Managing Law Firm Transition

Thoughts on Leading High Consequence Change

Latest from Managing Law Firm Transition

Virtually all law firms have had to adjust business practices to address the pandemic’s impact.  Whether working remotely, refocusing or changing firm economics, making personnel moves, or partnering with clients more, today’s challenges have fundamentally changed the way law firms operate.  For the law firms grappling with too many upheavals in their world, crisis looms. For most law firm leaders, the advent of crisis is a new experience.  Instead of making decisions that merely move…
In last week’s post, we explored the surprise loss of a law firm leader. Today I want to suggest an orderly approach to this inevitable event. The Zeughauser Group conducted a survey that included several interesting issues. Three observations related to planning for the long-term health of the firm struck me. · When describing the top objectives for their firm, the most frequently stated objective was to “achieve long term stability.” · When describing…
recent post in Law.com about Boies Schiller and Flexner reminded me of the critical dynamics associated with losing key members of a law firm. The departure of individuals responsible for a significant amount of client revenue, or those who serve in leadership positions can be traumatic events and may pose a considerable threat to firm stability. This post addresses the loss of law firm leaders.  The loss of a law firm leader can occur…
The pandemic has caused an unprecedented change to the practice of law for many law firms.  Since March, the delivery of superior client service has required a new way of thinking and a little bit of scrambling.  Yet after a couple of months living in the Covid-19 world, some law firms feel a new normal that instills confidence about the future. While trust in the future may have grown, fully returning to past practices is…
In a conversation last week, a friend who is a partner in an AMLAW 100 firm told me that he received a record number of calls from search firms during the previous month. In a separate conversation last week, a Managing Partner client noted the incredible number of calls she was receiving pertaining to hiring opportunities. It appears that the lateral market is abnormally active. There are a number of reasons an individual lawyer might…
Law firm crisis typically brings financial pressure.  Reduced demand, slow-paying clients, and now due obligations incurred in better times are but a few of the hallmarks of crisis.  As bad as these things can be, the strain can intensify quickly when the firm’s lender expresses concern.  Because a lender’s involvement can dictate the outcome, any impacted law firm leader should observe three fundamentals. First, having a thorough knowledge of the loan documents is essential.  Thinking…
“If you throw a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will hop right out. But if you put that frog in a pot of tepid water and slowly warm it, the frog doesn’t figure out what is going on until it’s too late…” Stephenie Meyer   Much like the boiling frog, if a law firm’s partners don’t recognize that the water is heating up — and not in a good way — they…
Covid-19 has impacted virtually all law firms.  A few firms have benefitted, some have suffered catastrophe, while the bulk of firms fall somewhere in the middle and forge ahead as best they can. Whether leadership for this third group is plugging a leaky dike or simply boosting morale, the focus on short-term survival is a common concern.  As scary as present circumstances may seem, however, Covid-19’s impact will continue throughout the rest of 2020.  Fortunately,…
Three points in a law firm’s development will demonstrate the degree to which law firm owners share common values and aspirations: when the compensation system is under scrutiny, when it is time to commit to a new lease, and in an hour of crisis. Typically, when a firm is formed, two, three or maybe a handful of individuals gravitate to one another, and realize they share some combination of values, dreams, and aspirations, and decide…
Regardless of degree, Covid-19’s impact on law firms is near universal.  Some firms have been impacted so severely that crisis is their reality.  Confronted with a do or die situation, strong leadership fights to bring back normalcy.  Failure can mean disaster. Leaders used to positive law firm performance can find themselves uncertain about their new role. In the face of uncertainty, focused leadership takes the typical steps of receivable management, cost-cutting, personnel decisions, and morale…