“Law firm disasters are almost always of the man-made variety…. Once a storm is brewing, add the fact that as business organizations go, a law firm is among the most fragile, and you have the climate for a series of catastrophic events.”

            from Decisions That Matter: Tales of Law Firm Leadership in Moments of Consequence

The typical press release announcing a law firm merger extolls the excitement, the opportunity to have one plus one equal three, and the great fit of culture, practices and people.  It’s perfect until it is not.  In fact, by some measures more than half of all law firm mergers fail. When the realization sets in that your law firm merger is a bad one and not the combination of your dreams, what can you do?

Besides whistling past the graveyard, you’ve got to do something.  And while a solution stimulated by panic is not recommended, prompt action is advisable. As action plan options go, the following three options generally are presented and often are considered:


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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

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

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

For many law firms, succession to the next generation presents a formidable and daunting challenge.  Leadership may have been too busy to plan ahead for succession.  Turnover at the firm may have dealt a blow to the goal of grooming someone to step in as the next leader.  Sometimes the next generation’s business development abilities

Tis the season, but holidays are not involved.  Rather, market forces, activity and trends confirm that law firm merger is on the minds of law firms.  While mergers once seemed to happen mostly around the start of the year, the complexity of the merger exercise means mergers can happen at any time.  And even for

“A discord of personalities” sometimes describes the genesis for marital divorce.  It also can be an apt way to explain law firm break-ups when partners decide to go their separate ways.  Although law firm break-ups happen regularly, the low level of publicity surrounding most can be due to partners acting rationally even though they can’t

Law firm crisis can surface at any time.  Its roots can be deep within the firm, or can be the outcome of unforeseen developments. However, or whenever it arises, the affected law firm must react promptly and strategically. A tardy reaction, or a misstep in action, can leave a firm in great danger and on

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.