Law Practice Management Asked and Answered Blog

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Apr 22, 2014

Law Firm Financial Management – Higher Profit – Lower Partner Compensation


Our firm is a 7 attorney firm in Evansville, Indiana – four partners and three associates. I am one of the partners in the firm. Each month we are provided with a profit and loss statement, a billable hours report, fees received reports broken by lawyer, and accounts receiveable reports by lawyer. In 2014 our fee collections are up significantly over 2013 – our expenses are lower – profits are up – yet the money is not there for partner draws and we are having to draw less than we did in 2013? What do you think is happening?


A couple of reports that are missing from your list - a balance sheet and a statement of cash flows. Even if you are on cash-based accounting not all cash disbursements flow through the profit and loss statement which is the report that reports profit/loss. For the following types of cash disbursements flow through the balance sheet and are not considered expenses:

So while the profit and loss statement may be showing a higher level of profit there could have been other uses of cash that are not reflected on the profit and loss statement. Take a look at the balance sheet and the statement of cash flows reports.

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

Apr 01, 2014

Law Firm Governance – Firm Administrator With Managing Partner or Management Committee


I am a partner in a 9 attorney firm in Topeka, Kansas. There are three active partners in the firm. For years day to day management has been the responsibility of a managing partner that we appoint from time to time. We have just hired our first firm administrator - starts in two weeks – who is experienced and has worked in other law firms. Should we continue to have a managing partner or consider a different structure?


Typically firms your size that have professional firm administrators empower the firm administrator to manage the business side of the law firm and have either a managing partner, management/executive committee, or all partners manage the client service side of the practice. The firm administrator typically reports to the managing partner, management/executive committee, or all partners. In essence there are three levels of management – the partnership which services like a board of directors, the managing partner or management/executive committee that oversees the professional side of the practice, and the firm administrator that manages the business side of the firm.

I find that in firms your size with firm administrators a three member management/executive committee is more common. Since your firm only has three partners – initially your management/executive committee would be all three partners. As you add more partners you would move toward electing your management/executive committee.

While either form would work in your situation – I suggest you consider eliminating the managing partner position and having the three partners serve as the management committee and have the firm administrator report to that group.

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

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