The Culture of Law: Can Non-Lawyers Successfully Run Law Firms?
There have been successes. But lawyers can be hard to manage and some say the culture of law and the culture of management are simply incompatible.
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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