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Law Practice Magazine

The Management Issue

Managing the Whole Firm

Courtney E Ward-Reichard


  • Law firm management presents unique challenges, likened to “herding cats” or “teaching pigs to dance,” and is a key focus area of the ABA's Law Practice Division.
  • Law firm management entails overseeing a multitude of functions, including legal work, marketing, hiring, employee management, technology, client relations and vendor management.
Managing the Whole Firm

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Successful law firm management requires an effective leader, capable of directing an orchestra of functions––legal work, marketing, hiring, management of employees, compensation, technology, client relations, vendor management and more. And doing so while addressing the unique needs and demands of lawyer firm owners; herding cats or teaching pigs to dance are a couple of metaphors that come to mind.

Law firm management is one of the pillars of the ABA’s Law Practice Division––and one of the annual issue topics of Law Practice––because of these unique and ever-changing challenges affecting law firms of all sizes; from a solo law office to a large multinational firm. This issue once again provides essential tools for anyone engaged in law firm management.

We lead off this month with a feature article by Laura Hartnett, entitled “It’s a Process, Not a Plan: Problem Solving for the Future of Legal Work Through Design Thinking.” She suggests applying design thinking concepts to the challenging issue of law firm succession––not just through the lens of who will take over client files when someone departs the firm, but how to pave the way for junior partners and associates to take over firm ownership and management.

Next, Megan McGrew addresses the role of project management techniques in “Adages and Subtraction: Lessening the Administrative Burden of Developing a Succession Plan Through the Use of Legal Project Management.” She suggests ways to apply legal project management techniques to succession planning, such as employing the phases of engagement, development, execution, closing and evaluation.

The theme of succession planning continues with Adam Kilgore’s article “Planning Ahead: Protecting Your Client’s Interest in the Event of Your Disability, Retirement or Death.” All lawyers must stop practicing at some point, but many focus only on a planned exit. Just as important is planning for the unexpected. This article helps provide a framework to protect clients and the firm. 

Kate Ahern moderates a roundtable of the leaders of a group of women-owned law firms, including Nequosha Anderson, Amanda Cialkowski, Andrea S. Kramer and Billie Tarascio. These leaders represent firms of varying sizes and focuses, and they each provide insight into the process of becoming certified as a women-owned firm, and the ways in which focusing on diversity improves the law firm from top to bottom.

Mark Baugh makes the business case for the importance of belonging in “The Importance of Belonging in the Legal Profession.” Diversity, equity and inclusion need the concept of belonging to create a truly effective culture in a law firm, which means addressing belonging in recruiting, onboarding, training, feedback, working hours and ensuring a physical environment of belonging for everyone, especially in a post-pandemic world.

Finally, Tracy LaLonde takes on the implications of excessive workload on mental health in “From Overwhelmed to in Control: Creating a Sustainable Workload for Legal Practitioners.” Lawyers are notorious for overwork and stress. While addressing those pressures is not easy, she provides guidance on how to recognize and address overwork traps.

Thank you to this month’s issue team Kate Ahern, John Bowers and Megan McGrew for selecting and bringing together an excellent group of features! Enjoy!