Managing Partners Forum

I thoroughly enjoyed participating in this year's Conference. Thank you for your enthusiasm and leadership.

Richard N. Sherrill, Esq.
Clark Partington - Pensacola, Florida


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Other Resources

  • The Law Firm of the Future  
    by John Remsen, Jr. for the North and South Carolina Chapters of ALA

    An MPF Webinar Originally Broadcast on February 25, 2021

    Presented and facilitated by John Remsen, Jr., this 60-minute session takes a look at the future of the legal profession as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. During this fast-paced, interactive session, John shares plenty of recently collected benchmarking data on how law firms are adjusting to the current situation, and provides his thoughts and perspectives about how law firms are planning for the future. We discuss firm culture, marketing and business development, training and development, technology and much more!

    Click here for On-Demand Webinar.
    Click here for Handout Materials.

  • The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Is Here. Now What?  
    by Association of Legal Administrators

    A Special ALA Webinar Originally Broadcast on March 12, 2020

    Pillsbury's David Klein, a Partner specializing in insurance, and Kathleen Pearson, Pillsbury’s Chief Human Resources Officer, will offer practical approaches law firms can take in this uncertain time. They will address business insurance, workers' compensation, risk management and crisis communication and leadership. Click here for the recorded webinar.

  • ALA's New Coronavirus Webpage 
    by Association of Legal Administrators

    The ALA has created a robust webpage featuring the latest information that can help you make fact-based decisions about topics like workplace preparation, transmission prevention and business continuity.

  • The Handbook:
    Law and Accounting Networks and Associations

    by Stephen J. McGarry, Association of International Law Firm Networks

    We're a big proponent of law firm networks. Of course, the keys are to find the right one and then get actively involved. If your firm has found the right network, you're confidently able to serve clients almost anywhere on the planet; you're able to share and learn best practices with other similar, non-competing law firms; and you're likely to enjoy a steady stream of inbound referrals. This handbook is an invaluable resource if your firm is researching such organizations. It profiles more than 75 networks, and includes full contact information for each one.

  • The Future of Law Practice  Management  
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    A 60-minute Webinar for ALA presented on July 17th, 2019

    Each year, The Managing Partner Forum conducts several surveys about issues important to law firms and their leadership. In April 2019, we surveyed 167 managing partners and law firm leaders about their leadership and governance models. At the MPF 2018 and 2019 Leadership Conferences, we deployed audience polling technology to capture data from 100 managing partners and firm leaders about what their firms are doing to invest in the future. In late 2017, we partnered with the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) to survey Chief Operating Officers and Executive Directors, in which 254 law firms participated.

    In this timely, fast-paced session, John highlights the key findings of these and other recent surveys, providing his thoughts and insights along the way. 

    Click here to hear the Webinar.
    Click here for handout materials.

  • Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC)  

    Want to know who’s really driving change in the legal industry? Check out the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium, a relatively new organization that’s already driving impactful and lasting change. These are the MPAs and CPAs imbedded within in-house legal departments, their mission is “to help legal operations professionals and other core corporate legal industry players (e.g. tech providers, law firms, LPO’s, law schools, etc.) optimize the legal service delivery models needed to support the needs of small, medium and large legal departments and government entities.” That means innovation, technology, metrics, process improvement and value-based billing like we’ve never seen before. Get ready for change!

    Click here for CLOC's Website
    Click here to learn about CLOC 2019 Vegas Institute

  • Succession Planning:
    Practical Guidance to Make It Reality in Your Firm 

    by John C. Trimble, Esq. and John Remsen, Jr.

    According to our research, succession planning has emerged as one of the top areas of concern for managing partners of smaller and -mid-size law firms. Generally, we break succession into three main areas — ownership, leadership and client transition — and here’s a snap-shot of how law firms are doing:

    • Forty-four percent (44%) of firm leaders report that their firms have unfunded retirement obligations. Half of them say it’s cause for concern.
    • Forty-eight percent (48%) of firm leaders report that their law firms are not doing a good job on succession planning, in general.
    • Fifty-two percent (52%) report that their firms are not doing a good job handling the retirements of senior partners.
    • When it comes to leadership training for young lawyers, only six percent (6%) of firm leaders say their firms are doing and “excellent” job. Only twenty-one percent (21%) say they’re doing a “good” job.
    Succession planning should start early, and its expectation should be woven into your firm’s culture if you and your partners care about legacy and the long-term sustainability of the enterprise.

