    • When Your Strategic Plan Needs to Get Implemented
    • A Lucrative Micro-Niche: Digital Transformation Practice
    • A Lucrative Micro-Niche: Esports Practice
    • Leading Requires Understanding Different Working Styles
    This is good stuff, and we encourage you to check it out. 

  • Report of the 2018 NAWL Survey
    on Retention and Promotion of Women in Law Firms  

    by Destiny Peery, JD, PhD

    In our work with smaller and mid-size firms, we find that most have challenges achieving diversity and inclusion. And they are not alone as even the largest US law firms face similar challenges.
    Since the mid-1980s, the majority of law school graduates have been women, yet only 20% of equity partners at AmLaw 200 are women. As they move up the ranks, many opt to take the non-equity partner track, others move to in-house positions and others choose to start families and leave the profession altogether. This report looks at the career paths of women attorneys in the largest US law firms. On the bright side, the report finds that women occupy a higher percentage of leadership roles within their firms. Here are few findings:

    • Twenty percent (20%) of women in AmLaw 200 firms will become equity partners in the course of their legal careers.
    • People of color comprise eight percent (8%) of equity partners, LGBTQ persons stand at two percent (2%) and persons with disabilities comprise just one percent (1%) of law firm owners.
    • Women make up twenty-five percent (25%) of leadership roles in their firms, including twenty-two percent (22%) of firm-wide managing partners, twenty percent (20%) of office managing partners, and twenty-two percent (22%) of practice group leaders.
    The White Paper also reveals strategies and tactics that firms are using to address the issue.

  • International Review – Fall/Winter 2018  
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    Twice a year, Patrick publishes International Review, an electronic magazine that contains four to five thoughtful and inspiring articles for law firm leaders. It’s geared primarily toward BigLaw but highly applicable to smaller and mid-size firms, too. The articles in this issue are:

    • Inside the Corridors of Firm Leadership
      This article summarizes the results of a recent survey of large law firm leaders about their leadership roles. Interesting, the results are remarkably similar to what our surveys reveal about leadership roles in smaller and mid-size firms.
    • A Lesson from the Accountants
      What can law firm leaders learn from their counterparts at CPA firms? According to this article, there’s plenty!
    • The Rise of the Micro Niche
      For smaller and mid-size firms, we say there are “riches in niches.” How about taking it a step further and creating an even more specialized “micro niche?”
    • What Firms Need to Do to Prepare for the Future
      This article examines long-term trends in the legal market, including the impact of the Big 4 CPA firms, as well as differentiation, client development and compensation issues.
    • When You Need to Replace a Practice Leader
      These are important roles and it’s critically important to appoint committed and effective firm leaders to serve. Pulling the trigger to make a change is not always easy.
    We thank Patrick for sharing the current issue of International Review with our readers.

  • The State of Law Firm Leadership 
    by Patrick J. McKenna and David J. Parnell

    The role of law firm maning partner is like no other and they teach you little about how to lead lawyers in law school. This report summarizes the results of a 30-question survey in which 86 firm leaders from BigLaw participated. It asks about priorities, job descriptions and time spent in the leadership roles. Its findings are relevant for leaders of smaller and mid-size firms, as well. Here are a few highlights:

    • Fifty-six percent (56%) reported that the leadership role was a full-time job.
    • Sixty-seven percent (67%) said they have no formal job description.
    • Thirty-seven percent (37%) said they were the only candidate for the position.
    • Strategic planning, initiating change, and responsibility for firm performance are what firm leaders enjoy most about the leadership role.
    • Day-to-day administration, thorny people issues, and inter-office travel is where they spend most of their time.
    Regular readers of The MPF Weekly know where we stand on job descriptions and where firm leaders should be spending their time.

  • International Review - Spring/Summer 2018
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    Twice a year, Patrick publishes and distributes a 24-30-page magazine he calls International Review. It typically contains four to five thoughtful and inspiring articles for law firm leaders, designed mostly for BigLaw. For many years, he’s been kind enough to share an electronic version of the magazine with our readers. The articles in this issue are:

    • Legal Trends of Predictions for 2018
      Excerpts from a meeting of legal firm leaders last December in New York called the International Legal Think-Tank.
    • How Conventional Strategizing Can Be a Waste of Time
      Most firm leaders recognize the importance of a firm-wide strategic plan, yet many firms struggle with successful implementation. Perhaps firms should look at a new way to go about it.
    • Leadership Transition Misfires
      A successful leadership transition occurs with proper planning and the predecessor’s willingness to let go.
    • Should Your Leadership Build a Brand?
      A collaborative article written with Forbes columnist David Parnell suggesting that any firm leader can create a perception of confidence, competence and success.
    • Evolution of Blockchain and its Impact on Your Clients
      Have you heard of the “block-chain” concept? If not, read this article for an interesting overview of how your firm’s clients may be affected.
    As always, we thank Patrick for sharing his insightful collection of articles with readers of The MPF Weekly.

