Managing Law Firms in Transition

Managing Law Firms in Transition

Category Archives: Law Firm Warning Signs

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Five Warning Signs That Your Law Firm is Headed for Uncertain Times

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Growth, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Succession, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
As business organizations go, law firms are different because they can face greater stability challenges.  Sure, law firms with iconic names seem to rock along year after year.  But for every bedrock firm there are others that struggle to survive.  And even some of the firms regarded for their steady state are like the proverbial… Continue Reading

Is it Time? Five Developments That Demand Action from Law Firm Leaders

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
Running a law firm successfully is no easy task.  It is a multi-dimensional effort that requires leadership, discipline, vision, and some luck.  Getting all firm lawyers to row a boat in unison can be tough.  Even if some of the oars irregularly go into the water, progress is still possible. When attentive leaders work hard… Continue Reading

Five Key Metrics for Grading Your Law Firm’s Annual Performance

Posted in Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
A law firm report card is a good thing.  Much like a child’s school report card telling a parent how school is going, a law firm report card can inform firm leadership about its progress, shortfalls, and areas that need improvement.  In these days of industry disruption and heightened competition, periodic assessments can give a… Continue Reading

Law Firm Health in Turbulent Times

Posted in Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle. – Napoleon Hill As the economy begins to show signs of volatility, it may foreshadow risk for many law firms.   Additional market disruption may lead to challenges for firms of all sizes and in most practice disciplines. In a Forbes article, Basha Rubin suggested… Continue Reading

Underperforming Law Firms Risk Failure

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year. — John Foster Dulles Former Secretary of State    We’ve Got Trouble…With A Capital “T” Most law firms go through a similar cycle. Initially partners share an almost blind… Continue Reading

Five Reasons for Law Firms to Think About a Merger in 2018

Posted in Law Firm Growth, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Merger, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Succession, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
There is much to do when a law firm closes out its year.  Getting bills out, collecting receivables, paying bonuses, and distributing profits are but a few of the things that get the attention of leadership.  As long as the firm’s year has moved along normally, finishing up strong often is the main focus of… Continue Reading

Five Common Mistakes Law Firms Make When Entering a New Market

Posted in Law Firm Growth, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
A dynamic law firm growth tactic involves opening an office in a new geographic market.  To move a firm into virgin territory requires careful thought about issues that go beyond simply hiring new lawyers.  Indeed, expanding a firm’s footprint requires many considerations, including good intelligence about the new market’s practice characteristics, bar personality and mores,… Continue Reading

Five Signs Your Law Firm Needs New Energy

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
Law firms that lack energy dim their prospects for the future.  Too often law firms pass over the issue of their own vibrancy (whether by a failure of recognition or simple indifference) and plod along without taking corrective action.  A becalmed law firm, especially in these times of legal industry disruption, is flirting with danger.… Continue Reading

Scoping Out Future Law Firm Upheaval-Four Places to Look

Posted in Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs, Uncategorized
Law firms perpetually are in transition. In our changing legal environment, transition can arise when business strategy requires adjustment, merger is considered, layoffs are implemented, lateral hiring is pursued, leadership succession is at hand (see Cultivating the Next Generation), crisis arises or firm wind-up is decided and implemented. In addressing any transitional event and the… Continue Reading

Four Signs Your Law Firm is Not Ready for Leadership Succession

Posted in Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Succession, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
At many law firms that recognize the need for succession planning, preparation for leadership succession receives too little attention. Succession planning can languish for various reasons. In some instances, the press of regular law firm business distracts existing leadership from the issue. In other cases, the topic is an uncomfortable one so discussions are avoided.… Continue Reading

Small Law Firms and Rough Seas-Navigating the Years Ahead

Posted in Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
As December ends and January dawns, report cards on the legal profession are issued and crystal balls are studied. This year is no different with many articles offering assessments of the industry’s current state and its prospects. Two pieces recently written about the industry’s present and the future are worth review. Mark A. Cohen’s Something’s… Continue Reading

Avoiding the Unplanned Law Firm Closure-Five Steps Every Law Firm Should Take

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Liquidation, Law Firm Succession, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
As the calendar year comes to a close, there is a lot to do at most law firms. Activities like collecting bills, distributing profits and casting next year’s budget can occupy many a leadership team. The tasks at hand can be time consuming and all engrossing. Given the importance of these short-term issues, thinking about… Continue Reading

Denial and Turning Around The Troubled Law Firm

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
Hope is the denial of reality – Margaret Weis       As a law firm in decline continues to struggle, there are two primary scenarios in which denial furthers the rate, or degree, of decline: undervaluing the risk associated with a significant undertaking; or disregarding mounting evidence of decline. Denying the Risk Associated With… Continue Reading

Is Your Law Firm Slipping Into Trouble

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never! Winston Churchill   The first key… Continue Reading

Law Firm Capital Contributions-How Healthy an Investment?

Posted in Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Warning Signs
Recent commentary on trends among law firms has highlighted the increasing popularity of requiring greater capital contributions from owners. As Law.com‘s Nell Gluckman notes, instead of capital requirements in the 20-25% range as was common for years, law firms more frequently are jacking up the owner capital requirements into the 30-35% level. In some cases,… 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

Another Record Year for Law Firm Mergers-Reasons Your Law Firm Should Not Be Next

Posted in Law Firm Growth, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Merger, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
In a newly posted piece, Casey Sullivan‘s Law Firm Mergers Reach Highest Point in Nearly a Decade reports that 2016 is to be yet another record year for law firm mergers.   As the cascade of announcements show (as well as the Altman Weil research compiled in its Mergerline), merger as a law firm strategy has gained… Continue Reading

No Muss No Fuss Law Firm Closure

Posted in Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Liquidation, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
Growth among law firms generates headlines. Legal publications report on a merger here, a planting of a law firm flag there and the lateral moves of significant practice groups. The thing about growth is that it is a planned exercise-an initiative that is a matter of choice based on strategy. The opposite of growth, a… Continue Reading

Law Firms that Focus on Growth-Where is the Focus?

Posted in Law Firm Growth, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
Dentons and McKenna Long recently announced the intent to merge.  Media reporting of the merger was substantial, including an April 8, 2015 article written by Sara Randazzo in The Wall Street Journal.   In her Dentons, McKenna Long to Merge, Ms. Randazzo quoted Denton’s global chairman Joseph Andrew as stating, “[O]ur goal was not only to… 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

Law Firm Succession Planning-The Unfunded Pension Plan

Posted in Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Succession, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
For more than a few AmLaw 200 law firms, non-qualified retirement plans exist that are largely unfunded. Although “a good idea at the time” when established, the plans now can represent a significant burden. As James Cotterham wrote in his Retirement Basics for Law Firms a decade ago, the unfunded pension plans can be a… Continue Reading

The Troubled Law Firm-A Bold Move and the Five Truths

Posted in Law Firm Crisis, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Repositioning/Turnaround/Restructuring, Law Firm Transition, Law Firm Warning Signs
Recently, in Staring Down the Catastrophic Claim, Part One and Part Two, I wrote about the difficult issues presented to a firm when a claim of catastrophic dimensions is asserted or threatened. Those posts identified the characteristics that factor into the ability of a firm to survive such a claim. With strong leadership, a strong… Continue Reading
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