The best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people.    John Maxwell


Quality decision-making has a great deal to do with shaping the fate of all law firms.  Today’s post focuses on the value of today’s law firm leader engaging the insight and decision-making acumen of seasoned outside business professionals.

Think about it. When we engage in a personal activity that is important to us but for which our experience is lacking, we call on the services of a coach, mentor or guide.

  • On vacation, we often employ a guide to help insure we get the most out of the experience;
  • If you hike in an unknown area, you likely tap the knowledge and experience of one who knows the terrain;
  • An advisor is hired to assist with the creation and monitoring of our financial plan.
  • The guidance and direction of a fitness expert insures we get the most out of time invested in the gym, and ultimately realize objectives.

But what about the often new and unfamiliar challenges that come with the responsibilities of leading a law firm? Unfortunately for most law firms, the senior members of the firm or the leadership body rely solely on their own judgment and relatively limited experience.

In virtually every other business arena, executive leadership has long recognized the value in tapping seasoned and diverse perspectives — especially when facing key decisions related to their organization’s future. That is why so many corporations have a board of directors dominated by professionals from outside their organization.

When you compare the difference in business leadership experience of the typical non-law firm with that of almost every law firm it is startling. And I would argue that the need for outside perspectives for law firms is even greater than other businesses.

Edward Drummond is a UK based executive search firm that recently released the results of a study of the top 100 UK law firms over the last four years. It is telling that this study reports that about a quarter of the UK top 100 use a non-firm member to assist with decision making; and that the firms that utilized this approach realized a growth rate of about a third more than other firms.

The author of the study suggests “To get someone in just for a few days a year often works well for both parties. Having someone with strong commercial experience – sometimes within the FTSE 100 – can really drive growth through commercial experience.”

Tapping the perspective and experience of outside advisors can help design a winning strategy, and accelerate a “leadership orientation” for the law firm management team. The risk is extremely low and the upside is limitless.

Do your firm’s strategic decisions benefit from the wisdom of a seasoned business professional(s)?