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INSIGHT

17 quick tips for law firm leaders

By Robert Denney  bio

Here are some quick pointers to keep in mind, whether you’ve been a firm leader for decades or are new to the position.

  1. Have a vision. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there.
  1. Develop a strategic plan and follow it. Hell is paved with good intentions and business plans that were never implemented.
  1. Manage your firm or operation. Don’t let it manage you.
  1. Leadership is the art of getting someone to do what you want done because he or she wants to do it. Be a leader, not just a manager.
  1. Remember the three keys to being a good leader:
    1. Listen and communicate.
    2. Listen and communicate.
    3. Listen and communicate.
  1. Believe in yourself, even when no one else does. Remember these words: “If it is to be, it is up to me.”
  1. Your lawyers and your staff are your most important assets—then your clients.
  1. Don’t equate being busy with being productive.
  1. Don’t achieve efficiency at the expense of creativity.
  1. Get timely information—in advance. Most reports tell you what did happen. You need to know what might happen.
  1. Remember what they did in the old neighborhood butcher shop—they trimmed the fat. Do likewise. It isn’t the people you fire who hurt you; it’s the people you don’t.
  1. Ignore the latest management fad.
  1. If it ain’t broke, fix it. When things are going well, make them even better.
  1. The client is not always right—but their opinion is the only one that counts.
  1. If you’re the Managing Partner and everyone loves you, you’re probably not doing your job.
  1. Expect the unexpected. Employees quit. Lawyers and clients leave. Technology crashes. Always have a contingency plan: “What if…?
  1. When things go well, spread the credit around. When things go wrong, take the blame yourself.

Note: Further discussion of some of these principles, as well as other timely issues, are posted on my website, www.robertdenney.com.


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