By LPM Section Chair Tom Grella
When your partners are ready to retire, will your firm be ready to fund the lifetime stream of retirement income that was promised? Scenarios and possible solutions for law firms to consider.
I am a regular reader of InfoWorld magazine. Perhaps it's because I can subscribe for free, but I imagine the real reason is that I like to consider myself a legal technology geek. If the content of InfoWorld is any indication of my actual knowledge in this area, however, I may think too highly of myself. Generally, I only understand about 10 percent of the content of each issue.
Regardless, in the April 10, 2006, InfoWorld, there was an article titled "No Sweat Guide to Overcoming Chaos" by Dan Tynan. The article proposes that leaders in technology areas (whom Tynan calls "IT Pros") should not allow their users, or themselves, to get married to any particular technology. Tynan believes that the only constant in the field of technology is change itself. Because of this, IT Pros (whom he says are usually "more task oriented and conflict averse") need to be able to accept and manage change. A sidebar to the article provides 10 tips for doing so. Giving due credit to Tynan, I'd like to suggest a few of his tips for your consideration (they are not IT-specific), with respect to leadership in your law practice, be it a large, small or solo firm, or any other legal organization or community of which you are a part:
"Spread the word." Changes should never be a secret. Providing full, open and honest information to others will minimize erroneous gossip.
"Speak with one voice." Leaders need to be consistent in their message to those in the organization, and members of the leadership team need to make sure their message is consistent with the message of others on the team.
"Encourage feedback." It is better to have discontent out in the open than brewing behind the scenes.
"Think strategically." Every organization needs to take a long-term view of change. Any organization that is not changing is dying. Realize this and plan ahead.
"Be realistic." Change requires resources, time and effort. Be reasonable in your expectations about what you need to invest.
"Think transformation." Change need not be disruptive if you are ready for it. You should have a plan for any announced change.
As you can likely tell from what you've heard and read lately about the Law Practice Management Section, we are an organization that embraces constant change. Your Section leadership believes in the above principles and strives to be open about where the Section is—and what position it will have in the future—in helping lawyers practice law for the good of their clients. It is my desire that we will do a good job spreading a consistent message to our membership, one that contains a strategic, realistic and well-thought-out plan for achieving our mission both now and in the future. I hope that you will let us know what additional information you might like or need, and how we might better support you in your mission to serve clients. For information about the Section's current plans and endeavors, go to www.lawpractice.org.
As a final note, I would like to welcome Dave Bilinsky as the new Editor-in-Chief of Law Practice. Dave is the type of leader who strives to put into practice the principles I've discussed above. Dave has given of himself to so many of our most important Section entities, and I look forward to him applying his proven leadership skills to our magazine.