  • The MPF 2018 Leadership Conference
    Keynote Presentation – “The State of the Industry”

    by Patrick J. Fuller, ALM Intelligence

    On occasion, we kick off the MPF Leadership Conference with a keynote presentation to set the stage for the Conference. In 2018, we invited Patrick Fuller to present an overview of the legal industry based on data collected by ALM Intelligence. It’s a tough market place out there, full of change and volatility. Here are a few highlights:

    • Sluggish Revenue Growth for BigLaw
      Since 2008, revenue for the AmLaw 200 firms has hovered at a sluggish two percent (2%) growth rate per year. Compare that to 2000-2008, when revenue growth for BigLaw averaged more than ten percent (10%) per year.
    • Effective Hourly Rate Increases Slowing Down as Well
      Since 2008, effective hourly rate increases achieved by the AmLaw 200 firms has also slowed significantly with the ACC Value Challenge, Alternative Service Providers (ASPs) and the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium ( largely responsible.
    • BigLaw Experiencing Declines in Financial Performance
      In fact, nine out of ten (91%) AmLaw 200 firms report a decline in at least one key performance metric over the last three years, including sixty-one percent (61%) reporting declines in total revenue, eighty-three percent (83%) reporting declines in revenue per lawyer (RPL) and eighty-five percent (85%) reporting declines in profit per lawyer (PPL).
    • Corporate American Bringing More of its Legal Work In-House
      Before the downturn, sixty-nine percent (69%) of the legal spend by the Fortune 500 in-house legal departments was performed by outside counsel. In 2017, that percentage shrunk to sixty-one percent (61%), with the trend projected to continue.
    • BigLaw Expanding Aggressively into Major US Markets
      AmLaw 200 firms are expanding aggressively into big legal markets like Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami and Salt Lake City primarily through acquisitions of smaller and mid-size firms. Analysis suggests mixed results. Interestingly, none of the managing partners at this year’s MPF Leadership Conference want their firms to be acquired.
    At MPF, we believe that these and other long-term trends present exciting opportunities for well-run smaller and mid-size firms with focused plans and effective leadership.

  • Looking Forward to the Year Ahead
    Current Issues, Trends and Challenges Facing Today’s Law Firms 

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    A 60-minute Webinar for TAGLaw presented on Sept. 27, 2017

    On September 27, 2017, we presented a 60-minute Webinar for TAGLaw, a global law firm network with 290 member firms in 100 countries. It’s a hard-hitting session covering a variety of important topics for firm leaders, including:

    • Leadership & Governance
    • Strategic Planning
    • Marketing & Business Development
    • Problematic Partners
    • Succession Planning
    • Associate Recruiting & Retention
    • Role of COO/Executive Director
    We’re delighted to be a featured speaker at TAG Alliances’ 2018 International Conference, which will be held October 24-26, 2018.

    Click here for Webinar.
    Click here for handout material.

  • The Benefits and Challenges 
    of Implementing a Firm-wide Strategic Plan

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    A 30-minute podcast with John Remsen, Jr. for Legal Talk Network

    How do attorneys create a strategic business plan for their firm and what are the best ways to implement that plan? In this 30-minute podcast, Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway talk with John Remsen, Jr. about the benefits of creating a firm-wide business plan. It’s critically important that firm leadership recognize that they’re running a business, and that it’s difficult to run a successful business without a plan of where it’s going. Among the highlights:

    • Less than half (40% to be precise) of midsize firms report that they have a written firm-wide strategic plan
    • Of firms with a plan, only 5% grade themselves an “A” for implementation
    • Even so, 90% of firms with a plan attribute improved performance and profitability to the plan
    • The top strategic priorities for mid-size firms in 2016 include marketing and business development; succession planning; firm-first culture; leadership and governance; associate training and development; and dealing with problematic partners
    The podcast concludes with some practical advice to help firm leaders start the strategic planning process.

  • Passing the Torch:
    Preparing Your Firm for the Future through Proactive Succession Planning

    by A Web Seminar by John Remsen, Jr.

    The Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) has been kind enough to allow us to share the recording of a 60-minute Web seminar we presented for its Cyber Chapter on January 19, 2016.

    It’s a sad fact that 70% of first generation law firms do not survive their founding partners. The primary reason? No proactive, orderly succession plan. According to our research, succession planning is the most neglected area of law firm management.

    Senior lawyers often won’t let go and, in many cases, junior lawyers are ill-equipped to assume the responsibilities of firm leadership and management. This 60-minute Web seminar shares our insights into how best to plan for the future, including the departures of valued lawyers and other professionals.

    Click here for recording of Webinar.
    Click here for handout materials.

