Our strategy work with law firms is focused on planning for the future. Three to five years ago our strategy work often involved developing a 2020 vision and strategy – 2020 had a nice ring to it. Now we have arrived in 2020 and the future is today.
Every firm likely has a sacred cow or two or three. The challenge, and the opportunity, is to make sure those sacred cows continue to serve the firm well over time.
While the precise timing of a downturn may be impossible to predict, it is important for law firm leaders to prepare well in advance, and that time is now. It is unlikely that the next downturn will be as sharp or as lengthy as the crisis of 2008, but law firms are increasingly sensitive to market forces, so preparation is critical.
The value of strong law firm leadership is at a premium today and while many firms have sought to develop younger partners as leaders, some of these individuals are opting out because law firm leadership appears to be too great a sacrifice. Ensuring that the right partners are serving in the roles and avoiding future leadership gaps will require addressing leadership disincentives today.
As law firms continue to face a rapid rate of change in the legal industry, strong leadership will be critical to agile and effective decision-making, and too great of an emphasis on democracy will hamper firms in their efforts to compete and adapt to the changing marketplace. By defining the appropriate leadership criteria and selection processes and investing in partner consultation and leadership development – firms can better balance historically democratic partnership models with the stronger leadership models required to succeed in the future.