Managing Partner Special Issue
Managing Partner Q&A
In tandem with running her firm’s Georgia offices and serving as a member of its board of directors, Linda Klein maintains an active practice and dedicates time to multiple nonprofit activities, including chairing the ABA’s Coalition for Justice. Her firm has 540 lawyers and policy advisors across 17 locations in the South as well as Washington, D.C., and Beijing. She was Managing Partner of Gambrell & Stolz before its merger with Baker Donelson.
LInda A. Klein
Office Managing Shareholder, Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC
What’s your management style?
I strive to put civility first and listen attentively.
What’s your management philosophy?
Service to the firm as leadership.
What skill or attribute have you found most critical to being an effective managing partner?
Being available. I find the time to talk to anyone in the office who wants to speak with me. I answer every question and try to be available 24-7. Only once has someone called me at 3:30 in the morning, by the way.
What’s the first thing a new managing partner should do?
Ask this critical question: Where’s the money? The first thing I did when I became MP was to get an accurate financial picture, including revenue and expenses and sources and uses of cash. This is even more important now because of the turmoil in the credit market.
What’s the biggest challenge facing law firms in the next 10 years?
Confronting the billable hour. Will clients willingly continue to compensate law firms in this manner? We need to work hard to ensure that our clients see value in our work, which involves much more than the number of hours we log.
What’s the most important advice you have for a new managing partner?
Remember that the firm is a for-profit organization, and you need to know the money better than anyone. There is so much else to do that you will be easily distracted, but you must watch the bank balance every day.
What’s the best thing about being managing partner?
I went to law school to help people. So as managing partner I’m especially gratified I can help people who help people.