Managing Law Firms in Transition

Managing Law Firms in Transition

Category Archives: Law Firm Crisis

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Is Your Law Firm in Transition

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring
  With the on-going market challenges associated with the legal profession, firm leadership is smart to periodically stop and evaluate the state of the firm. Is it in a transitional state? Here are four questions that can help serve as a baseline diagnostic. Is your firm: Facing a decision that addresses the fundamental way the… Continue Reading

5 Easy Steps to Destroying a Perfectly Good Law Firm

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Growth, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring
It has become an all too frequent occurrence — the story of yet another law firm closing its doors. The headlines rarely convey everything — displaced personnel, inconvenienced clients, and the pain and disruption for the firm’s owners. What drives this result? How has this become almost commonplace? I believe any one of five things… Continue Reading

Kirkland’s Attrition is a Case Study for All Law Firms, Big and Small

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Growth, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
The American Lawyer article about recent attrition at Kirkland & Ellis gained attention in no small part because Kirkland’s reputation for success runs counter to the idea that people want to leave. While departures from even the most successful firms is inevitable, the depth of attrition at Kirkland reported by The American Lawyer was surprising.… Continue Reading

A Five Step Process For Turning Around the Small to Medium Sized Law Firm

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring
Bold headlines tend to focus on the spectacular failures. But consequential transition — even crisis — are equally traumatic for the small to medium sized law firm. Given the fact that fewer partners must carry the load, the impact across the smaller firm may be even more intensely felt. If you are part of the… Continue Reading

Seeing Softness in Demand? Steps for Law Firm Stability

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition
One current report signals that the legal services market is suffering from a decline in demand. Reed Smith’s inabilities to keep its full complement of lawyers busy lead it to layoff 45 lawyers recently. According to Peter Zeughauser of the Zeughauser Group, other firms have been stealthily bleeding layoffs here and there for some time. Altman… Continue Reading

Like Divorce, Law Firm Crisis is More Likely as the New Year Starts-Reprised

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition
(This post previously appeared on January 15, 2015 and noted some of the similarities between marital divorce and one of the more extreme forms of law firm transition-breakup.  As we reach the end of 2015, for some firms the joy of another year completed may be supplanted by the tension and stress that often accompanies a… Continue Reading

Law Firms With Diverging Interests-Five Notions For Law Firms “Calling it a Day”

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Liquidation, Law Firm Succession, Law Firm Transition
Succession planning is an issue that many law firm managers worry about. They ask whether their firm has done enough planning, whether the pool of successors is deep and whether the firm will be stable when transition to new leadership happens. Because succession planning is so important to many of today’s law firm leaders, we’ve… Continue Reading

Crisis and the Law Firm Leader

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring
Every single business, if it is around long enough, will face a time of crisis. Law firms are no exception. Whether a series or a single event, crisis comes with a handful of pivotal moments. Mishandled, these moments can threaten the very existence of any organization. If you’re managing a law firm you know that… Continue Reading

Lawyer Exodus From the Law Firm: Don’t Get Mad, or Even, Get Focused

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition
Unexpected lawyer departures from a law firm are a far too common occurrence as noted by Above the Law’s recent reporting on K&L Gates.  It can happen at any time during the year but many times peaks around the end of a fiscal year.  Whether it be disappointing financial results, political infighting, loss of confidence… Continue Reading

The Law Firm Lease and Testing Shared Aspirations

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring
Other than when a firm is being formed, there is no better or more organic time to test a law firm’s continued commitment to one another than when nearing the expiration of an office lease. Typically, when a firm is formed, two or three or a handful of individuals gravitate to one another, become increasingly… Continue Reading

You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’: A Story of Law Firm Failure

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition
As we continue to see law firms fail, and dramatic efforts at restructuring continue at a heady pace, market analysts can’t help but look for a common denominator. Is there a quantifiable predictor of tomorrow’s troubled law firm? While a number of things can push a firm into a transition mode, there seems to be… Continue Reading

