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For new firm leaders, a transition period of a couple of months is absolutely necessary to think through all the myriad details that need to be attended to before assuming office. There are numerous activities that need attention during the period from when you are first elected (or selected) to your first official day in office—ranging from preparing your family for the huge time sacrifice that’s about to occur to determining how to transition some (or most) of your personal practice and the inherent client relationships.

However, it’s also important to really get to know your strengths and weaknesses in becoming firm leader. Doing some pertinent self-discovery through a personal assessment instrument can help you better understand your unique strengths and how you react under stress. Ideally, this gets done before assuming office, not after you’ve been dropped into a quick sink-or-swim situation.

  • Here are the types of questions that new law firm leaders are often most concerned about:
  • Am I really clear on the reasons I accepted this position?
  • How can I be sure that I have correctly understood what is expected of me?
  • Which tasks should be a priority and which can be put on hold?
  • Have I defined the challenges facing my firm and determined an approach to dealing with them?
  • When can I begin to introduce change and what is my initial plan of action?
  • How do I make sure that I have the support I need from the partnership?
  • Who am I going to meet with first and what am I going to say?

Methodically answering these types of questions helps new managing partners get ready-set-and-go for their first days on the job.

About the Author

Patrick J. McKenna has worked with the top management of law firms internationally to escalate their thinking on how to manage and compete effectively. He is coauthor of the business best-seller First Among Equals and co-leads a biannual program titled “First 100 Days: A Master Class for the New Managing Partner.”