Have you ever watched a coxswain in action during a competitive rowing race? His job is to navigate the boat through the water as quickly and as efficiently as possible by ensuring that each member of his crew rows in unison to the beat he sets. He serves and leads at the same time. A strong law department manager does much the same thing. Her job is to help navigate the client through treacherous waters by ensuring that her team works together to deliver legal services efficiently and well. She sets the tone and the expectations that her team is to meet while providing each member with the support he or she needs. This is leadership in action.

While the ability to lead comes naturally to some, most of us must learn and develop the skill. Unfortunately, the practice of law does not always lend itself to developing leadership skills. The demands of the job, cost constraints and other stresses conspire against such seeming luxuries as leadership training. But for a law department manager, good leadership skills are not luxury items—they are essential to his or her ability to provide outstanding legal services.

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