Law Practice Management Asked and Answered Blog

Category: Management

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May 29, 2024

Law Firm Structure and Governance


We are a group of six partners that are in the process of leaving a well established firm in Los Angeles, California and will be starting our own firm. In our early planning we have been discussing how we will structure and manage the firm. You advise and suggestions would be most welcomed.


Most smaller to medium sized law firms choose one of three fundamental varieties of management structure. These systems may be characterized as management by:

  1. Democracy
  2. A managing partner
  3. An executive or management committee.

Full PartnershipFull Partnership or All Partners –  Under a full partnership each member of the firm has an equal voice in management and is “just as needed” as others to act. Any decision must be concurred upon by all partners, and various administrative tasks may be assigned or rotated among partners. Notwithstanding the perceived benefits accruing to partners as the result of participating in firm management and “controlling their own destinies,” democratic firms traditionally progress more slowly and at a less profitable rate than firms governed under one of the other structural concepts.

Managing Partner – This approach is probably the most efficient form of managing a law firm. A strong managing partner is oftentimes referred to as a “benevolent dictator.” Authority and accountability for all firm matters may be controlled by one partner or a tightly knit group of dominant partners. Typically, a managing partner is the person who opens the office in the morning and closes it in the evening. He or she may be responsible for originating and retaining the firm’s major clients. The managing partner frequently receives all work assignments from clients and parcels work out to other partners and associates. The managing partner typically determines the partners’ and associates’ compensation and perquisites.

Executive or Management Committee – The executive or management committee structural concept is a representative form of governance typified by a committee of partners having defined authority, accountability and responsibility. In most smaller firms this committee, frequently consisting of three partners, may be responsible for recommending and implementing policy for the firm, planning for the future, appraising results and recommending corrective action, as required.
A three partner executive or management committee is frequently recommended to avoid deadlocks or inaction and to spread the burden of administration among appropriate partners. One of the partners should be designated to chair the committee. Each of the other members may be assigned authority, responsibility and accountability for coordinating and/or performing specific functions. For example, one partner may serve as the financial partner. This would involve responsibility for insuring the preparation and analysis of income and expense budgets and financial reporting. This partner would oversee attorney production, fees, collections, etc. A second partner may be responsible for the personnel functions including associate career development, i.e., employment, training, evaluation, etc., and implementation of policy for the administrative staff. A third partner may serve as the general administrative partner, and oversee the implementation of administrative policy, systems, automation, etc. These partners may be assisted by an office manager, bookkeeper, etc.

To preserve continuity in the management function, it is recommended that tenure of partners on the executive or management committee be staggered over a two or three year period. The executive committee should communicate with the partners regularly or as issues arise. The executive committee should meet weekly, or if that isn’t convenient, as frequently as required. To keep all of the partners apprised of issues before the executive committee meeting is held, it is recommended that the meeting agenda be distributed to all partners within 48 hours prior to the scheduled meeting. Partners should be encouraged to discuss, with members of the executive committee, any items listed on the agenda or recommend subjects for discussion. Following this meeting, minutes should be prepared and distributed to all of the partners for information purposes.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC


Feb 14, 2024

Law Firm Succession – Transition of Senior Partners Leadership and Management Roles


I am one of three founding partners in a 17 lawyer insurance defense firm in Houston. We have a total of 18 lawyers in the firm – 3 founding equity partners, 4 other equity partners, 5 non-equity partners, and 6 associates. The three of us founding partners are in our 60s and approaching requirement and are concerned about succession planning and transition. We feel that we are in good shape concerning transition of clients but not so concerning management roles and responsibilities. The firm is managed by the three of us and we have kept tight reigns on the administrative/management side of the house. We would appreciate your thoughts.


A successful transition strategy involves three components.

  1. Legal Skills (lawyering skills)
  2. Client and Referral Source Relationships
  3. Firm Management and Leadership Roles

While it sounds like you are in good shape concerning legal skills of your other partners and client and referral source relationships, work needs to be done in the areas of firm management and leadership.

Law schools do not train or develop managing partners or lawyer managers, nor does doing excellent and complicated work for demanding clients. Highly competent attorneys do not necessarily make good managing partners or lawyer managers. Some of the best lawyers are the worst managers. The better lawyer managers have a second sense for people and management, in addition to being good lawyers and possibly outstanding rainmakers. Many firms develop successors to management by delegating to selected mid-level and junior partners short term management assignments and by rotating these partners through various management areas to develop their general management skills rather than developing particular lawyers as specialists in specific management areas. These firms begin to train mid-level and junior partners by assigning short term, low risk management activities before entrusting them with key management jobs.

