I am a partner in a twelve attorney firm in Downers Grove, Illinois. We have 8 partners and four associates. We are managed by committee of the hole - all partners are involved in all decisions. We have been considering moving to an executive committee. How do we set it up?
How you setup your executive committee will be key to the success of the management plan. How you setup and constitute your executive will be crucial. Selecting the right partners is paramount. How the partners are selected, who serves on the committee, how the committee operates, and other matters must be spelled out and communicated to all partners. Here are a few ideas:
- Consider a three member executive committee.
- Elect members to staggered three-year terms. On the initial election elect the individual with the most votes to a three- year term, the individual with the second most votes to a two-year term, and the individual with the least votes to a one- year term.
- Hold elections annually to fill vacancies for the upcoming year.
- Consider adopting a policy of requiring a partner whose term has expired to remain off the committee for one year before being able to run for another term.
- Incorporate procedures for removal of members by majority vote of the partners. Specify the voting requirements.
- Outline the decisions that are reserved for full partnership vote, decisions to be made by the executive committee, and decisions to be made by the office administrator.
- Develop a job description for the partnership, the executive committee, and the office administrator incorporating the above.
- The committee should elect a chair annually, meet monthly with a prepared agenda, and have written published minutes or notes of what transpired at the meeting, action items to be taken, and who is responsible.
- The firm administrator should attend all meetings except when his or her performance is being discussed.
The key ingredient of a successful executive committee is that partners perceive the committee as competent, fair and without personal agendas, and that it gets things done in a timely and efficient manner. The process is as important as the outcome.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC