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Category Archives: Culture

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Women lawyers in Australia – how you can possibly help

Posted in Australasia, Culture, Diversity, Leadership, Legal Profession, People Strategy, Trust & Respect, Values
You can help women lawyers by completing the surveys referenced in this post - please see the clickable links (Sean Larkan, Edge International)

The President of the Law Council of Australia today published a column in the ALMJ along the lines of the title of this blog post – as a request was made for readers to complete an important survey, and given the importance of the subject-matter and the tight time-frame I have taken the liberty of… Continue Reading

Get Tough on the Little Things and Impact the Big Things

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Management, Personal Effectiveness, Professional Service Firms (PSFs), Values
Allowing partners to consistently be late for meetings, fiddle with mobile devices or take calls, even if done quietly is tantamount to what is depicted here; chaos, rudeness and ultimately will cause a break-down of communication and respect. Leaders need to nip this in the bud and set the example in doing so. (Sean Larkan, Edge International)

Sometimes leaders  need to be tough on some of the little things. These can have significant ramifications which are not always immediately obvious. However, because the benefits are not obvious, or seem unimportant at the time, many leaders don’t address them, also possibly feeling that they don’t want to be ‘petty’. However, as we saw… Continue Reading

Edge Communiqué: women partners, hiring nouse and social media as strategy

Posted in Brand, Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Marketing, Personal Brand, Social Media
Firms are making a dumb mistake when it comes to hiring and promoting female partners

In the April edition of Edge International Communiqué three of my partners address important issues and provide insights and outline opportunities for the legal profession: Jordan Furlong, in “Law Firms and Women Partners: You’re Doing it Wrong‘ emphasises that if firms are following typical practices in how they promote women into equity positions they are missing a strategic… Continue Reading

Silos can be insidious and damaging and come in vertical and horizontal form

Posted in Business Models, Culture, Legal Profession, Management
Silos are insidious; they can develop by stealth both vertically and horizontally and once embedded in your culture and way of doing business, can be difficult to dislodge. Left to mature they can be hugely damaging. The best bet is to recognise the danger, assess your position and start tackling the problem (Sean Larkan graphic - Edge International)

One often hears partners or legal leaders mention ‘silos’ as an issue in their firm. Mostly, firms struggle to deal with this insidious threat that can, by stealth, undermine much of what is good about a firm and over time, cause extensive damage or block progress. Also, once they are embedded in the culture and… Continue Reading

Losing high calibre lawyers or staff – don’t see it for what it isn’t

Posted in Brand, Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, People Strategy
When something bad happens the challenges is always to retain some equinimity and try not to see it for what it is. That doesn't mean not acting, but acting with depth and not on the surface of things in a knee-jerk way

Like finding the toilet roll  empty, or getting a puncture, some things never come at a good time. But, of course, these things do happen so most of us have learned to respond with equanimity and of course maybe even do a little forward planning! The same applies to losing a really top calibre lawyer… Continue Reading

Remember to walk your fence-lines

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, People Strategy, Personal Effectiveness, Professional Service Firms (PSFs), Strategy, Trust & Respect, Uncategorized, Values
As leaders and senior managers we need to constantly remind ourselves to 'walk the fence-lines' of our organisation, keeping in touch with what is truly happening and how people are feeling - also picking up on any great achievements by anyone, or issues which are troubling someone.

My wife and I bought a small farm three years ago. As the grazing was leased out to a beef farmer the quality of the boundary fencing was paramount. The lady we purchased from told me up-front (and has reminded me ever since!) – ‘now Sean, remember to walk your fence-lines‘.  She was essentially saying… Continue Reading

Nothing, but nothing, beats accessibility, courtesy, responsiveness and reliability

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, People Strategy, Personal Brand, Personal Effectiveness, Professional Service Firms (PSFs), Trust & Respect, Values
Nothing beats being accessible, responsive and reliable. You can be the sharpest tool in the workshop, but if you can't be found, don't respond well when used or don't the job you called on to do, people will eventually tire of using you. The same applies to professionals

You can be the brightest spark in the office but if people can never get hold of you, or after they do you take ages to respond or are simply unreliable, no-one is ever sure you will do the job, professionally you are going to do yourself in. I know of one professional who is… Continue Reading

The real leadership lessons of Steve Jobs – just one more thing: PART FOUR (final)

Posted in Brand, Culture, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Personal Effectiveness, Thought Leader, Trust & Respect, Values
'They look so good you kinda wanna lick 'em'

