Managing Partners Forum

Since the majority of our firm’s business is referred by other law firms, The Forum is a great place to catch up with our clients while also learning from my peers. It’s a terrific program.

Howard J. Berlin, Esq.
Berger Singerman - Miami, Florida


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  • The Future of the Law Office Will be Social
    by Jordan Furlong, Law21

    We have admired Jordan’s work for many years. His insights are spot on, and here is what he has to say about the law office of the future: 

    • Accept that the good ole days are gone.
    • Create flexible, communal workspace to attract people from their homes.
    • Eliminate dedicated private offices for people in the office fewer than eights days per month.
    • Make your office a destination, replete with cafes, ping-pong tables, and lots of fun activities.
    • Fire the bad actors (the people who chase others away), before they kill your firm. 
    Strong advice for law firm leaders in a changing world.

  • Does Your BHAG Inspire Your Company to Achieve Greatness? 
    by Chris Cosper, Rythm Systems

    As you know, we believe every law firm should invest in a Firm-wide Strategic Plan that articulates the firm's five-year vision and three one-year goals to get there. Short of that, why not rally your firm around a "BHAG", which is one single vision that aligns your firm and its people? By the way, "BHAG" stands for "Big Hairy Audacious Goal," a term first coined in the legendary business book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. In her five-page article, Cosper covers three main points:

    • Know Thyself: Discover Your Hedgehog, 
    • Set the Right Mark: Tips for Creating a Great BHAG, and
    • Grow with Purpose: Put Your BHAG to Work.
    It's a great article with many lessons for law firm leaders.

  • What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession 
    by Will Hornsby, The Law Office of William Hornsby

    Our MPF Featured Article is "What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession" by our long-time friend and colleague, Will Hornsby. For many years, Will was Ethics Counsel at the American Bar Association where he became the country's leading expert on the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct. He offers this article as a tribute to Bob Denney, a true legend and pioneer in law firm marketing. Bob sadly passed away on October 19th. He will be missed. 

  • Collection of Articles  
    by Ida Abbott and August Aquila

    We feature a collection of articles by Ida Abbott and August Aquila, two faculty members at The "Virtual" MPF Fall Symposium held earlier this month. Our MPF Featured Articles are:

    We encourage you to take a look at these resources and circulate the ones you like among your partners...especially if succession is among your firm's current priorities.

  • Want to Move Tech Forward? Make it Part of Your Strategic Planning
    by Mark Brewer, Legal Management

    This is the lead article in this month’s issue of Legal Management magazine published by the Association of Legal Administrators. The article includes quotes from Robert Young, Managing Partner at English Lucas Priest & Owsley (ELPOLaw) in Bowling Green, Kentucky; and Neil Kardos, a partner at Harrity & Harrity, an IP boutique in Northern Virginia. Both John Harrity and Bob Young have been participating in MPF programs for many years.

  • Vertically Integrated Legal Service
    by Neville Eisenberg and Richard Susskind

    This article by Neville Eisenberg and Richard Susskind was recently published by Harvard Law School. It is a short article and raises some very interesting points about future business models for law firms. The authors challenge us to think beyond the “old law firm” model and consider a more full-scale vertical integration of the practice of law – a true transformational and fundamental change in approach to the delivery of legal services. 

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Top 20 Strategies for ’21 
    The MPF 2020 Virtual Conference 
    Points the Way to Law Firm of the Future 

    by Managing Partner Forum

    Our MPF Featured Article “20 Top Strategies in ‘21” highlights many of the discussion points from The MPF Virtual Conference held earlier this month. One hundred ninety-five (195) managing partners and firm leaders participated, and we plan to present more virtual programming in 2021. Here are a few article highlights:

    • Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste
      Resist the temptation to revert to “business as usual” as we emerge (eventually) from the current pandemic.
    • Tune into Your People, Especially Young Partners
      Where do they want to work? How virtual does your firm want to be?
    • Reallocate Your Firm’s Marketing Resources
      Present client-focused webinars. Refine your social media strategy. Train your lawyers how to participate effectively in virtual meetings and conferences

  • How to Make Working from Home Work for You
    by Dr. Sharon Meit Abrahams, Legal Talent Advisors

    Sharon dispenses some great advice in this two-pager, including the importance of finding and sticking to a routine. After having served as Director of Practice Development at three AmLaw 25 law firms, Sharon has recently formed Legal Talent Advisors, a consultancy to help law firms attract and retain talent. She has been on the MPF Faculty for more than 15 years. 

