Miriam Frank
Miriam Frank ()

As law firms brainstorm more and more ways to reach and retain their younger lawyers, legal consulting giant Major, Lindsey & Africa announced Monday the launch of a new talent management consulting group specifically geared towards helping law firms and general counsel coach and manage their teams.

The endeavor, led by Major Lindsey partner and vice president Miriam Frank and managing partner Barrett Avigdor, came after two years of discussions with their clients about how to address law firm and in-house legal teams’ specific needs related to the development and growth of their lawyers, extending beyond the legal consultancy’s traditional role in placement.

“They’re telling us they need it [and] we’re seeing it out in the marketplace,” Frank said. “We’re seeing continual issues about women in big law, [about] retention and how important that is, [and] dealing with new generations and multiple generations in a law firm and what that means.”

Major Lindsey’s response was to put together a flexible package offering to meet the talent management needs of their clients—which include both firms and individual lawyers—that can ultimately help facilitate the growth of legal teams, both in-house and at law firms, Frank said.

The talent management team, along with other outside consultants, will work with clients in several specific areas, including organizational analysis, facilitating team-building workshops, coaching for lawyers at all levels of a firm and conducting assessments.

While the initial focus of the Major Lindsey group has been to cater to the talent management endeavors of in-house clients, Frank said it was expanded because of a growing need within Big Law for many of the same services.

“I think [in Big Law] the needs are less in the realm of organizational design and reporting structures and more in the line of coaching and helping individual lawyers,” Frank said. For example, young lawyers may need help in learning how to be effective client managers or business developers, beyond “just going out and playing golf,” she added. “[And] if we’ve got more senior lawyers who have been put into some sort of leadership or upper management role, but who haven’t really been trained for that and maybe don’t have some of the emotional intelligence or other sensitivities, [we] can help with that.”

It is the development of these so-called soft skills that are integral to the success of lawyers today, regardless of whether the attorney is in-house or at a large law firm, said Frank, whose is based in San Diego and began her career as an associate at Katten Muchin Rosenman.

“[This] is something that law firms are realizing that they need to focus on just as much as in-house lawyers do,” Frank said.

Major Lindsey wasn’t alone this week in building out its talent management arsenal.

On Monday, Winston & Strawn announced its hire of Susan Manch as the firm’s new chief talent officer. Manch had previously been firmwide director of recruiting and development at the now-defunct Bingham McCutchen—where her hire was covered by The American Lawyer in 2012—and most recently spent nearly the past two years as chief of people and development at Norton Rose Fulbright.

“Identifying and retaining talent is a strategic priority for Winston,” said a statement by Winston & Strawn managing partner Thomas Fitzgerald. “[And] this hire exemplifies our commitment to elevating our game in talent management.”

Bracewell also announced Monday its addition of Jennifer Queen to serve in the newly created position of chief talent officer. Prior to joining the firm, Queen had her own Dallas-based consulting shop, having previously held professional development and recruiting roles at Baker Botts and McKenna Long & Aldridge.

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