Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Lawyers are largely extremely bright and talented people, and yet few, ifany, have formal training in the business of law-leadership, management,profitability and business development. Most do not have MBAs, did not studybusiness in college and do not devote sufficient nonbillable time each year toongoing leadership and management training courses. Law firms are investing more than ever in professional development. Across thecountry, hundreds of firms have hired full-time professional developmentadministrators to manage firmwide lawyer training and development. Firms havespent many thousands of dollars developing formal, in-house orientation andtraining programs for lawyers. At last, some firms are looking beyond substantive training courses and trainingtheir lawyers on the business of law. In recent years, firms have invested inleadership and management training for partners involved in firm management,including practice group leaders. Firms are finally beginning to recognize theimportance of business training for all lawyers. Most law students did not learn about the business of law in law school. Mostlaw schools do not include law firm management courses in their curricula. Thosethat do, offer them as elective, rather than required, courses. Because there isa much greater chance that there will be a constitutional law question on thebar exam than one on law firm organizational structure, many students ignore thelaw firm management courses that do exist. Some law schools have legal business-related courses. The University ofPennsylvania Law School, for example, is offering a course on the large law firmin the 2004-05 academic year. The course helps students understand the uniquecharacteristics of large law firm practice, including management issues. College of William and Mary’s Marshall-Wythe School of Law is one of a fewschools that offer a course in law office management. The course covers severalareas of law firm management including human resources issues, systems,including time and billing, document retention and litigation management, andfinancial management. Richard Herrmann, a partner in Blank Rome’s Wilmington,Del., office, teaches the course with Darlene Bradberry of Breeden, Salb,Beasley & DuVall in Norfolk, Va. Herrmann describes the level of interest inthe course as “moderate.” Law-office management courses are often perceived to be geared more towardlawyers who intend to hang out their own shingles, rather than to large-firmlawyers. So lawyers with big-firm ambitions often overlook them. They tend tohave a high population of students in the class who see themselves in a smalloffice or solo environment somewhere down the road. SOME FIRMS GET IT When lawyers begin to work in law firms, there is still much to learnsubstantively. Even sophisticated in-house training programs focus most, if notall, of their efforts on substantive and procedural legal issues. There are somefirms, however, that have embraced the concept that management training iscrucial to the ultimate success of the firm and its lawyers, as discussed below. Atlanta-based King & Spalding, with 786 lawyers in five cities, has madebusiness training a priority. The firm has incorporated several importantaspects of business training into its associate programs. There are two primaryareas of focus for the training: leadership and management, and law firmeconomics. One example of the leadership and management training is the firm’sSenior Associate Academy, a two-day program that teaches the associates skillsin delegation of work and giving and receiving performance feedback. The programalso helps participants gain an awareness of their management styles throughvoluntary, confidential personality assessments. The firm is also working to ensure that associates have a good handle on thebasics of law firm economics. In addition to firm management’s periodicbriefings to associates, new programs are being rolled out at the practice grouplevel. The goal is for each associate to have an understanding of key financialindicators and the factors for profitability for the firm and his or herpractice group, so each associate better understands how to contribute to thefirm’s success. Lisa Keyes, director of professional development and a partner at King &Spalding, recognizes the value in the firm’s business training programs. Whenthe firm was smaller, most lawyers were able to learn what they needed to knowabout management and marketing directly from their mentors. However, as the firmgrew and became more complex, management recognized that formal programs are auseful supplement to one-on-one mentoring. King & Spalding does not stop with associates. The firm has also made asignificant investment in leadership and management training for partners,particularly senior managers and practice group leaders. Valerie Fitch, an attorney and the director of attorney development at PillsburyWinthrop, said that management and business development training has been agrowing focus in the firm’s extensive lawyer-development program. Coordinatingthese programs is no small task: The firm has 658 lawyers in 16 officesworldwide. Nonetheless, the firm has undertaken several programs in recentyears, largely at the request of the associates themselves. The managementtraining initiative was one of the many initiatives that arose from the firm’sattorney development committee-a diverse group comprised of partners andassociates from the firm’s different offices. The