Now, more than ever, law firms are struggling with partner engagement. While some might argue that partner engagement was lagging pre-pandemic, remote work, re-prioritization of personal and professional goals, and approximately two years of a surge in demand for services have exacerbated the problem. Many partners today are mentally opting out of remaining informed about and participating in firm strategy and partnership level management discussions. What are the challenges and risks associated with partner disengagement, and how should firms try to solve it?
For many law firms, the month of June marks the halfway point in the firm’s fiscal year, a time when leaders begin to more closely assess year-to-date lawyer performance trends, refine year-end financial projections, and evaluate the the need for mid-year partner performance messages. Of course, this June is unlike years past. This June, we face a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the broader economy and also within the legal industry.
In the second and third quarters of last year, economic advisers warned of a potential mild to moderate economic downturn in 2020 or 2021, and in light of those concerns we wrote our July Insight, Managing in a Downturn. At that time, no one anticipated the rapid series of events which have impacted the world over the past 4-6 weeks and the global recession we will likely face over the coming months.
Not all revenue dollars are created equal. So, how should firms balance the important role of profitability with the challenges it can create in order to incentivize and encourage partners to pursue more profitable work or to manage the work more effectively?
Equity in law firms carries many meanings. The key to promoting a sense of fairness in partnership thinking about equity is to better define the expectations of full equity owners, while creating space for those high value partners contributing in more individualized ways.