When Annette Kimmitt, a former EY managing partner, was hired in 2018 by top-tier Australian law firm MinterEllison to be the firm’s new managing partner and CEO, she was touted as a leader with strong strategic skills and extensive client service experience who could help the firm compete with the Big Four. But two and a half years later, Kimmitt, who is an accountant and not a lawyer, was sent packing after scolding the partnership—illustrating the challenges non-lawyers face when they take the helm.

In fact, while a decade ago it was not unusual for law firms to seek out managing partners or chief executives who were not lawyers, fewer non-lawyers are running Australian law firms today. Instead, many firms prefer to keep a partner in charge, with business professionals hired to support them with management.

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