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May 01, 2012

Problem Partners – Do You Have the Right Folks on the Bus?


I am managing partner for a 16 attorney firm in Minneapolis. We have been having problems with one of our senior partners. He is our highest fee generator – both origination and generation. He operates as a "lone ranger" and refuses to work as a team member with others. He won't follow firm policy or play by the rules. We are trying to build a team based practice and this one partner is holding up our progress. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions?


Getting and keeping the right people on the bus is a key challenge for law firm management and dealing with "maverick partners" is always a challenge. Of course they seem to always be the heavy hitters and this makes it that much more difficult as often there are major clients and large sums of money at stake – at least in the short term. This can also be major issues and large sums of money at stake in the long term if you don't deal with the maverick partner as well. In addition you won't be able to achieve the vision and goals the firm is trying to achieve.

Many firms have had to deal with the problem of a maverick "huge business generator" who just wouldn’t cooperate with firm policies and caused conflict and tension in the firm. It is an unpleasant task – but in the end – worth the investment. In the end he or she either conforms or leaves the firm. We have been advised by our clients that even though they may have struggled in the short term as the result of the loss of a major fee producer – in the long run the firm was better off and should have done it earlier.

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

Posted at 07:28 PM in Human Resources, Partnership
Tags: Problem Partners

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