I am a partner in a 12 attorney general business firm located in St. Louis, Missouri. I was elected as managing partner earlier this year. I have been a lawyer and with this firm for eight years. I also have a MBA degree and managed a small business before becoming a lawyer. Frankly, I have been amazed at how law firms conduct business and I would like to change our thinking and our culture. Do you have any thoughts?
Here are five tips that you might find useful.
TIP #1: Work with the attorneys in the firm and help them develop more of a business mindset. Try to get them to become more entrepreneur and learn how to think like businesspersons. Encourage them to look at the world from their client’s perspective and consider their clients their business partners.
TIP #2: Encourage all attorneys to select their clients carefully. Establish client acceptance criteria. Learn how to say no. Dump undesirable clients.
TIP #3: Encourage all attorneys to brand themselves. Ask them to look for was ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors and to become perceived as the only attorney that can do what they do. Ask them to make a decision - what do they want to be known and remembered for? Unique services, unique client groups, different service delivery strategy, personal style. Have the firm and each attorney create a five-year plan for goal accomplishment.
TIP #4: Encourage each attorney to become “solutions orientated” and become consultants - trusted advisors to their clients as opposed to simply their task and process attorneys. Solutions may involve activities and services other than legal services. Ask each attorney to think out-of-the-box and outside of typical frameworks in which they are comfortable.
TIP #5: Conduct a firm-wide management and leadership assessment and identify strengths and weaknesses. Enhance management and leadership skills through skill development training and personnel acquisitions.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC