Leadership Strategy

Five lessons for new managing partners

There’s a firm in Texas I’ve had my eye on for a while – Munsch Hardt Kopft & Harr.  I met their talented Marketing Manager, Maria Lianez, at a TAGLaw legal network conference earlier this year. What struck me about the firm is their fresh approach.

This morning I took a moment to visit their site and came across an excellent article by their chairman and CEO Glenn Callison that was published in the Texas Lawyer journal. The title “Five Lessons For New Managing Partners” caught my attention.  Here is a quick summary of Callison’s top top five points:

1. Know who you are – conduct a complete evaluation of the firm’s two key assets: people and relationships.

2. Determine where you are going – engage in top to bottom strategic planning.

3. Understand how the firm measures success – use several measurement tools AND examine subjective elements such as client statisfaction and firm morale.

4. Realize leadership is by consensus and example – in law firms, in particular small to mid-sized firms, effective leadership comes through continuous communication and leading by example “rather than any power inherent in the CEO or managing partner position”.

5. Accept that change is constant – the non-stop stream of change is what quickly fills a managing partners cup to overflowing.  Associates leaving the firm, associates joining the firm, compensation issues, technology issues, and 101 other necessary and time consuming bits of business can rapidly overwhelm new managing partners. Callison’s advice for the new managing partner? “Manage by looking forward, not by looking in the rear-view mirror.”

One of my favorite sections of the article is point three. It is often easy to confuse the measurement with the object measured. Law firms are complex organisms. To really begin to understand how they are working, it is crucial to measure them in a variety of ways and over at least a five year period of time (if possible), and to consider these results along with more subjective information such as client satisfaction, retention issues, office morale. Look for the gaps between what is being said and what is actually being done.

My thanks to Glen Callison for sharing these gems with us.   

About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at allison@shiftworks.ca or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.