  • Five Practical Tips for Working from Home &
    Seven Helpful Tips for Communicating with Clients

    by Leah Nelson, Nelson Leadership

    Leah offers two short articles that will also help your folks adjust to their new work environments. Leah is a California-based consultant who specializes in organizational leadership. We had the pleasure of working with her earlier this year and we share similar philosophies and approached about law firm leadership and management.

  • 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. 

  • Are Law Firms Sustainable? It's the Model that Matters  
    by Mark A. Cohen, Forbes Magazine

    This article sure grabbed our attention when it appeared in Forbes Magazine on August 19th. It ponders the question: Which law firm--or legal service provider-- models will thrive in the digital age? (SPOILER ALERT: It's the client-centric, collaborative, data-driven, tech-enabled, multi-disciplinary, diverse, agile, constantly improving, scaled, capitalized, and digitally transformed ones!)

  • Is Cloud The Right Option for Your Law Firm? 
    Seven Common Myths and The Facts You Need to Know  

    by Morris Tabush, Tabush Group

    According to recent MPF surveys, two of three mid-size US law firms have moved some or all of their IT systems to the Cloud. And one of our most-read articles in many months discussed the ethical considerations of cloud computing for lawyers and law firms. Among the myths Morris addresses in the article: 

    • Cloud is way too unreliable.
    • Cloud applications are inferior to server-based applications.
    • Cloud is not secure.
    • Cloud is not accessible when Internet is down.
    • Cloud is mostly for solos and small firms.
    Morris is the founder of Tabush Group, and was on the faculty at our MPF Leadership Conference in May. 

  • The Ethics of Cloud Computing for Lawyers 
    by Nicole Black

    Cloud computing is becoming increasingly commonplace, with 46% of smaller and mid-size law firms now using the cloud to store most of their data and IT systems. Another 34% say they’re moving in that direction. Along with cost savings, flexibility and agility, cloud computing presents many ethical issues when lawyers seek to store confidential client data on servers to which third parties have access. 

  • What’s Hot, What’s Not: National Practice Trends 2019
    by Ed Finkel, Wisconsin Lawyer 

    In this thought-provoking article, Wisconsin Lawyer magazine carries on the annual “What’s Hot, What’s Not “ report published by Bob Denney for more than 20 years. In fact, we featured it in The MPF Weekly every December for more than a decade. The article covers a variety of topics important to smaller and mid-size law firms including strategic planning, talent development, business development, leadership and technology. Its contributors include:

    • Sharon Nelson – Sensei Enterprises
    • George Psiharis – Clio
    • John Remsen, Jr. – TheRemsenGroup
    • Sally Schmidt – Schmidt Marketing
    • Rochelle Washington – DC Bar Association
    • Ryan Whitacre – Major Lindsey & Africa

  • The Path to Partnership in Small to Mid-Sized Firms  
    by David Cruickshank

    BigLaw, with their highly paid recruiting and professional development staffs, is doing a pretty fair job articulating and enforcing the criteria to become an equity partner. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many smaller and mid-sized firms. In this brief article, David does a nice job outlining some of the best practices in this critically important area. Here are four of them:

    • Clearly Articulate the Criteria for Partnership in Writing,
    • Develop an Effective Annual Evaluation Process,
    • Start Leadership and Business Development Training Early, and
    • Have a Plan for Those Who Won’t Make It.
    How is your firm doing at grooming its future owners?

  • 13 Things Your Firm Must Do Today
    to Attract and Retain Tomorrow’s Lawyers 

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    This short article (about 1,200 words) sets out what I’ve learned over the years about what law firms must do to attract and retain younger lawyers. Like it or not, today’s younger lawyers tend to want different things from their legal careers than their senior counterparts. Here are four of the things we recommend that law firms do:

    • Establish and Communicate Clear Expectations
    • Set Forth a Clear Path to Partnership
    • Reward Performance, not Seniority
    • Be Selective in Hiring – Use Psychological Assessments
    Check out the article to read all 13 of them.

  • We Need to Talk:
    Facilitating Retirement by Helping Senior Partners Prepare

    by Ida Abbott

    In many smaller and mid-size law firms, more than half of the owners are in their 60s and 70s. They typically generate most of the firm’s business. They handle leadership and management responsibilities. And they possess decades of wisdom, knowledge and skills. Yet, most smaller and mid-size firms have no formal succession plans in place. And 70% of first generation law firms do not survive their founding partners.

    As we all know, succession planning is important if your firm is to survive and prosper in the coming years. It involves difficult – often emotional – issues for many firms. Too often, these issues are never discussed, and succession is neglected.

    Ida’s four-page article eloquently addresses some of the challenging issues with succession planning and the retirement of senior partners. We encourage you to read it if you’re dealing with succession and transition issues at your firm.

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

    Your law firm runs on computers and, over time, your firm’s IT systems become outdated and security risks develop. Therefore, it’s critical that your firm undertakes a periodic evaluation and examination, so make sure all systems are working properly and risks are not left unchecked for extended periods of time.

    In many cases, you’re relying on your COO, your IT Director and/or your outside service provider to manage the situation. However, that reliance does not replace your ownership of this responsibility. As the firm’s chief executive officer, you are the person ultimately responsible to ensure that the IT systems and controls are aligned with the firm’s goals and legal requirements and are being managed, maintained, updated and kept current.

    This short article, written especially for managing partners, outlines what an IT audit covers and the questions you should be asking your COO and/or IT Director on a regular basis.

  • Law Firm MDPs (Multi-Disciplinary Practices) and New Delivery Models
    by Susan Saltonstall Duncan

    In the US (except for the District of Columbia), non-law firms are prohibited from providing legal services and non-lawyers are prohibited from law firm ownership. In the meantime, law firms in Canada, Europe and elsewhere are taking advantage of their more lenient rules and regulations that allow for MDPs in their jurisdictions. Up until now, the ABA has repeatedly struck down MDPs in the US, but are things likely to change in the foreseeable future?

    In this set of articles, Susan and her team break the subject into three areas:

    • Part One: A Primer
      This article provides some background on the topic, including the ABA’s historic position on MDPs.
    • Part Two: Subsidiaries
      This article discusses wholly-owned law firm subsidiaries, such as lobbying, wealth management, and real estate title services.
    • Part Three: Integrated Multi-Disciplinary Practices
      This one presents a much more comprehensive, integrated approach to provide a full array of professional services to clients, including recent efforts undertaken by Hogan Lovells and Duane Morris.
    Although some large firms are testing the waters, we believe that fully integrated MDPS are not likely to be widely embraced by smaller and mid-size law firms in the foreseeable future.

    Click here for Part One – A Primer

    Click here for Part Two – Subsidiaries

    Click here for Part Three – Integrated Multi-Disciplinary Practices

    Does the Traditional Law Firm Business Model
    Fit the Needs of Clients, or Even Most Lawyers, Anymore?

    by Roger E. Barton, Esq., Barton LLP

    Adhering to the concept that bigger is not always better, Roger leads a team of former “BigLaw” partners who’ve built an exceptional 30-lawyer firm in New York, one of the most competitive legal markets in the world. They are exceptionally client-focused and perform highly sophisticated work.

    Roger’s article examines what tomorrow’s lawyers and law firms must do to adapt to the changing marketplace. Noting that BigLaw’s ability to change is akin to “turning an aircraft carrier,” he sees significant opportunities for smaller and mid-size firms to emerge as the real winners.

  • Law Firm Strategic Planning and Deployment:
    A Report on the State of the Art

    by David J. Parnell

    Although we’re seeing a gradual uptick in law firm strategic planning, fewer than half of mid-size law firms have them. Of those with a plan, firm leaders report improved firm performance despite so-so implementation efforts. Click here to read an article that John Sterling and I wrote for Legal Management magazine a few years ago on this topic.

    So how is BigLaw doing when it comes to strategic planning? In this article, we learn that although almost every large US law firm has a strategic plan, they struggle with implementation, too. Here are some of the finding in the article:

    • Ninety-seven percent (97%) of BigLaw (the AmLaw 200 firms) have a firm-wide strategic plan.
    • Fifty-seven percent (57%) described their plans as “brief and targeted on a few priorities.”
    • Generally, bigger firms have more complex and ambitious plans.
    • Sixty-five percent (65%) collect input from practice group leaders. Fifty-three percent (53%) gather input from all partners. Fifty percent (50%) hire an outside consultant to assist with the process.
    • Yet BigLaw struggles with implementation with only three percent (3%) of firm leaders indicating that their firms had achieved “almost all” of their planning objectives.
    As you know, we believe that every law firm, regardless of size and practice mix, needs a firm-wide strategic plan that sets forth where the firm wants to go and how it plans to get there. Importantly, we advise firms to keep the plan simple, realistic and achievable focusing attention on just three short-term goals and objectives.

  • Law Firm Succession Planning:
    The Future is Now so Make a Plan

    by Eilene Spear and Jennifer Schaller, The National Law Review

    In December, we published MPF Insight (see below), a report that summarizes results of our Leadership & Governance Survey and presents recommendations to law firm leaders. Since then, The National Law Review has written a series of four articles presenting its analysis of and commentary about the report. The final installment covers succession planning, an often neglected aspect of law firm management. Consider the following:

    • For 63% of law firms, more than 50% of firm revenue is generated by lawyers older than 60 years.
    • 30-40% of lawyers in private practice have begun the retirement process.
    • 70% of first generation law firms do not survive their founding partners.
    • 22% of firm leaders say they are grooming a successor for the leadership role.
    If you and your partners care about legacy and the long-term sustainability of your firm, succession planning should be an ongoing process, and planning around the retirements of your key people should start much earlier than you think. Now is the time to start planning for the future.

  • Competing in a Changing Marketplace
    by Robert A. Young, Esq.

    Bob thinks a lot about law firm leadership. He’s former Chair of the ABA’s Law Practice Division and the ABA’s Diversity Committee. He also served as Managing Partner of his law firm, English Lucas Priest Owsley (ELPO Law, for short), for many years. In these roles, he thinks a lot about the unparalleled changes occurring in the legal profession, and he writes about what firm leaders can and should be doing to encourage change and drive innovation within their firms.

    “In many ways, we’re our own worst enemy when it comes to advancing our law firms and in keeping up with what clients want and need,” says Bob. “We are truly in a change or die scenario. The sooner law firms realize this, the better prepared they’ll be to thrive.”

    This is a strong, powerful article written by one of your peers. It should grab your attention.

  • What's Hot What's Not - Annual Practice Trends 2016
    by Dianne Molvig

    We received some nice press in Wisconsin Lawyer magazine commenting on Bob Denney’s most recent edition of “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Industry.”

  • What BigLaw Can Learn from Law & Order
    by Jordan Furlong

    The major accounting firms sell their brands. Not so at the big law firms, where the individuals are the brand. Consider how attractive law firm leaders would find a firm whose brand – its name, its systems, its process, its procedures, its consistency – trumps that of its individual lawyers. A firm that thrives despite partner defections because the individual lawyers follow a script orchestrated by senior management. Are “lawyer-proof law firms” the wave of the future?  

  • Law Firm Leaders are Optimistic going into 2016 
    by American Lawyer Media

    Managing partners of the nation’s largest law firms are bullish about 2016 according to this annual survey of leaders of AmLaw 200 law firms. One-hundred four 104 firm leaders participated and were asked about overall conditions of the legal industry and their firm’s outlook for the coming year. This five-page article discusses survey’s findings. Among the highlights:

    • Thirteen percent (13%) of firm leaders are “very optimistic” about 2016. Another sixty-eight percent (68%) are “somewhat optimistic.”
    • Sixty-eight percent (68%) predict the US economy will maintain its current pace of growth in 2016.
    • While eighty-eight percent (88%) of firm leaders say their firms will increase their total lawyer headcount, seventy-five percent (75%) anticipate asking some senior partners to leave.
    • Eighty-eight percent (88%) project that billing rates will remain flat in 2016 compared to 2015, the highest percentage since 2009.
    • Seventy percent (70%) of managing partners are concerned that many partners are staying too long.
    • On average, fourteen percent (14%) of firm revenue is achieved through alternative fee arrangements, the same percentage as the last few years.
    What’s your firm’s outlook for 2016? We hope it’s looking good!

  • Ten Practice Management
    Challenges for Mid-Size Law Firms 

    by Edward C. Winslow, III, Esq.

    Ed has served as Managing Partner of Brooks Pierce, a 90-lawyer firm with three North Carolina office locations, since 2000. He focuses on law practice management and strategic leadership, and is especially interested in the evolution of the legal profession. In the face of unprecedented change, he likes MidLaw’s chances and discusses ten challenges for which they are well-positioned, including:

    • Technology,
    • Talent Management,
    • Change Management, and
    • Globalization.

  • Five Trends
    Clients Want You to Jump On

    by Michael B. Rynowecer

    In this short article, Michael shares five emerging trends he’s been seeing in the marketplace for legal services. These early seeds of change present new opportunities for those law firms that act now and seize the moment. Here are the five trends he discusses in the article:

    • Clients want law firms to bring an institutional mindset to the relationship.
    • Law firms are beginning to teach associates the “soft- skills” of business development and client service.
    • More law firms are implementing client feedback programs to drive change. (We’ve been recommending client feedback programs for years!)
    • Clients want succession plans as senior lawyers working on their matters move toward retirement.
    • Clients want stability in their relationships with outside counsel and openly express their concerns about lateral movement.
    Michael contends that these five "early trends" will snowball into big trends, and that opportunities abound for those firms that get a jump on the competition.

  • Ten Ways Small
    and Mid-Sized Firms Can Compete

    by Bruce W. Marcus

    Can smaller and mid-sized law firms compete successfully with BigLaw in today’s turbulent legal market? History says yes, and we believe they can. This short article by the late Bruce Marcus sets forth ten ways to go about it, including:

    •  Focus on the Business Side of Your Firm,
    •  Modify Your Firm’s Culture,
    •  Learn to Market Effectively, and
    •  Think Incrementally.

  • 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.

  • Legacy vs. Mercenary:
    Which Type of Firm Is Yours?

    by August J. Aquila

    This article discusses the difference between legacy law firms – those where the firm comes first and where there’s sharing, teamwork and investment in the future – and mercenary firms – those that operate more like a collection of sole practitioners sharing office space. August believes that law firms that lean toward legacy are better off in the long run. We agree. In the article, he offers suggestions on how you can move your firm in the right direction.

  • Planning for the Future:
    When it Comes to Succession Planning,
    Law Firms Have Plenty of Room for Improvement

    by John Sterling and John Remsen, Jr.

    If you’ve been following us over the years, you know that we regularly survey firm leaders about topics relating to law firm leadership and management. And we consistently find that succession planning - in areas such as firm leadership, legal knowledge and expertise, and client relationships - is among the most neglected aspects in the business side of running the firm. In fact, most firm leaders give their firms poor marks in this most important area. In this article, we highlight finding of our most recent survey and offer best practices for succession planning and management. Here are few highlights of the article:

    • Seventy percent (70%) of first generation firms do not survive their founding partners
    • Elect a Deputy Managing Partner and charge him/her with important firm-building projects
    • Create client teams and industry practice groups with both senior and junior lawyers actively involved
    • Require senior lawyers to present annual transition plans at the outset of each year
    These are good ideas to transition a law firm into the future. What is your firm doing to ensure its long-term success?

  • Strategic Planning:
    It's Not Just For "BigLaw" Anymore

    by John Sterling and John Remsen, Jr.

    You may recall that, back in March, our MPF Leadership Matters online survey asked about strategic planning and the keys to successful implementation. The results of that survey serve as the basis for our article that appears in the June issue of ALA’s Legal Management magazine.

    The bottom line: More firms are embracing strategic planning than ever before – and they’re seeing positive results from their efforts.

  • A Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
    The Challenging Market for Mid-Size Law Firm Services

    by Peer Monitor - Thomson Reuters

    Although the overall demand for legal services in the US has been flat (at best) since 2008, there are two ways that mid-size firms have outperformed BigLaw according to this report published in late March.

    First, the demand growth for midsize firms is less volatile than for BigLaw and, second, realization rates are significantly better for mid-size firms than for AmLaw 100 firms.

    The report also finds that there are opportunities for mid-size firms to capitalize on the increasing willingness of in-house counsel to feed work to smaller and mid-size law firms.

  • Why Lawyers Are Still Waiting for the Future
    by Aric Press, Editor-in-Chief, American Lawyer Media

    As Larry Richard’s extensive research reveals, lawyers hate change. They’re not too wild about risk either. And the characteristics that make them really good lawyers tend to make them not-so-good business people. But, as we all know, change is all around us. Globalization, technology, demanding clients and competition are having, and will continue to have, dramatic impacts on the business of law.

    In this article, Aric reflects on the future of law and suggests that the wave of change affecting the legal profession has just begun. Is your firm ready?

  • Reaching New Heights
    Midsize Firms Climb into BigLaw's Territory

    by Roy Strom, Chicago Lawyer

    Two MPF Advisory members – Mitchell Roth of Much Shelist and Ray Werner of Arnstein Lehr - are featured in this article appearing in the March 2014 issue of Chicago Lawyer. The article discusses a dramatic shift in the number and importance of legal work that traditionally went to BigLaw that is now finding its way to smaller and midsize firms. The reason? Not only a significantly lower rate structure, but also more flexibility and improved service. The article mentions a recent LexisNexis survey analyzing the legal spend of corporate America and we’ll feature the survey in a future MPF Weekly Update. 

  • Ten Questions To Ask Your IT Director
    About Your Law Firm’s Cyber Security

    by Sharon D. Nelson, Esq. and John W. Simek

    We’ve recently seen several high-profile cases where the US Government, along with companies like CitiBank, Target, and American Express, have fallen victim to cyber criminals. There have also been a few instances involving prominent law firms. Can you imagine having to tell your clients that your firm’s data has been breached?  

    So, just how vulnerable is your law firm? To find out, read this article. Then schedule a meeting with your IT Director to make sure your firm is doing all it can to assure a safe and secure working environment.

  • 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.

  • Creating a Strategic Business Plan  
    by Pat Murphy, LawyersUSA

    Along with Robert Young of Lucas English in Bowling Green, Kentucky, I was featured in this article that appeared in a recent issue of LawyersUSA.  In it, I talk about research we've conducted at MPF affirming that law firms that develop and implement strategic plans outperform those that do not. 

  • Succession for Sustainability
    by James D. Cotterman

    Of the dozen or so characteristics of today's most successful law firms, succession planning is perhaps the most often neglected. Yet, succession should be an important element in many firm-wide strategic plans. Succession can be viewed in the context of firm leadership, client relationships and organizational involvement. It involves identifying and grooming future firm leaders, and rewarding retiring partners for successful transition, not just personal productivity.

    In this thoughtful and well-researched article, Jim writes that law firms would benefit greatly from long-term planning and that succession - critical to sustainability - should command leadership's full attention. We couldn't agree more.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Law Firm Succession Planning 
    by LexisNexis

    Our friends at LexisNexis have published a series of papers on best practices in the “business of law.” This one looks at best practices in the accounting profession that can be helpful to law firms, especially smaller firms.

  • Your Firm's Future
    Depends on its Succession Plan

    by Feeley & Driscoll, P.C. - CPAs and Business Consultants

    This short article provides some practical guidance on how to transition the role of managing partner through thoughtful policies procedures to encourage a smooth, efficient, multi-year transition of leadership.

  • 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."

  • Is There a Sea Change toward AFAs?
    In-House Counsel Give It a Solid "Maybe" 

    by Inside Counsel

    Over half of in-house counsel - 56%, to be precise - say there has been a "sea change" in how fees are paid to outside counsel. Prompted by the pressure to reduce the overall cost of legal services and fueled by the ACC's Value Challenge, the time seems right to affect change. Yet, the gap remains wide between the perception of fundamental transformation and the actual practice.

  • 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.  

  • Isn't It Time That Your Firm Develops a Strategic Plan?
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Do you and your partners have a written, cohesive firm strategy? Or are you merely sharing office space with other sole practitioners? Strategic planning is the key differentiator, but it's not for the faint of heart.

  • Study: Location, Firm Size Key to Billing Rates 
    by Ross Todd,

    Here's an interesting study that puts law firm billing practices under the microscope. It examines invoices received by 36 large corporate clients finds that location and firm size - not lawyer expertise - are the biggest determinants of a lawyer's hourly rate. It also concludes that 75% of proposed rate hikes are accepted, and that a lawyer with the title of "partner" can charge up to $100 more per hour than an "associate" with the same experience.

  • What's Really Going On In Today's Legal Departments 
    by Lauren Williamson

    Good news for smaller and mid-sized firms, according to this article which appears in the current issue of Inside Counsel magazine. According to a recent survey of over 550 in-house counsel, 65% say they have retained more smaller, regional firms over the past two years. The reason? Lower price tag for legal services. But there is even better news. They say they will continue using smaller firms, even after the economy improves.   

  • 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.

  • Keep an Eye on Your Firm's Billing Practices
    by Law 360

    According to research conducted by Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, 55% of lawyers in private practice admit to overbilling on occasion. The temptation only becomes more severe as there is less work to be dome. Don't let this happen at your firm! Not only is the practice unethical, it may also cause irreparable damage to one of your firm's most valuable assets - its reputation.

  • 15 Recession-Response Tips
    by Linda Oligschlaeger

    Recession or not, this article from Law Practice magazine includes fifteen really good ideas for lawyers of law firms, regardless of firm size or practice mix. Many of Linda's suggestions focus on client service and business development. None of them involve rocket science.

  • 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. 

  • New Report Shows Signs of Life in Law Firm Merger Market
    by Karen Sloan

    The law firm merger market is starting to reawaken according to separate reports published by Hildebrandt International and Altman Weil. Although both reports show that firms aren’t ready to resume the highly aggressive growth strategies contemplated just 18 months ago, the market has started to heat up again. However, "it has turned from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market when it comes to acquiring small firms,” says Altman Weil consultant Bill Brennan.

  • A Broken Business Model
    by Joel Henning

    Henning asks "Will it take a revolution to change the way law firms operate?" Will today's current economic crisis force law firms to rethink the old model of annual hourly rate increases? Radical ideas may not only require a change in business model, but a change to the code of professional responsibility.

  • Dealing with the Downturn: How Law Firms Can Meet the Challenges and Exploit the Opportunities
    by Stephen Armstrong, John Claydon, Tony King and Norman Letalik

    This two-part Lex Mundi article focuses on what law firm leaders can do to deal with the downturn through both aggressive law firm economics and strengthening client relationships. The suggested practices can help firms survive the downturn and strategically position themselves for the recovery.

  • Legal Strategy 101: It's Time for Law Firms to Re-Think Their Business Model 
    by Wharton School of Business

    This fascinating article from the Wharton Business School asserts that the global recession is forcing law firms to change the way they do business. 

  • Implementation: The Gutsy Challenge of Strategic Planning
    by Peter A. Giuliani

    A great article for firm leaders about the implementation side of the strategic planning process. Giuliani says fuzzy goals, a lack of genuine commitment and an unwillingness to deal with tough issues often hamper successful implementation. 

  • Will Fate Plan Your Future or Will You?
    by Howard L. Mudrick

    If your firm has never gone through the strategic planning process, this is the article for you! It starts off explaining the basic "whys" and "hows" of planning, but goes deeper into the importance of focusing externally as well as internally. Mudrick was a member of the MPF Faculty for several years before joining Phoenix-based Jennings Strauss as COO in 2008.  

  • 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.