Managing a law firm is no easy task, made only more difficult by the multitude of changes in the legal profession: Generational changes, the Great Resignation and the increase in remote work are just a few of the challenges facing law firm leaders. The resources of the ABA’s Law Practice Division are more important than ever for those managing law firms of all sizes—especially the many helpful features and columns in this issue of Law Practice.
Our feature authors in this issue focus on many different aspects of law firm management—in many different settings. All provide useful insights for law firm managers, both new and seasoned.
In “The Actualized Workplace,” Anne E. Collier and Mary E. Vandenack explore the importance of an actualized culture in the workplace. Leaders and managers need to manage culture with consistent, everyday actions—addressing problems as they arise and creating daily opportunities for promoting a positive culture. An actualized culture is an even higher goal, and the authors provide a terrific road map of eight essential management skills to build an actualized law firm.
Charity Anastasio takes on law firm succession planning in “Succession Planning: Bringing Your People on the Journey.” Traditional succession planning no longer fits many practices, particularly for growing firms with lateral hires in the “Great Reshuffling.” Charity provides insight into the many facets of ensuring continuity in the new normal.
Speaking of the Great Resignation/Reshuffling, retaining staff continues to be a significant challenge in many firms. In “Understanding the Dynamics of Staff Retention,” Paul White explains the reasons many staff departures stem from emotional, not logical, reactions. With that knowledge, effective leaders and managers can seek to reduce departures through proactive actions to create a culture of appreciation and relationships that will encourage employees to stay.
Mentoring is an essential component to career success—and retention—but matching mentees with the right mentor, and maximizing the relationship, is also a continual challenge for leaders. Thomas H. Barnard outlines an effective mentoring strategy in "Practical Tips to Maximize Mentoring Relationships"—starting with explaining the important differences between mentors, leaders, role models and teachers, and then providing a guide to choosing a good mentor and making the relationship work for mentor and mentee.
Remote work was the norm in the pandemic and has forever changed law practice as many firms continue allowing remote work on a full- or part-time basis. Catherine Sanders Reach has contributed an article on “Tips for Successful Management of Remote Employees,” which provides a framework for managing tasks and guidelines for access to information and communicating with a remote workforce.
Finally, Laura L. Keeler takes on the challenge of addressing chronic stress among employees in “Legal Leaders, Embrace Your Role to Improve Legal Workplaces.” She posits that persistent stressors have been ignored and impact everyone in the workplace. Managers need to address workplace environments that contribute to stress, and Laura gives several examples of initiatives to promote wellness, including the importance of downtime and vacations.
Law practice is constantly evolving, and law firm management needs to evolve, too. We hope this issue of Law Practice will provide tools to better manage a firm in these changing environments.