Few roles within law firms have increased in importance during the past two decades more than those in the C-suite. Chief financial officers, chief operating officers, chief marketing officers and other non-lawyer senior executives – once rare within the legal sector – have become central in day-to-day operations and long-term strategy development. These positions, if they even existed previously, have morphed from support functions to key leadership posts – at least at the best-led firms.
Overview of the Report
ALM’s recently released report, The New Law Firm C-Suite (Get the Report Here), highlights the evolving importance of these roles. Yet it also reveals that many C-suite professionals feel frustrated and believe their talents are not being fully used. In many firms, the C-suite is given wide autonomy and celebrated as a key contributor to the executive committee. In others, the positions suffer from attorney condescension that lingers from the years when non-lawyers, even at the highest level, were seen as support staff.
Such outmoded thinking results in a profusion of missed opportunities that can endanger operational efficiency and effectiveness. It can squander the experience and insight that non-lawyers are able to bring as a result of their differentiated talents and insights from other sectors. Law firm leaders should pay close attention to the satisfaction levels of their C-suite professionals. The legal sector has undergone major changes over the past several years. Operational complexity, as well as competition, has increased significantly for law firms. C-suite professionals bring new skills and experience from other industries. This makes them uniquely qualified to help manage the changes the industry is undergoing and help firms adjust to the new competitive landscape.
ALM’s The New Law Firm C-Suite report relied upon a combination of research methods, including results of ALM Intelligence’s C-Suite Survey, four weeks of one-on-one interviews, analysis of ALM Intelligence’s proprietary data sources on the legal industry, the authors’ practical knowledge from working with law firms for nearly a decade, and a review of the body of research conducted by others on issues related to law firm management and the C-suite.
Nicholas Bruch is a Senior Analyst at ALM Legal Intelligence. His experience includes advising law firms and law departments in developing and developed markets on issues related to strategy, business development, market intelligence, and operations. He can be reached at NBruch@ALM.com.