Authored By: Iris Garrett
We all know the saying, “Out with the old, in with the new”. It is a common theme for most people at the beginning of a new year that addresses the need to rid yourself of old habits and things that no longer work in order to make room for new habits and a fresh start. But what if one of the items you need to consider changing is the leadership at your law firm? What if it’s time to freshen up the strategies you use to govern your practice?
Eilene Spear and Jennifer Schaller of The National Law Review say law firms nationwide are experiencing a crisis in leadership, and it is partly due to the majority of them basing their decision-making on consensus. Instead, they say firms should structure themselves like a business and streamline their decisions. To do this, they say you must re-evaluate the role of your Managing Partner, the person who tends to be in charge of the main processes for your firm (its administration and daily tasks). Spear and Schaller say if your Managing Partner lacks execution and empowerment, it can leave the firm at a disadvantage: “Most MPs enjoy the positive aspects of the MP role, but many don’t seem to want accountability or to be responsible for holding others accountable for getting results.” (Re-Envisioning the Law Firm: How to Lead Change and Thrive in the Future).
Spear and Schaller say to overcome the setbacks of a laidback Managing Partner, consider making them a CEO, both in name and function. They say this will encourage the MP to have the tough conversations needed to get clients the best results (and make the firm the most profits). Spear and Schaller say firms would also do well by adding an Executive Committee to function like the MP/CEO’s senior leadership team. They would see to it that the firm is prioritizing its strategic objectives and ensure it is moving forward in the right direction. The Executive Committee would also promote three key principles that each play a vital role when you want to re-shape the culture of your law firm.
Spear and Schaller describe the 3 key principles as:
- Innovation: It rewards creativity and risk-taking, and it asks the question, “Why do we do it this way?”
- Change: It allows the firm and its leaders to be open to new ideas and constructive feedback. It also opens the door to better solutions that could improve results.
- Accountability: It means the CEO will hold him- or herself to high standards and expect others to follow his or her lead. It also demonstrates that the CEO will focus on building trust within the company while still emphasizing clients first and the firm second.
Spear and Schaller say adopting these changes and embracing the concept of “Out with the old, in with the new” may seem challenging, but it is what is needed to move your law firm leadership forward in 2017.
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Photo Credit: kasto