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Category Archives: Leadership

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Beware the manager who speaks with a forked tongue

Posted in Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Trust & Respect, Uncategorized, Values

As a law firm leader one of your best returns on investment can come from appointing the right support services manager. A good manager can easily make a partner-like contribution or more to a firm. They do need to be the right calibre, the right fit and possess good levels of emotional intelligence and initiative. They… Continue Reading

Leaders and accessibility – don’t just open the door, walk out the door

Posted in Leadership, Personal Effectiveness, Trust & Respect

In a recent post I highlighted the importance of leader accessibility, responsiveness and reliability, effectively saying nothing beats these for importance. A reader suggested I follow up with a note on how a leader can achieve accessibility – here goes with my thoughts. I remember when I was in a managing partner role I thought… Continue Reading

Things we learn from young people

Posted in Leadership, Management, Personal Effectiveness, Uncategorized, Values

Despite the attractive laid-back hippy, flower power and surfing cultures which were around when I was young, our fairly conservative coastal-rural upbringing meant we thought more or less everything there was to learn would come through our parents. As one ‘matured’ one was tempted to think the youth of today had it easier and was… Continue Reading

Your biggest ‘hidden’ law firm expense – and how to turn it into your best return on investment

Posted in Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Partners

It is always fascinating to hear partners talk about firm finances – usually it involves a focus on fee income, very selected expenses and 100% equity partner profit. The expense focus usually hones in on areas where they feel management is wasting money, maybe on marketing, the library, IT or support staff. Mysteriously, there is… 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

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

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

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

Why law firm support service groups don’t add value, and how to fix this

Posted in Brand, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Strategy, Trust & Respect, Uncategorized

Many support service groups in law firms do a fair job of delivering their services and work hard at doing it, but beyond that, do not ‘add value’. That is a fairly common observation we have when we undertake firm reviews for clients and my own experience having run large law firms in three jurisdictions…. Continue Reading

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

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

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

Get to know your clients – or someone else will!

Posted in Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Professional Service Firms (PSFs)

Yes, get to know your clients, or someone else will!  Law firms that fail to obtain regular feedback from their clients run the risk of: not keeping pace with their clients’ needs and expectations – and losing their work. not knowing when a client is unhappy – and losing their work. missing out on lucrative… 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

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 TWO

Posted in Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Vision

Last week I posted PART ONE of a short four-part series on the real leadership lessons of Steve Jobs, based in part on an HBR article (subscription required) of a similar title by Walter Isaacson, author of the Steve Jobs autobiography. We continue the theme today! A number  (but not all) of these provide great leadership and management… Continue Reading

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

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

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

Difficult partners and angry babies have a lot in common – some EQ tips

Posted in Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, People Strategy, Personal Effectiveness

What to do and what not to do with difficult partners was the subject of two recent posts (Leadership Frame #8 & #9). Coincidentally I came across a recent article from Travis Bradberry at Talent Smart (the EQ/emotional intelligence people) and he offered some more tips from an EQ perspective which I thought would be… 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

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 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

Leadership Frame #7: the next challenge – align your various strategies

Posted in Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, People Strategy, Strategy, Uncategorized

Strategies which have been developed by professional service firms for areas such as finance, people, marketing, brand or innovation must align with and support a firm’s overall strategy. This alignment is important for both internal (partner and staff) and external (client and other stakeholder) consumption. Small firms might say this is only for the larger… Continue Reading

Leadership Frame #6: Challenge your vision and strategy

Posted in Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Professional Service Firms (PSFs), Strategy, Vision

Challenging one’s vision and strategy somehow seems counter-intuitive, especially when so much time, effort and thought has gone into putting it together. But strategy is about achieving a competitive, and ideally a dominant positioning, and challenge it you must. Professional Service Firms (PSFs) find determining and reviewing vision and strategy a real bind. A necessary… Continue Reading

Leadership Frame #5: Soft Power leadership for professional service firms

Posted in Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Professional Service Firms (PSFs)

Soft Power leadership may provide a helpful framework of understanding and application for leaders or senior managers of professional service firms (PSF), particularly law firms. Undertaking a leadership role in a PSF has always presented some unique challenges around power and leadership styles.  The reason is that the traditional sources and trappings of power and… Continue Reading

Volatile future will demand law firms bring more to the party

Posted in Australasia, Change, Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Strategy, Uncategorized

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

Slater & Gordon and Russell Jones & Walker tie up confirms law firms as business-savvy innovators, not ‘merge or die’ desperadoes

Posted in Australasia, Brand, Business Models, Leadership, Legal Profession, Mergers and Acquisitions, Strategy, Uncategorized, Values

The world’s first listed legal practice, Australia’s Slater & Gordon (S&G), announced its agreement to buy national UK firm Russell Jones & Walker (RJW) for £53.8 million on the 30 January 2012.  My UK-based Edge International Partner Chris Bull joins me in this post as we consider some of the implications of this transaction and how the respective markets… Continue Reading

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

Posted in Australasia, Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Mergers and Acquisitions, Strategy

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