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Law Practice Magazine

The Management Issue

Law Firm Management

Mary E Vandenack


  • The Law Practice Division provides valuable information to support the business side of the law.
  • Don’t delay seeking leadership and management training.
  • Effective law firm management includes focus on client satisfaction, leadership, talent management, financial stability, technology adoption and corporate social responsibility.
Law Firm Management

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For 20 years, I managed the law firm that I founded. During that time, there were times when the firm was very small and there were other times when we grew beyond what we had ever planned. My partner and I had always planned on remaining small, light and lean. One of the things we learned early on was the importance of dedicating time to management. We both loved practicing law. Focusing on management wasn’t as easy for us. I am not much for looking back but if I was to do it over again, I would have sought training in both leadership and management much earlier than I did. In addition, I would have sought to be clear about my strengths and weaknesses and hire those who complemented them so that, as a group, we would have had all the key components.

A successful law firm requires making sure that clients are satisfied, that employees are engaged and that the firm is financially stable. Growth must be strategic. The business and technological sides of law are evolving rapidly, and firms must adapt and implement sound management practices to thrive.

Central to law firm management is structuring the firm so that clients are the heroes in the story. There are the services that law firms offer but what is really important is whether and how those services will make the lives of our clients better. Part of law firm management is developing internal skills and processes to ensure client satisfaction. Embracing technology can streamline processes, enhance accessibility and improve client experiences, ultimately fostering long-term relationships.

Effective management sets the tone for the law firm. Management should inspire confidence, provide vision, develop a collaborative and supportive culture while at the same time requiring accountability. Innovation should be encouraged and those who effectively participate on teams should be rewarded. By leading through example and prioritizing ethical standards, leaders cultivate a positive work environment where individuals can thrive and contribute meaningfully to the firm's success. 

The most valuable assets of any firm are its people. Management should structure the firm to attract top talent. Just as the clients should be heroes in their stories, employees should be heroes in their stories. Create an environment where employees can thrive. Foster a culture of continuous learning. Promote diversity and inclusion. Cultivate a dynamic workforce equipped to tackle challenges.

Sound financial management is essential to long-term sustainability of law firms. Lawyers do need to be involved in budgeting and monitoring even when the firm has a great CFO. Robust billing practices should be implemented. Expense management and cash flow should be managed effectively. It may be important to diversify streams of revenue.

Effective management must embrace technology. Artificial intelligence is resulting in significant changes in the practice of law and resources. Cutting-edge tools for different practice areas are evolving quickly and law firm management requires staying aware of and leveraging these developments.

Effective law firm management is multifaceted, encompassing various aspects such as client satisfaction, leadership, strategic planning, talent management, financial stability, risk management, technology adoption and corporate social responsibility. By being proactive in incorporating significant issues into management strategy, law firms can succeed in a fast-moving legal landscape.

I’m proud to be part of the Law Practice Division and to be part of a team that seeks to deliver information to lawyers to support the business side of the law. As usual, our management issue offers a wide variety of information on topics of importance to law firm management.