Management Skills

The following are recommended areas in which the management skills of mid-level and junior partners can and should be developed:

  1. Client relations, including origination, development and retention;
  2. Acceptance of new clients and matters and the management of performance of legal work in substantive practice areas and sub-specialties;
  3. Associate recruitment, training and development of a personal and professional nature, promotion, evaluation and compensation and termination;
  4. Administrative staff organization, relationships and utilization;
  5. Budgeting for revenue, expenses, capital expenditures; billings and collections; financial and variance reporting and utilization of resultant financial data and management information;
  6. Technology including computers, software, other equipment and technical support from non-lawyer specialists;
  7. Leases, space utilization, negotiations and construction.

Techniques for Developing Skills

On-the-job-training is the most effective technique for developing and refining the management skills of mid-level and junior partners. Three of the most frequently used approaches for teaching management skills include being assigned to a committee, being elected or appointed to a management or leadership position and serving as a member of a special team.

  1. Committee Membership: Mid-level and junior partners may be appointed or elected to serve on the management or other committees. Depending upon the form of firm governance, partners may be appointed or elected to represent various age groups and/or regional offices in multi-office firms. They may be chosen to serve on other committees such as marketing, associates, recruiting, lateral hires, administrative staff, financial, ethics or the management committee, etc.
  2. Appointed positions: Partners may be appointed to manage functional areas of administrative or substantive firm activity. For example, a partner may be appointed to chair a practice area or one of its sub-specialties. Another one may chair the marketing committee. A third may serve as the firm’s ethics partners, etc.
  3. Special Team: A partner may lead a special team to address a specific issue or function. For example, a partner may be requested to recommend new or emerging practice areas. Another may explore the feasibility of establishing a new regional office. A third partner who has an interest or background in technology may direct the firm’s automation effort, etc.

The mid-level or junior partner selected for training should receive administrative assignments and his or her performance should be evaluated accordingly. Each lawyer manager should be requested to develop a plan for the year, including goals and proposed action plans for accomplishing their objectives. They should be required to review these plans with the head of the committee or the partner to whom they are accountable. Partners who are appointed or elected to specific positions should be accountable to a partner or committee responsible for their actions and be evaluated on their performance. Many law firms consider the success or failure of partners in planning and implementing administrative assignments when recommending or setting their compensation levels. This is done to encourage the firm’s “best and brightest” partners to accept administrative assignments and not feel uncomfortable because they may record fewer billable hours. Also, it would be wise for the managing partner or executive committee to identify and provide other non-monetary forms of recognition to successful lawyer managers.

Planning for the transition of law firm leadership and management calls for the ability of the current managing partner or members of the management committee to spot leadership and management potential among the partner complement. Once this potential has been identified the current management must nurture and develop this potential so as to provide the future leaders of the firm.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Feb 07, 2024

Law Firm Practice Group Management – Practice Group Leader Roles and Responsibilities


Our firm is a 17 attorney insurance defense firm in Cincinnati, Ohio. We are in first generation and we have 9 equity partners, 3 non-equity partners, and 5 associates. We are managed by a three member  executive committee and a firm administrator. We have been discussing the need to create a few practice groups and appointing practice group leaders for these groups. We are wondering what the roles of these leaders should be and what should be expected of them. Your advise is appreciated.


The overall purpose and role of practice groups as well as their leaders should be to create structure and accountability within their respective practice groups  to maximize the economic potential of the firm while institutionalizing the principles of leadership and teamwork. The practice group leaders should have discretion as to how to implement these responsibilities within their groups. Recognizing that practice leaders have many priorities, it is expected that they may delegate certain functions to one or more partners within their group, i.e., training associates, reviewing and following-up on marketing initiatives established by the group and individual members, etc. It is also anticipated that the practice leaders may call upon the members of the executive committee to assist in the implementation of these initiatives. However, practice leaders must retain responsibility for working with timekeepers within their practice group – partners, associates and paralegals – on their individual productivity, billing, collection and marketing efforts.

Here is a list of typical practice group leader responsibilities:

1. Productivity

On a regular basis, monthly at the outset and at least as the end of each quarter after target levels have been achieved, practice leaders should review the billable hours of each timekeeper in their practice groups. Are partners pushing work down and is there sufficient billable work to keep all timekeepers fully occupied to meet target performance levels, and distribution of work among practice group associates.

2. Economic Performance

Equally important to the success of a law firm is the need to improve the effectiveness of its attorneys’ billing and collection practices. Practice group leaders should review monthly accounts receivable reports for the practice partners and to work with each partner to take prompt and appropriate actions to cure delinquencies.

3. New Client/ New Matter Intake Procedure

Except for the conflicts checks, partners in a great many law firms make individual decisions committing their firm to a particular client representation.
Since practice leaders are expected to be responsible for setting the course, and profitability, of their respective practices, i.e., implementing the practice area strategic plan, it follows that they should play a significant role in the decision on what work the practice should pursue through client development initiatives and what work it should accept.

4. Associate Mentoring, Compensation Adjustments and Growth

Practice group leaders should take the lead to implement the firm’s mentoring program for each practice group associate and periodically evaluate the each associate’s growth, ensure preparation of annual written reviews of all associates by partners supervising their assignments and assume responsibility for prompt implementation of performance improvement directives or outplacement.

5. Partner Compensation Recommendations

Practice leaders should assume an important role in the compensation evaluation of partners in their practice group. Practice leaders should prepare annual qualitative evaluations of each partner in the practice, and, where applicable, coordinate evaluations for partners associated with more than one practice group. In addition, they should review annual performance statistics for each partner and make recommendations to the Compensation Committee.

6. Strategic Planning and Practice Development

Partners in a great many law firms focus their attention on the development of their individual practices and to commit their firm’s resources to support these efforts. While I endorse these individual efforts, many of the more financially and professionally successful law firms have determined that it makes sense to create some structure to ensure that the individual efforts fit within the overall strategic plan for their practice area and their firm.

7. Lateral Candidate Opportunities

Whether as a result of strategic planning or unanticipated circumstances, it is anticipated that all of the firm’s practice areas will be opportunistic to the possibility of considering lateral acquisitions with profitable books of desirable business to enhance the firm’s practices. Because this process may be time consuming for the firm’s lawyer management, it will be important for the practice leaders to identify resource needs, conduct initial screening of lateral candidates, and when a viable candidate is found that satisfies the firm’s screening criteria and the practice group’s strategic plan, make recommendations to the Executive Committee.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Mar 26, 2020

Law Firms Working Remotely During Covid-19


I am the sole owner of an estate planning firm in downtown Chicago with four other attorneys and six staff members. Since we are considered by the state of Illinois to be a  necessary business service most of us are still working at the office. I know that many firms are working remotely. How is that working out and what are the specifics of how to make that work – new client intake meetings, work on client matters, coordination with attorney and staff team, and client document signings?


It is working out very well for many firms and better than expected. Here is what one of my estate planning law firms with four attorneys and seven staff members is doing:

  1. The firm has the receptionist at each of its two offices working at each office.
  2. The receptionist at each office answers the phones, makes appointments for new clients, and since the firm has landlines emails remote attorneys and staff their phone calls/messages who in turn return phone calls.
  3. The receptionist at each office receives mail at the office, scans the mail, and emails to appropriate attorneys and staff. Incoming client documents are scanned to client files. Vendor invoices are scanned and emailed to the firm administrator who in turn updates the billing and bookkeeping systems.
  4. The receptionist at each office makes remote bank deposits using the remote deposit scanner provided by the bank. A copy of the deposit report is emailed to the firm administrator who updates the billing and accounting systems.
  5. All new client intake interviews are being done over the phone or via Skype, Zoom, or GoToMeeting.
  6. Client document signings are being postponed or done at the office in a special sanitized room after clients are screened.
  7. The firm has been paperless for some time and attorneys and staff are able to access form documents and client files remotely. GotoMyPC was setup on each attorney and staff member’s PC in the office and access is obtained to the firm’s server via GotoMyPC.
  8. The firm administrator initiates the billing process by generating prebills in pdf and emailing to attorneys who in turn markup with comments on the pdf. The administrator makes changes, generates final invoices, email to clients that receive email invoices, and emails to the receptionist at each office who in turn mails to those clients that receive paper invoices.
  9. Virtual team meetings are held weekly.
  10. A new employee hired before Covid-19 will be trained virtually

This approach is working pretty well. The firm has sufficient work in process to keep people working and the firm, although new client calls are down, the phone is still ringing are the firm is signing up new business.

It would have been easier had the firm had cloud-based billing and accounting systems as well as VOIP phone system. However, the procedures and protocols the firm is taking is working reasonably well.

Personally, our firm went remote 20 years ago and we don’t miss the days of high office space cost, overhead, wasted commute time, etc. At that time I built out and dedicated 1,000 square feet of space in our home and we have all the systems (phones, file servers, conference room, etc.) that would be found in a typical office. We supplement this with a virtual arrangement with Regus.

Good Luck to all during this challenging time.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC


Feb 06, 2020

Law Firm Marketing and Business Development Coordinator or Director


I am the sole owner of an estate planning firm in San Francisco Bay area. I have four full-time associates, six paralegals, two secretaries, a firm administrator, and four other staff members. We are a high volume operation and we do a lot of marketing. We need help coordinating and handling and coordinating the marketing. Are we ready for marketing coordinator or director?


Personally I think the firm is a little small for a full-time marketing position. If you can find a person that is willing to work part-time that could work in a firm your size. Many firms your size and larger that have a firm administrator include marketing responsibilities on the firm administrator’s job description and have marketing and business development coordination handled by the firm administrator. Here is an example of the marketing and business development duties that your administrator could handle.


Coordinate the firm’s advertising program established by the owner.

Business Development

Coordinate and implement the business development program established  the owner

  1. Sponsorship’s and Community Programs – oversee, plan, and coordinate the firm’s:
    (1) Client seminars
    (2) Webinars
    (3) Ad hoc events
  2. Database Management and Distribution of E-News Letters

Oversight responsibility by performing or delegating the following:

1  Updating Firm E newsletter database

2 Monthly review of E newsletter Database blocked list report,
contacting contacts for updated email addresses, and updating
e-newsletter and all related databases.

3   Update Other Firm E-newsletter Databases

4   Update case management and time billing databases

5   Distribute Electronic E newsletters.

Client Testimonials

Prompting the owner monthly to solicit one client testimonial from a client and posting or coordinating with the firm’s website provider for them to post the testimonial to the website.

  1. Business Development Committee Meetings – Friday Attorney Meetings

2  Schedule, coordinate, and maintain a file on the firm’s file
server of action items and notes from each meeting.

3  Coordinate and assist in the implementation of action items.

Public Relations

Coordinate the firm’s public relations program.

Electronic Media

1. Website

Oversight responsibility for maintaining the firm’s web site and keep
the website’s content fresh and updated in coordination with website provider.

2. Social Media

Update entries on social media.


  1. Coordinate external directory listings
  2. Update the firm resume and material for printed and electronic directories.

Client Communication/Satisfaction Program

  1. Oversight and coordination of the end of matter survey/online review
    program and maintain database of responses
  2. Prepare monthly client survey report from survey database.

Firm Announcements

Supervise preparation and distribution of firm announcements

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Dec 31, 2019

Law Firm Management – What Will Be Keeping Owners and Managing Partner Awake at Night in 2020


I am the owner of a twelve attorney business litigation law firm in Northern, California. I started the firm fourteen years ago after practicing ten years in a large law firm. While the practice has been fulfilling both professionally and financially, the management side is often a challenge. As I sit here on December 31, 2019 thinking about management challenges that I may face next year I was wondering what you envision the challenges will be in 2020.


The following were the common challenges that owners and managing partners advised us that they faced in 2019:

  1. Talent Management – Attorneys and Staff
    1. Hiring
    2. Training
    3. Motivating
    4. Compensating
    5. Keeping (retaining)
  2. Firm Succession and Transition
  3. Getting and Keeping Clients and Additional Sources of Business
  4. Managing Cash Flow
  5. Satisfying Hard to Please Clients
  6. Balancing Time Between Servicing Clients and Managing the Firm
  7. Getting Paid
  8. Competition from Other Law Firms and Non-Law Firm Service Providers
  9. Proving High Quality Legal Services at an Affordable Price and Avoiding Malpractice Claims
  10. Finding Time for Personal Life and Family

In 2019 the number one challenge was talent management and I believe this will continue to be the case in 2020. The other challenges that I have listed will continue to be the major concerns of owners and managing partners in 2020.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC




Jun 19, 2019

Burning Issues for a New Law Firm Owner Starting Firm After Leaving BigLaw


I have recently started a law firm in the suburbs of New Orleans after leaving a large law firm in the city. I was a non-equity partner in the firm and had worked for the firm for fifteen years. I worked in the estate planning group and handled complex estate planning matters for wealthy individual clients. Much of the business was referred to the firm by large bank trust departments. I have been promised referrals from some of these banks. I had other referral sources as well that will be sending business. The focus of my practice will be exclusively on complex estate planning for wealthy clients. A paralegal and an associate from the firm will be coming with me. During my career my focus has been on practicing law and not running a business. What are some of the challenges and burning issues that I will face?


You are starting with the advantage of probably having grown up with excellent training and mentoring that larger firms are capable of providing. As a result you probably have an excellent skill set and it sounds like you have learned how to get business and have developed referral relationships. However, you also have been accustomed to firm management and other resources that will not be available to you in a smaller firm. You will have to get your hands dirty and handle much more of the firm management and administrative functions than you had to do in the larger firm.

Some of the challenges and burning issues that will keep you awake at night will probably include:

  1. Hiring, training, motivating, compensating, and retaining attorneys and staff – both those that initially join you and future hires. Small firms often cannot afford to provide the level of compensation and benefits that larger law firms and other businesses provide. You must creative and use other carrots such as flexibility, work-life balance, etc. to be competitive.
  2. Additional sources of business. Even though you have promises from past referral sources to send you business the business may not materialize from these sources for various reasons. You must be prepared to proactively marketing your practice. A content-rich website, client seminars, and additional referral source development should be at the top of your list.
  3. Cash flow will be a challenge and issue, at least initially. Insure that your have sufficient working capital to start your firm and access to adequate credit lines if you need them. Obtain retainers from clients upfront, stay ahead on retainer replenishment, and bill promptly. Watch your spending but focus on revenue generation.
  4. Balancing your time between servicing clients and managing the practice. In your prior firm your primary mission was to practice law and serve clients. Now, as the sole owner of a law firm, you will also have management and administrative responsibilities. Your time between these two areas will require careful balance – neither can be neglected. While you can eventually hire some help you can never relinquish total responsibility for running the business.
  5. Development of systems. Processes and procedures will need to be documented in office policy and procedures manuals. Computer hardware and software will need to be acquired and implemented. There will need to be oversight over these systems. You should at least have a “top level” understanding of these systems.
  6. Client demands. Client demands and workloads can often take a toll on new owners. There will a time will your will be so busy you would like to hire additional help but not so busy that you are ready to or can justify doing so.

These are just a few of the challenges and burning issues that others from BigLaw starting their own practice have discussed with us.

Good luck with the launch of your practice.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Apr 24, 2019

Law Firm Training Tools – Documentation of Processes and Procedures in Firm Procedural Manuals


I am the sole owner of a six attorney personal injury firm in San Francisco with five support staff. My father started the firm twenty-five years ago and has since retired from practice. I took over the practice five years ago. At the time I took over the practice we had just my dad, myself, a couple legal assistants, and no technology. Since then I have done a lot to grow the practice including adding attorneys and staff as well as implementing technology. My biggest problem is training new attorneys and staff. We have no written documentation as to how we do things so training has to be done orally by myself or others every time a new attorney or staff member joins the firm. Can you offer any suggestions?


Sounds like you don’t have a written employee handbook or procedures manuals. These are essential tools that every law firm regardless of size should have. These tools dramatically reduce time that has to be spent by others to on-board new employees and can facilitate bringing on lower cost employees with less experience such as recent law graduates or paralegal graduates.

The employee handbook outlines the firm’s employment policies and contains sections such as:

An operation or procedures manual is the firm’s how-to-do-it guide. It defines the purpose of work, specifies the steps that need to be taken while doing the work, and summarizes the standards associates with both the process and the result. Your operation or procedures manual specifies this is how we do it here. Every process in the firm should be documented in your manual – from marketing – to accounting –  to IT – to legal case work. Sections in your manual might include:

Procedures manuals are often a list of steps in outline form. The American Bar Association has a book – The Law Office Policy and Procedures Manual that may help you get started. 

In my earlier life I spent nine years in the United States Air Force Judge Advocate Generals (JAG) office and there I learned the importance of policy and procedures manuals and I carried this into both law firms where I worked prior to starting my consulting practice thirty-four years ago.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC





Jan 09, 2019

Law Firm Management – Held Hostage by Office Manager or Bookkeeper


I am a partner is a small family law firm in Tucson, Arizona. There are two partners in the firm and two associates. We have an office manager/bookkeeper, a receptionist, and two legal assistants. The office manager was hired one year ago. The other partner is retiring next year and I am purchasing the practice from him. I became a partner last year. I am new to the management side of the practice and have been relying on the office manager who also serves as our bookkeeper. I am at my wits ends with our office manager and I believe that she is not suited for the position. She has no organizational skills, she misses deadlines, vendor bills are not paid on time, and client bills are not sent out accurately and timely. I have counselled her on numerous occasions to no avail. I believe we need to replace her but I am reluctant since no one else here knows what she does or how she does it. A new billing and accounting system was implemented last year and she was the only one trained on the system. What do we do if we terminate her or she quits? We are hostages. I would appreciate any ideas of thoughts that you may have.


I understand and appreciate your situation. It sounds like you have not documented your procedures in the form of a firm procedures manual and everything is in the office manager’s head. This makes it difficult for someone to take over her responsibilities if she leaves the firm for whatever reason but not impossible. It will probably be difficult to get her to develop one now as it may signal to her that her time with the firm is short and she may start looking for another position. You may have to just bit the bullet, terminate her, restaff the position, and go from there.  It won’t be fun but you will make it though. You might consider the following:

  1. The office manager probably has handwritten notes, etc. that she has used to roughly document how she does things. Collect these and review these.
  2. Contact your billing and accounting software provider and have them help you will any training needs you have as well as procedural issues. Back in my old life when I did software work with law firms I often was called and assisted firms with such situations.

After you get the position staffed and past the crisis develop a detailed written manual of procedures for the office. Not just the office management side but the client service side – attorneys and paralegals as well.

I believe that it is imperative that owners and partners in a law firm have access to financial information on a timely basis, understand the information, and use the information in a proactive way to manage the practice. I suggest:

  1. The owner, or an appointed partner(s) in larger firms, obtain a basic level of understanding in basic accounting/bookkeeping and law firm financial management.
  2. The owner, or an appointed partner(s) in larger firms, obtain detailed training on the accounting software system(s) along-side the bookkeeper when the system is implemented. In addition to general operation of the software, special training should also be obtained on interpretation and use of the management reports.
  3. Insure that you have accounting controls in place and appropriate segregation of accounting duties.
  4. Outline your expectations and requirements of the office manager/bookkeeper, meet with her/him, and communicate appropriately.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC


Oct 17, 2018

The Focused Law Firm


I am a member of a three-member management committee. Our firm is a twenty-five attorney firm located in the greater Washington D.C. area. We specialize in governmental law. We are feeling that our committee and the firm spends a lot of time in meetings discussing management problems, strategies, etc. to no avail. Not much changes or gets implemented. I welcome your comments.


One of the major problems facing law firms is focus. Research indicates that three of the biggest challenges facing professionals today are: time pressures, financial pressures, and the struggle to maintain a healthy balance between work and home. Billable time, non-billable time or the firm’s investment time, and personal time must be well managed, targeted and focused. Your time must be managed as well.

Today well-focused specialists are winning the marketplace wars. Trying to be all things to all people is not a good strategy. Such full-service strategies only lead to lack of identity and reputation. For most small firms it is not feasible to specialize in more than two or three core practice areas.

Based upon our experience from client engagements I have concluded that lack of focus and accountability is one of the major problems facing law firms. Often the problem is too many ideas, alternatives, and options. The result often is no action at all or actions that fail to distinguish firms from their competitors and provide them with a sustained competitive advantage. Ideas, recommendations, suggestions, etc. are of no value unless implemented.
Don’t hide behind strategy and planning. Attorneys love to postpone implementation. Find ways to focus the firm and foster accountability from all.

Go For Bottom Line Results

Attorneys respect facts. The quicker your committee can implement solutions that have a positive financial impact on the bottom line the quicker the committee will gain credibility and respect from the other partners.

Use The Consulting Process

Treat the problem or issues like a legal matter engagement or project. Conduct appropriate research and back up ideas and recommendations with hard data. Adequately prepare and rehearse presentations. Prepare like attorneys prepare a case for trial. The management committee’s credibility will only be enhanced if its ideas are accepted and implemented with positive results.

Use of Triads – Present Three Alternatives or Options

Time after time management committees have spent endless hours studying and researching a problem, brainstorming solutions, preparing and presenting their recommendations to the partners only to have their report tabled and asked to present additional alternatives. What happened? The management committee failed to present three options or alternatives. The partners had no basis of comparison.

Experience and research shows that the success rate improves dramatically when three options or alternatives are presented. The triad strengthens thinking abilities enormously and empowers people in making choices. It also trains the mind to see the relationships between alternatives and options. Management Consultants never present just one alternative or option.

Management Committees that use triads and present three alternatives or options will be more successful in selling their ideas to their partners.

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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC


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