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The Job Description
Managing partners spend a great deal of time defining and refining the job descriptions of their underlings—and this is important. Yet it is even more crucial to have a defined job description for the managing partner—and it is equally important that all partners agree on this job description. If there is no job description, the managing partner should create one and quickly obtain partnership approval thereof. The managing partner’s position is far too crucial to the firm’s well-being to allow for any confusion. Ideally, a managing partner’s job description is set forth in the firm’s partnership agreement, the constitution of the firm. Alternatively, there should be a partnership vote—reflected in the minutes of the firm—defining job responsibilities.
The managing partner’s job description should also be detailed in the firm’s employee handbook—if not in its entirety, at least in summary form—so that there is no confusion on the part of associates and staff as to the managing partner’s role. Although the nature and scope of the managing partner’s position will depend upon a firm’s size, traditions, and culture, the managing partner of any law firm should undertake the following responsibilities.
Developing and Implementing the Firm’s Strategic Plan
When developing a strategic or long-range plan, a firm’s managing partner must take the lead and obtain full partnership support for such a plan. The managing partner should also oversee the plan’s implementation and monitor the firm’s progress in achieving the goals of that plan. The managing partner should also work with individual partners and administrative directors to help them establish their own long-term goals in coordination with the firm’s goals. (The subjects of the strategic plan and goal-setting are discussed in Chapters 2 and 3.)
Managing the Firm
The managing partner serves as the firm’s chief executive officer. Although ultimate authority rests with the partner, the managing partner is responsible for the firm’s overall management. Such overall management encompasses the following responsibilities. The managing partner:
Governing the Firm
The managing partner is responsible for the governance of the firm, including the following:
Representing the Firm
The managing partner acts as the firm’s representative, or ensures that an appropriate firm representative is present at important community and bar events.
Obviously one person cannot possibly perform all of these tasks, especially if that person is also a practicing lawyer serving clients. To be successful, the managing partner must coordinate with individual partners, practice heads, committee chairs, and administrative directors to ensure that all responsibilities are properly performed.
One person is ultimately responsible for the proper performance of each of the above tasks, and this person is the managing partner.