Successes and Challenges of a Law Practice Manager - ACAS-LAW

Successes and Challenges
of a Law Practice Manager
My goal is to help unlock your potential for
professional growth and challenge you to take
control of your career.
The simple description of successful law firm
managers is, “they make things happen; they
play a key role in shaping the firm’s business
Peculiarities of Law firms
Professional environment populated with
intelligent and individualistic professionals.
Highly politicised internal structure.
Consensus driven
Short-term focus
Poor investment mindset
Peculiarities of Law firms
Highly pressurised environment because of
Strong bottom-line focus
Strong client focus
Power based on client/revenue generation
Competitive and adversarial approach
Few role boundaries
Bound by precedents
Peculiarities of Law firms
Intolerant of mistakes and are trained to detect
Independence is highly prized.
Lawyers have a particular strong aversion to
taking directions and management is about
directing, controlling, planning, organising.
Keys for success
Know your Landscape. The challenge of
understanding the law firm environment.
Culture is a strange thing, like an iceberg, the
bulk of it is unseen and if you are unaware of it
you could dangerously collide with it instead of
manoeuvring around it.
Solution. Take time to understand and adapt to
the culture of your firm.
Keys for success
Know your place. The challenge of finding
alignment. Do you struggle with unclear roles
and policies in your law firm?
Solution. Clarify your role within the firm.
Successful law practice managers are comfortable
with the No. 2 role, do not need constant
approbation to function, are highly organised and
have a strong service ethic.
Keys for success
Know your authority. The Challenge of
empowerment. Responsibility without
empowerment leads to disenchantment. Most law
firm managers struggle with the issues of
empowerment. They sometimes doubt their
position within the structure. Law firms are very
status driven so this is not an unimportant issue.
Solution. Ensure that you have a meaningful
job title that conveys as much seniority as
possible. Develop your image. Take your
professional development seriously. Join and
become active in a professional association.
Keys for success
Know your letters. The challenge of
communication. Lawyers are skilful
communicators and they expect their managers
to be just as proficient. Effective communication
is critical to your success in a law firm and
lawyers are particularly well trained to spot
Solution. Develop a strategy to continuously
improve your listening, writing and presentation
skills. Practice communicating with smaller
groups. Practice reflective listening. Learn good
body language.
Keys for success
Know who you know. The challenge of
networking. Law firm managers act as bridges
between diverse interests both internally and
externally. There is always the challenge of
managing all the interests.
Solution. Build your social capital. Invest in
acquiring and sustaining meaningful
relationships. Be accessible. Get out of your office
and go talk with the lawyers. Ask questions.
Show genuine personal interest. Send articles on
topics of interest.
It’s not the strongest nor the fastest
nor the most intelligent which
ultimately survives but those capable
of adapting to change. Charles