  • Senior Partner Transition Plan
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Succession planning is a hot issue for many smaller and mid-size law firms – both working with senior lawyers to transition their practices as they move toward retirement and grooming the firm’s future leaders for success. To assist with the former, check out our Senior Lawyer Transition Plan. It looks our five years and includes transitioning client relationships and passing on experience and know-how to younger lawyers.

  • Twelve Steps to Set Up
    Industry Practice Groups at Your Law Firm 

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Stop trying to market your firm’s areas of law! Rather, we recommend that you market your firm’s services through industry practice groups. The reasons are many. They clearly identify target audiences; they promote teamwork and cross-selling. Clients are looking for industry expertise. This five page article tells you how to set them up at your firm.

  • Midsize Market 2015 Legal Industry Update
    by Charlotte Rushton, Managing Director of Thomson Reuters

    This 18-minute podcast analyzes the marketplace for legal services for mid-size law firms in 2015 and the news is pretty darn good. It explores key performance measures and their impact on demand, growth and profitability of midsize law firms in the US. Among the highlights:

    • Key Performance Measures Look Good for MidLaw in 2015
    • Growing Practice Areas: Real Estate and Corporate
    • Flat Practice Areas: Labor/Employment and Litigation
    • Declining Practice Areas: Tax and Bankruptcy
    Citing the research we conducted in partnership with Thomson Reuters earlier this year, it concludes that strategic investments niche practice areas, technology and marketing are really starting to pay off for midsize law firms.  

  • Partner Compensation:
    Keys to Compensating Succession and Client Transition  

    by Andrew Jillson and John Remsen, Jr.

    Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of presenting a 90-minute web seminar for the Center for Competitive Management with Andy Jillson, co-founder of Hayse LLP in Dallas. We’re pleased to feature our handout materials for the session. Among the issues we discussed:

    • The Importance of Succession Planning in Law Firms
    • Why Lawyers and Law Firms Avoid It
    • How and When to Suggest It’s Time to Go
    • Fair and Successful Compensation Agreements
    • The Ugly Downside of Origination Credit for Life
    • Is Yours a Mercenary or Legacy Law Firm?

    Characteristics of Today’s Most Successful Law Firms

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Not long ago, two of the country’s leading law firm consultancies conducted ground-breaking research to identify what highly profitable and fast-growing mid-size firms do that make them so successful. They identified forty mid-size US firms that were significantly out-performing similar firms. They conducted a series of interviews with the leaders and administrators of those firms. Through these in-depth interviews, they identified twelve characteristics that directly contribute to these firms' success. Using audience polling technology, The Managing Partner Forum then asked 180 managing partners who attended recent MPF Leadership Conferences to grade their firms' performances in these twelve critical areas.

    Sit on the Sidelines or Get in the Game: Strategic Planning

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    We’re pleased to share a second set of audience polling results we collected at the ALA (Association of Legal Administrators) Annual Conference in Toronto on May 21, 2014. This session drilled down on strategic planning, including making the case, setting up the process, the ingredients of a good plan and keys to successful implementation.

    The bench-marking data in this slide deck is especially relevant to leaders of smaller and mid-size firms as 60% of participating firms had fewer than 50 lawyers. An estimated 225 law firm administrators attended the 60-minute session.

    Among the highlights:

    • Eighty-four percent (84%) of firm administrators believe a firm-wide strategic plan is an absolute necessity to run a successful law firm in today’s environment.
    • Yet, only forty-one percent (41%) reported that their firms have a firm-wide strategic plan. Twenty-nine percent (29%) said their firms were working on one.
    • On implementation, seventy percent (70%) graded their firms a “C” or below. Why the struggle? Too many ill-defined goals, often coupled with a lack of leadership and little accountability.
    • Among firms without a plan, the top three reasons were: 1) Firm leaders don’t see the need. 2) Leaders see the need, but can’t convince the others. 3) We’re too busy.
    In today’s highly competitive and rapidly changing market, law firms must develop and implement firm-wide strategic plans if they want to thrive, prosper and get where they want to go. Absent a plan, any path will take you there.

    Bringing Sustained Excellence into the Business of Law

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    We presented a 90-minute session at the ALA (Association of Legal Administrators) Annual Conference in Toronto on May 20th with about 200 law firm administrators in attendance. As part of the session, we used audience polling technology to survey participants on a myriad of issues relating to the business side of running their law firms. Firms ranged in size from 10-1,000 lawyers, with most in the 25- to 150-lawyer range. Among the highlights:

    • Firm administrators, generally, said their firms provide great client service, yet 61% never bother to ask for client feedback. In fact, fewer than 20% said they solicit client feedback on a regular basis.
    • Forty-one percent said their firms had a firm-wide strategic plan, with another 27% working on one. Of those with a plan, most gave their firms poor marks on successful implementation. Planning without implementation is a colossal waste of time, effort and energy.
    • When it comes to dealing with difficult issues, not one firm administrator gave his/her firm a “10.” Most gave their firms poor grades in this very important area.
    • Sixty-three percent said their firms had two-tiered partnership structures, with another 10% putting one in place.
    There’s some great bench-marking data here that you and your partners need to know. We suggest that you use it to inform (and perhaps persuade) the skeptics and nay-sayers at your firm about the importance of running the place more like a business…with goals, a plan, team-work and accountability.  

    Strategic Planning in Law Firms:
    From Consensus to Nuts & Bolts Implementation

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    We believe that every law firm, regardless of size and practice mix, should have a firm-wide strategic plan. The plan should set forth where the firm will be in five years and the initiatives it will implement to get there. For successful implementation, the plan should be short, realistic and achievable. Strong and effective leadership is also required. This brief interview was conducted on March 31, 2014 and includes discussion about:

    • Why your firm needs a plan to remain viable and competitive,
    • Why change is required to maintain and improve profitability and productivity,
    • How to get the strategic planning process underway at your firm,
    • The keys to successful implementation,
    • How planning improves the firm’s bottom line,
    • Recommendations for solos and smaller firms, and
    • The characteristics of a good law firm strategic plan.
    This recorded session will be invaluable to you if your firm is considering strategic planning for the first time, or if you’ve been struggling with implementation. We encourage you to share it with your partners and/or your management/executive committee and discuss at one its upcoming meetings.

  • US Legal Industry Facts and Figures
    by American Lawyer Media

    This nifty document includes key facts and figures about the country’s legal industry. You probably know many of them already, while others will add to your knowlegde base. Why not rattle off a few of this stats at your next partner's meeting? They’ll be impressed. 

    Here's a sampling:

    • There are 1.25 million lawyers in the US as of 2011 according to the American Bar Association.
    • Of those practicing law, 74% are in private practice. 16% are in-house.
    • Approximately 25% of practicing lawyers work at the nation’s 350 largest law firms.
    • Baker & McKenzie is the country’s largest firm with 3,805 lawyers according to The National Law Journal. DLA Piper (3,746 lawyers) is a close #2. Jones Day (2,407 lawyers) is a distant #3.
    • The highest compensation per partner? Wachtell at $4.5 million/year according to The American Lawyer.
    • Most important US Supreme Court decisions? Marbury v Madison (1803), Miranda v Arizona (1966), Roe v Wade (1973), and others.

  • Sterling Strategies' Question of the Month 
    Managing Under Productive Partners

    by John Sterling

    Each month, John Sterling offers insightful analysis of his “Law Firm Strategy Question of the Month” and presents a new question for the coming month. Recent topics include:
    •  Partner Compensation System Satisfaction,
    •  Profit Improvement Strategies, and
    •  Creating the Model Partner.
    It’s good stuff and we encourage you to check it out.  

  • How to Be a More Effective Firm Leader 
    - PDF of Handout Materials

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    On August 29th, we presented a Managing Partner Breakfast Roundtable in San Diego. The meeting attracted 20 firm leaders from the region and was sponsored by UPS. The topic was "How to Be a More Effective Firm Leader." These handout materials include some terrific benchmarking data on how 160 managing partners rate their firms in twelve critical areas.

  • ABA Web Seminar:
    Strategic Planning for Law Firms: 10 Critical Steps to Success

    by John Remsen, Jr., Vincent L. Valenza, Esq. and Robert A. Young, Esq.

    Even today, 60% of mid-size commercial law firms do not have a written strategic plan. Among those that do, 90% report that it has led to improved firm profitability and performance. Why, then, do most firms still not have a firm-wide plan? The reasons vary...but it's not really that hard if you go about it in a thoughtful, systematic way. 
    MPF CEO John Remsen, Jr. led a Web seminar presented by the ABA's Law Practice Management Section in September 2011. Panelists included MPF Advisory Board member, Vince Valenza, Managing Principal McNamee Lochner in Albany, New York, and Bob Young, Managing Partner of English Lucas in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Allison Shields was the moderator.
    This is a timely and helpful program if your firm is thinking about embarking on a strategic planning initiative. Click here for more information and to download the session.

  • Harvard Business Review

    It's a good idea for firm leaders to look outside the legal industry from time to time to gain leadership and management perspectives and ideas. This is the best place to find them. The Harvard Business Review ($79/year for 12 issues; $129/year includes HBR online) sets the standard when it comes to monthly business newsletters.