Confronting the six big challenges of client mindsets and perceptions

Corporate clients often have poor perceptions of lawyers and their firms. I outline below the six main negative mindsets which in-house counsel have about law firms and offer some possible solutions. 1. Lawyers are self-serving At a recent meeting I held with a group of in-house counsel, general distrust was expressed of law firms’ billing practices. I was surprised by the level of suspicion that law firms will always seek their own advantage in recording hours, finding exceptions to fixed-price deals and allocating work between partners and associates to their own benefit rather than the ...
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Seven ways to address common obstacles to internal projects

Law firm partners and leaders often come up against obstacles to the implementation of agreed strategic projects. Below are four of the issues which can quickly turn into obstacles and seven ways to address them. Barriers to change 1. Multi-faceted change initiatives Changing profit sharing is a classic example of a situation in which the issues of personal change and organisational change overlap. People tend to resist change most when personal change, organisational change and macro change – political, economic, social and technological change – are taking place at the same time and overl...
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Three ways to revive difficult strategic projects

Many law firms will have conducted some form of strategy review within the last five to ten years. This makes many partners of law firm and indeed their leaders somewhat resistant to further reviews especially if much of the previous strategy remains unfulfilled or in cases where the more intractable strategic initiatives have stubbornly resisted implementation satisfactorily or at all. Failure to implement can become a vicious circle. If the firm has a history of uncompleted projects, partners will tend to keep their heads down when a new project is introduced and bide their time until yet an...
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Getting Things Done – Bridging the Gap between Concept and Action

A methodical and practical approach to convert dreams into reality and aspirations into action Most professionals – lawyers, accountants, doctors and academics – are invariably quick to pick up and understand concepts.  As intellectual workers, we are trained to reason, to analyse, to diagnose, and to create solutions.  Transferring concept to action, however is less easy particularly for lawyers totally subsumed in their legal work.  Strategic and business planning can accordingly become an abstract piece of work, the perfect and glossy documentation of which may well end up filed in a dra...
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Lessons for Big Law Firms from Sole Practitioners

Big firms enjoy many benefits. There are clearly huge efficiencies to be exploited from a well-resourced organisation and, a multi-lawyer business model ought to lead to much greater profitability than most sole practitioners can expect.  Partners in big firms, however, insulated and protected by advanced systems, professional management and the comfort of co-workers, often lose sight of some of the harsh realities that face sole practitioners who spend much of their time at or near the front line of battle There are at least three areas where lawyers in larger practices can learn from the ...
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International Alliances: How They Work, What They Deliver and Whether to Join

By Nick Jarrett-Kerr Sheltering under the global umbrella of a leading network or alliance has long been a favoured option for independent law firms. It gives them the best of all worlds by maintaining their own autonomies, their own brands and their distinctive identities at the same time as appearing to be part of something a lot bigger. There are a great many international networks and alliances from which to choose; Martindale Hubbell lists over 100 law firm alliances. Of these, there are 14 “large” networks with more than 100 law firm members and a further 13 that count between 50...
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Business Planning For Practice Groups And Individuals

Surveys and studies show a link between planning and performance: even brief, informal and straightforward business plans help firms perform at a higher level than those that make no plans. To reap the full benefit that business plans can deliver, follow these guidelines for the preparation and implementation of law firm, practice group, and individual business plans. Read Article  Download Article
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Cooking up a Business Plan

Cooking up a Business Plan I have noticed that firms often make one or other of two common mistakes when undertaking strategic and business planning.  I have written a lot about the importance of exploring Strategic Intent (Identity, Purpose and Vision) in order to establish the firm’s high level strategy.  But a basic and preliminary mistake is to go through the Strategic Intent exercise and then to think the job is done.  If that mistake is made, the firm’s strategy will remain at a conceptual and aspirational level. The second mistake made by some law firms is to treat strategic planning ...
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LMS Business Planning Toolkit

This Business Planning Toolkit is designed to help practitioners to understand how to draft and implement business plans, including plans for individuals, teams and the firm, and through all stages including securing buy-in and reviewing the plan following initial implementation. The toolkit is written by Nick Jarrett-Kerr with additional case studies by managing partners at three Section member firms. Read Article  Download Article
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