So far we have considered some 18 leadership lessons from Steve Jobs from Parts ONE, TWO and THREE of this series and how they may be relevant for legal leaders – all based on the Walter Isaacson article it the HBR. There are some things however I wouldn’t recommned for legal leaders. So what are… Continue Reading

The real leadership lessons of Steve Jobs – for legal leaders – PART THREE

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Strategy, Vision
Apple comp

As highlighted in PART ONE and PART TWO of this series, there are real leadership lessons for legal leaders from the career, achievements and life of the late Steve Jobs – who in just two stints of 9 and 14 years, founded and then transformed Apple Computer into the world’s most valuable company. These were the lessons… Continue Reading

You gotta feel sorry for those angry, difficult partners!

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Professional Service Firms (PSFs), Trust & Respect, Values
The harsh reality is that you have to deal with truly difficult partners - otherwise they are a lighted fuse waiting to go off in small bursts or maybe, at some stage in a loud and damaging implosion.

It does seem like we have been laying into angry or difficult partners lately – so much so, you (almost) gotta feel sorry for them! (not really, we all know how difficult they can really be and how much time and positive energy they eat up) –  3 recent posts attest to this: Difficult partners… Continue Reading

The real leadership lessons of Steve Jobs – for legal leaders – PART ONE

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Strategy, Vision
Steve Jobs leadership tips for legal leaders

Walter Isaacson, author of the Steve Jobs autobiography, commented in an April 2012 Harvard Business Review article ‘The real leadership lessons of Steve Jobs‘ (subscription required), that following the publication of his book many writers have tried to draw management lessons from Steve Jobs, however, most of them, incorrectly, became fixated rather on the “rough… Continue Reading

Leadership Frame #9: what to do with the difficult cogs in a partnership

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, People Strategy, Values
Difficult partners are tough cogs to fit into the system. Sometimes exit is not an option, particularly where they are highly respected for their work, client management or contributions in other ways. This calls for thoughtful leadership and management.

Some partners are downright difficult. This makes them awkward cogs to fit into the firm set-up,  particularly where they are top producers, run important clients or contribute in other meaningful ways. And let’s face it, all too often they are and do. It is important therefore to work out an approach you can use for… Continue Reading

Leadership Frame #8: difficult partners – what not to do

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, People Strategy, Personal Effectiveness, Values
Difficult partners come in all shapes and forms. It is important that you don't default to bowing to their pressure or avoid them. Try to find the balance and keep the lines of communication open, no matter what.

Difficult partners are tough work. As a professional services firm leader or senior manager, at some stage you are going to be faced with the unenviable task of dealing with one or more. As I am sure you will confirm, they can be gnarly, hard nuts to handle. ‘Difficult’ comes in various shapes and forms…. Continue Reading

Volatile future will demand law firms bring more to the party

Posted in Australasia, Change, Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Strategy, Uncategorized
Whether it be service offerings, fee levels, management of fee-related activities or developing individual brands and thought leadership around industry sector knowledge, law firms will need to think very carefully about what they bring to the client table in future

The challenging future legal and business environment which is widely anticipated will demand a lot more from law firms than providing quality legal advice. This is the view of Ian Robertson, long-standing managing partner of Holding Redlich’s Sydney office, writing in The Australian (apologies; link requires subscription or log-in) recently. This advice backs up on the… Continue Reading

Wall Street Journal’s ‘law firms must merge or die’ revisited

Posted in Australasia, Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Mergers and Acquisitions, Strategy
Merger is not a panacea for reacting to economic, client or competitive pressures. It should be one option considered as part of a carefully thought through vision and strategy and more particularly, the implementation of that (graphic adapted from FT graphic)

In the recent WSJ article “Stark choice for lawyers – firms must merge or die“  author Jennifer Smith reasons that due to client and competitive pressures law firms have a ‘stark choice:  to ‘merge or die’. As a result, she says, there has been a ‘flurry’ of merger deals. The author’s conclusions are hard to reconcile… Continue Reading

Australian law firm offers senior employees opportunity to own shares

Posted in Australasia, Business Models, Culture
Wood slices v2

Employees own shares in this dynamic 105 year old Australian law firm M+K Lawyers, headed up by National Managing Director Damian Paul. M+K has embarked on a remarkable growth strategy around a unique business model and culture. Damian agreed to answer some questions: Sean: Your business model is unique and was the first of its kind… Continue Reading