I am a new administrator in a 17 attorney law firm in the greater Boston area. I am the firm's first administrator and this is the first law firm that I have worked for as a firm administrator. I been on the job for six months and I am struggling. I don't know whether I am living up to the expectations of the partners and I feel like I am lost. I would appreciate your thoughts.
While administrators have made great strides in terms of role and acceptance during the past decade, administrators in firms of all sizes still remain frustrated with:
- Poor, slow, and ineffective decision making
- Ineffective firm leadership and governance
- Internal politics and infighting
- Management by committee
- Lack of influence and ability to effect change
Being the first administrator for a law firm is tough. In additional to proving yourself to your partners you will have the additional task of justifying the position itself. After a few months when the honeymoon is over some partners will start questioning whether the position is necessary and worth the expense. Don't assume that the partners really thought through what their expectations were for the position prior to hiring you. Don't wait for them to manage you - you must take a proactive role - initiate discussions regarding expectations and identify priorities, projects, etc. Look for low hanging fruit when you can enhance revenue or reduce costs in the short term and track any results achieved.
Few things are as important to an administrator’s future as that person’s ability to influence the decision-making process and effect change. Skills and competencies are important but so are results. In order to transcend to the next level and enhance their value to their law firms, administrators must help their firms actually effect positive changes and improvements and improve performance. This requires selling ideas to partners in the firm and having them accept and actually implemented. To succeed administrators must achieve three outcomes:
- Provide new solutions or methods
- The firm must achieve measurable improvement in its results by adopting the solutions
- The firm must be able to sustain the improvements over time.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC