Q: I’m the managing partner of a large multioffice firm. In the past few years, some key partners have left for other firms, and consultants say that it’s because our profit margin is too low. They tell me I should increase profitability. Talk about stating the obvious! Don’t they get it? I have to cope with skyrocketing associate salaries, discounting pressure from clients, and the costs of maintaining out-of-town offices. Besides, this just isn’t a miserly firm — never has been, never will be. Why can’t consultants understand that increasing profitability is easier said than done?

A: Most managing partners have trouble building a consensus for improving profitability. Often they fault the firm’s culture. But figuring out what to do isn’t rocket science. The hard part is the execution.

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