Law Firm Departures: A Likely Source of Disputes

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Transition
Most law firms approach their practices optimistically-with a kind of “glass is half-full” outlook.  Getting business, building client relationships and creating a brand typically are a firm’s focus rather than thinking about failure or disaster.  That is especially so when law firms form.  Future developments like mass departures or dissolution usually do not enter into… Continue Reading

Law Firm in Crisis-Five Things to Know and Remember

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
Law firm crisis can pop up at anytime during the year, but if it had a “season” it would be early on in the calendar. As I wrote in Like Divorce, Law Firm Crisis is More Likely as the New Year Starts, the beginning of each year is when key lawyers cut and run, disappointed… Continue Reading

Like Divorce, Law Firm Crisis is More Likely as the New Year Starts

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
In his January Divorce Rush Dates Back to the Middle Ages, Frederik Pederson examines the annual spike in English divorces every January and traces the phenomenon back to the Middle Ages. His research into the records of medieval church courts is interesting and supports his thesis. Mr. Pederson’s article backs the view that whatever the… Continue Reading

Year End At the Law Firm-When the Best Laid Plans Can Go Astray

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Transition
As law firms work their year-end activities, there is much to do. Collecting bills, awarding bonuses, budgeting for the coming year, promotions, evaluations, and in some cases, compensation setting, are among the things on law firm agendas. Focused firms also begin, continue or complete identifying their strategic imperatives for 2015 so that the New Year… Continue Reading

Distressed Law Firm Acquisitions-The Times May Be Perfect (Part Two)

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Liquidation, Law Firm Merger, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition
As reviewed in Part One last week, the example of the Morgan Lewis/Bingham McCutchen mass lateral transaction may serve to stimulate the pursuit of distressed firms by healthy firms. Although distressed law firm transactions are nothing new, the model of that deal plus two new legal developments may foster greater distressed law firm activity. The first… Continue Reading

Office Space and Law Firm Stability

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Growth, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition
Reports vary on the degree to which the business of law is recovering or improving; but few question the fact that competitive pressures are growing, thanks to: Decreased demand due to more matters being kept in-house, Increased pricing pressure, Outsourcing of routine tasks to low-cost providers half-way around the world; and, Increased competition from non-law… Continue Reading

Distressed Law Firm Acquisitions-The Times May Be Perfect (Part One)

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Merger, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition
This is the first of two installments that examine the changing landscape of distressed law firm acquisitions and how recent developments may encourage healthy firms to pursue struggling firms like never before. Last week, the long-anticipated Morgan Lewis acquisition of a core component of Bingham McCutchen’s practice was announced. Described as a mass lateral acquisition as opposed… Continue Reading

Strong Leadership and Sound Strategy: Law Firm Success in Transitional Times

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Transition
Some recent news and commentary drives home the idea that the legal industry and its law firm participants are facing transition. Jennifer Smith of The Wall Street Journal reported that more law firm clients are insourcing-taking in work heretofore performed by outside counsel. That development, by some accounts impacting large law firms in particular, occurs… Continue Reading

Unwanted Law Firm Departures While Negotiating a Merger-A Test of Leadership

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Growth, Law Firm Merger, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition
Law firm mergers seemingly are announced weekly and continue a trend as to which most observers are accustomed.  Just last week Locke Lord and Edwards Wildman Palmer jointly announced the signing of a letter of intent to combine their two firms. Not all law firm mergers are marriages of equals, or instances when the strategic… Continue Reading

Law Firm Transition-Timing is Critical

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Growth, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition
Legal industry veteran Eric Fletcher takes the view that law firms perpetually are in transition. Certainly, in the changing legal environment that has existed since 2008, transition among law firms is common. Law firms in transition can face any number of business altering decisions, whether they be fundamental adjustments to its business strategy, considering merger,… Continue Reading

Law Firm Merger-A Succession Planning Alternative

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Growth, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Merger, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Succession, Law Firm Transition
In recent years, law firm mergers have been on the uptick and do not seem to be abating.  Big mergers reap a lot of publicity because the firms joining together often have household names. But as Catherine Ho reports, not all the law firm mergers involve the behemoths that grab the headlines. Ms. Ho’s Law Firm… Continue Reading
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