Managing Law Firms in Transition

Latest from Managing Law Firms in Transition

It can’t be overstated. The legal services business is experiencing dramatic change.  For law firms as institutions, it is obvious because more work than ever before is brought in-house by clients, and alternative service providers are rushing into the competitive landscape.  Besides the increase in competition, there are technical and practice advances that have changed the way law firms do business.  Legal project management, once a novelty, is altering the focus law firms are expected to…
Most law partnerships begin with a sense of shared aspirations, enthusiasm and trust. The founding partners and those subsequently added presumably maintain a fiduciary commitment to conduct consistent with the welfare of the other partners, as well as clients. The fact is that this is often not the case. The recent conclusion of a case involving an Atlanta law firm and its managing partner provides a painful but poignant example of the extent to which…
Despite the seemingly “good” year that 2018 was for many law firms, experience tells us that ”good” can be  a relative thing.  While 2018 performance data compares favorably to the data from the prior years following the Great Recession, all is not completely rosy.  Today’s law firms face more competition than ever as market share is shrinking, and the industry is being disrupted in multiple ways. The recently released Thomson Reuters State of the Legal…
I have been thinking about  the results from a recent survey conducted by the Zeughauser Group. Although the survey covered a variety of issues, the responses related to succession particularly struck me. When describing the top objectives for their firm, the most frequently stated objective was to “achieve long term stability.” When describing the biggest challenge facing their firm in the next 3-5 years, the biggest challenge stated was “transitioning leadership to the next generation”,…
No sooner than closing out 2018 than do law firm leaders confront the next challenge-2019.  Even firms not facing upheaval caused by attorney departures or declining client relationships will encounter other transitional events.  The contest never ends. Whether 2019 preparations are just getting started or already developed, some areas deserve a firm’s attention.  Focusing on these select areas can deliver short-term and long-term benefits and aid in making a law firm stronger.  As the New…
Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle. – Napoleon Hill The market volatility during the last year and the increasing concerns about a coming recession foreshadow risk for many law firms.   Additional market disruption may lead to challenges for firms of all sizes and in most practice disciplines. In a Forbes article, Basha Rubin suggested that we might be seeing the end of the mid-tier firm. Rubin’s reasoning is that the…
Although the final numbers are not in yet, 2018 has been touted as a good year for law firms.  Based on various reports including the 2019 Citi-Hildebrandt Client Advisory, revenues were up, billing rate increases held, and client demand increased.  These improvements are not shocking as law firm performance has been ascending in recent years. Just because industry performance this past year was on the whole very good, not all law firms can look back…
Most firms are in the final stretch for this year, wrestling with collections, budgets, promotions and compensation decisions. All of these are important activities. But, while focused on wrapping up 2018 let me suggest one more subject that deserves attention — something that stands a chance of making a real long-term difference. I suggest that you spend some time really wrestling with this question: “What one thing, if accomplished in the coming year, will leave…
Law firm leaders understandably see lucrative client work as an important key to overall firm profitability.  Left to their own devices, those leaders would eagerly raise rates or otherwise take steps to ratchet up the yield on work.  In contrast, their clients often consider the containment of legal costs as a key component to valuable legal services.  If clients were in control, they frequently would reduce rates, or seek other ways to manage down their…
Succession and succession planning are hot topics in the legal profession. One statistic explains the focus on the topic – only about 30% of law firms make it beyond the first generation. Why Do So Many Law Firms Fail? Why do so few law firms make it to the second generation? Consider this progression of logic: Few goals are realized by happenstance; The greater the objective, the less likely it will be realized without serious…