firm has an extensive business-development training curriculum for alllawyers in the firm, from junior associates to partners. This program rangesfrom client-development seminars to one-on-one coaching for partners. The firmhas even hired a full-time director of client development training, JimCranston, who develops and implements this training for the firm. The seminarsare a great way to reach a large number of lawyers at one time, and theone-on-one coaching has had a significant impact on individual lawyer progress. Pillsbury Winthrop also implemented a firmwide program called “Feedback andReview Skills for Better Results.” As with most lawyer-training programs,the biggest challenge was delivering a consistent message within all of thefirm’s offices. To accomplish that, Pillsbury Winthrop partnered with an outsideconsultant who delivered the training module to each office. The programincludes a combination of live training and videotaped scripted scenarios inwhich Pillsbury Winthrop lawyers and legal assistants acted out situationsdemonstrating feedback and reviews given well and given badly. The firm has at least two additional management-training programs underdevelopment, including a program on deal and case management skills, andreportedly the level of interest for this type of training is very high.Pillsbury Winthrop is ahead of the pack in business-training programs due to theefforts of Fitch and Cranston and the commitment of the firm’s chairwoman, MaryCranston, and its managing partner, Marina Park. TRAINING RECOMMENDATIONS A business curriculum should be part of all law firm professional developmentprograms. The benefits of this kind of training will manifest themselves in thesuccesses of law firm management, practice leadership and individual lawyers. The Association of Legal Administrators has a recommended curriculum fordeveloping lawyer business skills. “A Business Skills Curriculum for LawFirm Associates” was designed and written by Stephen R. Chitwood, Anita F.Gottlieb and Evelyn Gaye Mara and developed by the Center for Law PracticeStrategy and Management at George Washington University. The curriculum is basedupon 58 skills identified by law firm partners, associates and executivedirectors in a study done by the center in 1999. See www.alanet.org/periodicals/pf_article.html. The study included in-person interviews as well as an extensive nationwidesurvey of 265 partners, associates and executive directors representing 69 firmsof large, medium and small size. The study and the curriculum are the mostcomprehensive to date on this topic. The curriculum contains specific recommendations for the skill sets that need tobe developed in lawyers. The general categories of skill development identifiedin the curriculum include: general business skills, understanding the firm’soperations and procedures (including firm economics), client relations andclient-development skills, managing one’s own work, management and supervisingothers’ work and being an effective member of the team. One of the most valuable aspects of the curriculum is information pertaining tothe recommended timing for such training, according to Chitwood. He believes itis critically important for firms to understand which skills associates need, atwhat level of competency and at what time within their careers. The curriculum,therefore, details the skills associates should develop by the end of theirfirst, third, fifth and seventh years of practice. The curriculum also specifiesindividual learning objectives and recommended instructional materials for eachskill cluster and includes detailed information on how to utilize internal andexternal resources to implement a business-training program. What should a firm do to develop its lawyers’ leadership and management skills?Here are some suggestions: � Incorporate training in the business of the law in the firm’s professionaldevelopment programs. � Gain commitment, if not advocacy, from firm leaders to incorporate leadershipand management training in the firm’s curriculum. � Ensure that, at a minimum, the lawyers have a solid understanding of managementtrends in the profession (i.e., what are lawyers and law firms doing to be moresuccessful?), the fundamentals of law firm economics and profitability, andbusiness development skills including really understanding what their clientswant and how to improve their relationships with clients and potential clients. � Insist that any outside providers of management training really understandlawyers, law firms and the legal market. � Create a culture where excellence in leadership and management is valued. � Include leadership and management skills as part of lawyer performanceevaluations. � Tie rewards in the firm’s compensation program to excellence in leadership andmanagement. Law firms that have invested in management training for their lawyers arereaping the rewards. In order for the future owners of a law firm to besophisticated and successful leaders, managers and experts in the business oflaw, the firm should include leadership and management training in itsprofessional-development programs and start training all of its lawyers now. Marci M. Krufka is a consultant with Altman Weil Inc., a legal managementconsultancy headquartered in Newtown Square, Pa. Much of the information in the article arose from a research project that sheperformed on business-of-law training programs. None of the firms discussed arecurrently Altman Weil clients.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.