Good to better

Good to better

This weekend I’ve been re-reading one of my favourite management books, the classic ‘Good To Great’ by Jim Collins. If you haven’t read it, you need to, not least because it puts its finger on a problem which perhaps vexes the legal profession more than any other.

It starts off with the immortal line: “Good is the enemy of Great” and then proceeds to explain in devastating fashion why this might be so.

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Where angels fear to tread

Where angels fear to tread…

I try to refrain from commenting publicly on the situations of individual law firms, but it is difficult for the mind not to wander to the high-profile case of DLA Piper when considering the issues around bringing in a senior external figure into a law firm, given that the £1.2bn turnover international firm is paying former Linklaters senior partner Tony Angel a reputed £2m annually to come in as global co-chair and senior partner of the firm’s international LLP.

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The future: a more ‘intimate’ place…?

‘Client intimacy’ is – I have to confess – a new expression for me, but it was very much one of the topics du jour at the latest Client Day held by the guys (and gals) at Møller PSFG in Cambridge on Wednesday, where yours truly was very fortunate to be delivering a session as well.

If you are in professional services and interested in leadership and development and you haven’t come across Møller PSFG, then you very much need to.

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American stars

American stars?

With the recent news that Howrey – a firm which last year turned over $480m with average profits per partner of $845,000 (source: AmLaw100 2010) – had voted for dissolution, another of BigLaw’s very recognisable names bit the dust. Chairman Robert Ruyak put the blame variously on conflict-problems Howrey’s European offices ran into; contingency fees and the problems of long case-cycles; and, slightly perplexingly, litigation-support vendors.

Noted legal commentators are not convinced. One of my favourite blogs – The Belly of the Beast – is coruscating on the topic (here http://thebellyofthebeast.wordpress.com/)

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OK, who’s killed the most dragons?

I spent this afternoon at a very worthwhile function, the Client Day held by Moller PSF at Churchill College, Cambridge (www.mollerpsfgcambridge.com)

There, a variety of managers and leaders in professional services firms met with the excellent Moller consultants to talk about various aspects of professional services management, including managing change, fee negotiations and emerging leaders.

The leadership segment threw up lots of interesting questions: how do you identify leaders? What do you do with them? Are there common characteristics of all leaders, or do you need diversity of ‘soft’ skills depending on what they are leading? Do you think about ‘Big L’ leadership and ‘Little L’ leadership or just treat them all the same? Are you grooming your partners to be leaders or just partners?

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