- An interview with the managing partner of Morris James LLP.
Keith E. Donovan is the managing partner and chair of the Executive Committee of Morris James LLP. As managing partner, Keith develops sound business strategies and policies for the firm, oversees firm operations with a strict focus on ensuring superior client service, and leads firm operations. He was elected to this position in January 2018. Keith is recognized by his clients and peers for his plaintiffs’ personal injury practice. He is highly regarded as a skillful and composed trial attorney with sharp analytical skills. Keith is respected for his depth, responsiveness, and ability to see the big picture.
Dawn Sheiker (DS): What career path would you have pursued if you weren’t a lawyer?
Keither Donovan (KD): I was a business management major in college, and during that time, I developed an interest in organizational leadership. If I wasn’t practicing law, I would likely be in the business world.
DS: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
KD: I credit legendary basketball coach John Wooden with a piece of “advice” that I believe – treat everyone in the organization fairly, but not equally. People are complex and every person is different. If you are in a leadership position, you should recognize that different personalities react differently to challenges. It is important to build relationships with your team members so that you understand how best to lead your team. This does not mean that you practice favoritism, but it does mean that one size does not fit all.
DS: What advice would you give a new managing partner?
KD: I am a new managing partner, now in my second year. Our former managing partner gave me great advice: always focus on the best interests of the firm. I would add to that another piece of advice: results matter. Identify specifically the results that matter to your firm; develop a strategy to achieve those results; and have a way to measure the results.
DS: What are the most important/difficult decisions you make as a leader of your firm?
KD: Any decision that is perceived as a change creates organizational anxiety, but we must be willing to commit to decisions that enhance our competitiveness in the market.
DS: What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?
KD: Trustworthiness. Successful leadership requires the trust of everyone in the organization, and trust is earned everyday through every interaction.
DS: What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
KD: You Win In The Locker Room First by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith. It is a great leadership book; and I am a big believer in the relationship between “culture” and organizational success.
DS: If you could have lunch with anyone who would it be?
KD: First, let me be clear—I am a Philadelphia Eagles fan! Having said that, I would like to have lunch with Bill Belichick. I admire the long-term organizational success of the New England Patriots and would love to learn his thoughts on coaching and leadership.