Managing Law Firm Transition

Thoughts on Leading High Consequence Change

Latest from Managing Law Firm Transition

For law firm leaders, continuing a firm’s success is about constant monitoring, clear vision, perspective, and the willingness to act. Well-run businesses, including law firms, stay abreast of changes in the marketplace by monitoring shifting client needs. Successful businesses track the initiatives of competitors and seek to secure the premium assets needed to compete. For law firms, that means keeping clients, getting new ones, and preserving the talent in the workforce. There are many ways…
If you practice law, there is one eventuality that should be added to that familiar duo of Death and Taxes. No one talks much about it, but it warrants the same attention to detail. The subject? The end of your practice.  As is the case with its two more familiar rivals for attention, ignoring it will not prove wise.  The fact is that that for most the end of your practice will probably be the most…
Competition among law firms is as brisk as ever. Gaining an advantage requires more than hard work-it requires strategic thinking that causes a firm to be different in a positive and noticeable way. Simply working harder or relying on strategies that performed in the past is not enough. If business as usual is not sustainable and differentiation essential, firms must consider not being all things to all clients, must bring greater focus to their clients’…
Growth through lateral additions is a hit or miss proposition at best. Numerous survey reports indicate that far fewer that 50% of lateral additions meet the expectations of the hiring firm. There are a number of reasons for this poor performance. Three that almost always foreshadow disappointment in the near term include: Exaggerated estimation of portable business, Lack of cultural fit and, Lack of strategic fit. All three of these can be addressed by taking…
Merger is a tactic that never ceases to be popular with law firms. Among other things, a merger can create excitement, offer greater financial opportunity, provide a rescue, or promise a firm and its people a more promising future. As merger activity unfolds, a law firm leader may soon feel initial enthusiasm damped by unwanted attrition from portions of the firm. Despite the perceived positives, merger can be unsettling to a firm’s personnel, including its…
  Following a pandemic driven drop in the number of law firm mergers in 2020, based on what our practice is seeing, 2021 will see a substantial increase in combinations. It seems like scarcely a week passes without an announcement of another law firm merger. We have been particularly interested in the pending Thompson Knight – Holland & Knight transaction. This reported combination appears to be experiencing some unwanted attritionthat is fairly common in large…
Law firm mergers can accomplish a great deal, so it is no wonder they are popular. The number of mergers consummated each year is steady if not growing. Strategically designed and executed law firm mergers can boost combined firms to places otherwise difficult to achieve in the time frames desired. Even though many mergers make sense and receive the accolades deserved, there are other combinations that fail. Indeed, by some assessments, fifty percent of all…
  It has been a good while since I have written on this topic but two recent events prompted me to address it again. The first: last week, Bruce Matson, former General Counsel of LeClair Ryan, reportedly (subscription required)  admitted embezzling $2.5 million dollars from a client trust account. The second situation relates to a client — a relatively small firm located on the West coast. In this instance my client discovered that an employee…
Law firm succession can be easy, and it can be hard. It tends to be easy for the law firms blessed with talented people, a deep and repeatable client base, and a stellar reputation. Transition from one generation to the next can be natural and seamless. Unfortunately, not all law firms enjoy such a profile. Most law firms find law firm succession a greater challenge. These firms, grinding daily to succeed in the here and…
One of the most underappreciated factors associated with law firm success or failure is the effectiveness of leadership. The fact is, no single factor has a greater impact on the success or failure of a business than the quality of its leadership. During a period of increasing change in the legal services industry a well-defined means of developing effective leadership is a must. First, let’s debunk a myth – effective leaders are born, they are…