  • International Review – Fall/Winter 2017 
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    Twice a year, Patrick publishes and distributes a collection of articles in a 24-page e-magazine he calls International Review. Although geared primarily toward “BigLaw,” its content is also timely and relevant for smaller and mid-size law firms. In this edition, the most important article for you to read is “Law Firm Strategic Planning: A Report on the State of the Art. Even though 97% of AmLaw 200 firms have strategic plans, Patrick observes that far too many of them suffer from a self-inflicted phenomenon call “SPOTS”…an acronym for “Strategic Planning on the Shelf.” To avoid that situation at your firm, keep your plan simple, realistic and achievable. Importantly, the plan must also involve partner accountability. 

    Here are his four main points for successful strategic planning:

    • Too many firms are focusing attention on internal (not external) issues.
    • More firms need to involve clients in their strategic planning process.
    • Implementation improves when more partners are involved in the process.
    • More rigorous management attention and individual accountability will improve implementation.
    At MPF, we believe that every law firm – regardless of size and practice mix – needs a plan.

  • International Review – Spring/Summer 2017
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    Patrick and I see eye-to-eye on many of the issues law firm leaders confront in these challenging times. As always, he delivers a fine set of articles in the current edition of International Review. Here are the topics covered in this 26-page report:

    • The Burning Issues Facing Firm Leaders in 2017
    • Get Your Clients to do your Talking
    • Becoming the Firm of Choice: It's All about the Implementation
    • Leaders Get the Behavior You Tolerate
    • The Five Challenging Paradoxes of Firm Leadership
    • When a Firm Leader Hangs up the Crown
    We encourage you to take a look.

    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.

  • International Review – Fall 2016 
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    As always, Patrick delivers another set of terrific articles in the current edition of International Review. The magazine runs 24-pages and we thank him for sharing it with us. The articles in this issue are:

    • Your Guide to Charting a Strategic Direction for Your Practice Groups
    • The Underproductive Lawyer: Addressing Underperformance Issues
    • Effective Leaders Are Not Necessarily Nice!
    • Solving the “Commitment Drift” Frustration
    Each article dispenses practical, straight-forward guidance on how to deal with some vexing issues for many firm leaders.

  • International Review - Spring 2016
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    Twice a year, Patrick McKenna distributes a collection of articles in a magazine he calls International Review. Each issue includes five or six thoughtful articles – which often focus on leadership transition and succession planning issues – that are spot-on for today’s law firm leader. The current issue is no exception and includes these five articles:

    • Bringing Your Strategy Process Back to Life
    • Strategies for Overcoming Obstacles to Change
    • The Disruption in Transitioning to a New Firm Leader
    • Analyzing a Leadership Candidate’s Strengths
    • The Distorted View that Some May Offer
    We highly recommend that you take a few minutes to review these articles and print out one or two for future reference.

  • International Review - Fall 2015
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    Twice a year, MPF Faculty member Patrick McKenna publishes a collection of articles and insights in a magazine he calls International Review. Although directed primarily toward leaders at BigLaw, his articles are timely and relevant for leaders of smaller and mid-size firms, as well. Here are the titles in the current edition:

    • Firm Strategy: Understanding Industry Dynamics
    • Schedule Time for Strategic Thinking
    • The Value in Developing a Leadership Brand
    • Announcing: The Changing of the Guard
    • McKenna on How New Managing Partners Can Avoid Being “Blindsided”
    • How Effective Leaders Delegate
    • Why Law Firms Need Non-Executive Directors

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Leadership At Its Strongest:
    What Successful Managing Partners Do  

    by Robert Lees, August Aquila, Derek Klyhn

    This is one of the better White Papers we're read in recent years on firm leadership, and we highly recommend that you take a few minutes to check it out, as well. August and his colleagues assert that effective managing partners provide compelling direction, gain commitment among partners, appoint the right leaders to execute strategic objectives, and lead by personal example. It's good stuff and we agree with most everything it says.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The State of Law Firm Leadership  
    by Patrick J. McKenna

    In November 2010, Patrick McKenna published this six-page report consisting of survey results to a series of questions posed to 92 leaders of law firms with more than 100 lawyers. Its findings are very consistent with data we collect using audience polling technology at our conferences, and as reported in our MPF White Papers. For example, 72% of managing partners do not have formal job descriptions and 87% don't have a formal leadership succession plan in place, according to Patrick.

  • 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.

  • Practical Advice to Improve Your Firm's Profitability
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    From the inaugural issue of the Managing Partner Forum newsletter, firm leaders reveal their top management concerns and thoughts on strategic planning. Our response? It's time to assume the role of CEO in order to make the firm profitable.