Practice Group Management

Law Firm Profitability Conference

Regular readers know that some of the “evergreen” topics here on Adam Smith, Esq. include: The theme that profits matter more than revenue—but that remarkably few partners think in those terms; The inevitable invasion of Law Land by Big Data in all its many guises and implications; Clients’ having seized the steering wheel out of
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Articles, Finance, Practice Group Management

Accountability? Who, Me?

Russell Long (1918—2003) was a US Senator from Louisiana for nearly 40 years (1948—1987) and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee for nearly half that period. As such, he was an expert on the US tax code and, legend has it, observed that the realities of politics meant any effort to enact “tax reform” could
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Articles, Compensation, Cultural Considerations, Finance, Leadership, Practice Group Management, Recruiting

Partners Behaving Badly

The other day we were in a meeting with the head of strategy and marketing and the Chair of an AmLaw 100, and the Chair mentioned an extremely promising introductory meeting he’d had a few days earlier with the General Counsel of a well-recognized company. Although the GC and the Chair had never met, the company already
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Articles, Client Relationships, Compensation, Cultural Considerations, Leadership, Practice Group Management, Strategy

Letter from Near and Far

Gentle Reader: Apologies for not having published more frequently over the past couple of weeks but business has taken us to Paris, the south of France, London, Portland, and Seattle–with 48 hours in New York inbetween the European and the Pacific Northwest trips. We met with firms ranging from the Magic and Silver Circle to US-based
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Articles, Business Models, Compensation, Cultural Considerations, Finance, Leadership, Partnership Structures, Practice Group Management, Strategy

How Not To Lead

Lately you’ve seen a few columns here on the topic of leadership: Namely, how to do it well. Invoking the equal time rule, today I want to talk about failed, misguided, and destructive leadership, using two examples from very different walks of life. The first, a CEO of a Fortune 50 firm, is a matter
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Articles, Cultural Considerations, Leadership, Practice Group Management

The 5:1 Male/Female Partner Ratio

For those of you who may have missed it, we refer you forthwith to Brian Dalton’s latest column on Above The Law, “Is There a Business Case for More Female BigLaw Partners?” Anyone with a scintilla of conscience can only look at the information presented there with some combination of shame and dismay—if not despair.
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Articles, Cultural Considerations, Leadership, Partnership Structures, Practice Group Management, Recruiting, Strategy

Delusions of Crowds

When a large number of smart, accomplished, ambitious people seem to be behaving in a way that makes no rational sense, there has to be an irrational explanation. I’ve written and spoken before about my overall attitude towards aggressive lateral partner recruitment. As Calvin Coolidge reportedly said, leaving church and asked by a reporter what
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Articles, Compensation, Cultural Considerations, Finance, Leadership, Practice Group Management, Recruiting, Strategy

See Talent. Liberate it.

It’s been viewed online nearly 7 million times. Sheryl Sandberg calls it one of the most important documents ever to come out of Silicon Valley. And it was created by the company whose stock increased in 2013 more than any other’s in the S&P 500—up nearly 350%. “It” is a 126-slide PowerPoint called “Netflix Culture:
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Articles, Compensation, Cultural Considerations, Leadership, Practice Group Management, Recruiting

Hard Conversations 101

One of the thorniest and most convoluted issues any leader has to deal with is telling senior-level underperformers that they’d be better off elsewhere. It calls on every skill in the manager’s trick-bag, from financial analysis to subtler cultural and personality judgments, and accurate perspective on the impact on the organization overall of asking a
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Articles, Cultural Considerations, Leadership, Practice Group Management, Strategy

“Entrepreneurial?” Really?

For years, I’ve been hearing firms describe their cultures as “entrepreneurial,” and I hardly paid the slightest attention. Like “collegial” or “collaborative,” it just seemed like so much white noise. Then finally I heard it once too often and had to face cold reality: I had absolutely no idea what these people—a lot of smart,
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Articles, Leadership, Marketing, Practice Group Management, Strategy