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Mar 01, 2011

What Makes an Effective Law Firm Managing Partner or Administrator?


I was just elected as our firm’s managing partner. I will still maintain a full client practice as well. We have a total of 14 attorneys, nine of which are partners. I will be the firm’s first managing partner. Previously we all weighed in on every single decision. While I have been a practicing attorney for twenty years I have no prior management experience in law firms or elsewhere. What skills will I need to develope to be effective in this job?


Congratulations on your new role! Effective law firm managing partners:

  1. Ask – what needs to be done.
  2. Ask – what is right for the firm.
  3. Develop and implement action plans.
  4. Take responsibility for their decisions.
  5. Take responsibility to communicating.
  6. Focus on opportunities rather than problems.
  7. Run productive meetings.
  8. Think and say we rather than I.
  9. Are “Firm First” focused rather than Lone Rangers “Me First” focused.
  10. Know that you have to spend money to make money and encourges the firm to invest in the firm’s future.

The first two practices will provide you with the knowledge and insight about the firm that you will need. The next four will help you convert knoweldge into action. The next four will ensure that the whole firm is responsible and accountable.

Early on, as you transition into your managing partner role, you and the firm should formulate a constitution (governance plan) for the firm which outlines roles and decision-making rules for the partnership, your position, and other management or administrative positions in the firm. In order for this new structure to be successful you and the firm must:

  1. Stop talking about the firm’s future destination, and start thinking about the rules that all firm members will have to live by in order to get there; and
  2. Confirm that firm members are, in fact, prepared to be held accountable and live by these rules.

Rome was not build in a day. Your new structure and role will take take time. Be patient and it will all come together.

Click here for our blog on governance

Click here for my article on leadership


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

Posted at 09:01 PM in Governance, Partnership
Tags: Administrator, Leadership, Management, Managing Partner

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