by Ken Lopez
Founder & CEO
It has been said that management is either dead or dying. That is, when defined as the act of telling people what to do, management is needed far less than it used to be.
After all, good people don't often need to be told what to do. Instead, they need the room, the tools, the support and the runway to do great things in service of a common vision. Accordingly, most modern businesses are focused on attracting good people and not on management but instead on leadership.
Today we are releasing a new and free eBook on leadership for lawyers that can be downloaded here. I hope that it will be useful to legal industry leaders, whether in charge of an entire law firm, running a practice group, directing a litigation support division, or leading a single trial team.
Law firms and traditional corporate entities both struggle to provide better leadership within their organizations. Comparatively, however, Law firms are at a disadvantage. In the corporate world, leadership is enhanced through the specific teaching of the subject in business schools and often followed by focused professional educational programs designed to enhance leadership abilities. In law firms, leadership development is mostly trial and error.
However, in spite of all of their flaws, I believe that the businesses of the future will more closely resemble the modern large law firm than the modern large corporate entity – in at least one way. Corporate America will become far less burdened with administrative overhead and will become far more intellectually top-heavy. There is and will continue to be much less need and demand for “support” roles in business as more and more is handled easily by technology and those that know how to use it. This growth in brain-power will result in less need for traditional management and more need for managerial leadership. If you are a top-tier litigator, you know that good managerial leadership is a necessity to a winning trial team no matter how intelligent your lawyers may be.
For years, it seemed that law firms were lagging behind in business fundamentals. More often than not, their structure was loosely defined. Management was more of a suggestion than a dictate. And accountability was a new term for many. Internal law firm hierarchy was (and to a large extent still remains) based on whether you are a partner, years of tenure, and not much more. Conceptions of “power” within a firm, based on rainmaking or litigation successes, seemed to play the dominant role in who takes the lead in management responsibilities (overlooking committee and managing partner elections).
But what is fundamental in business is changing.
With thought-leaders like Dan Pink advocating for more autonomy in the workplace, with fewer low-skilled jobs being created, and with the rise of the Results Oriented Work Environment (ROWE), it appears that workplaces of the future will be semi-virtual collectives of smart problem-solving people with very few low-skilled laborers. That's right, somewhat similar to large law firms. But, as we know, without careful leadership and management on litigation teams, a lot of wheel spinning and lack of focus is likely.
Note that I say similar - not exactly. Until subjects like "project management" and "value" are not novel and the subjects of legal conferences, law firms will still have some catching up to do with the rest of the business world.
Our leadership eBook covers important topics like dealing with anxiety in the workplace, analyzing litigation as a business and the economic outlook for 2013. It is largely focused on litigation, as this is the focus of our litigation consulting firm. So, there are many tips for the effective use of demonstrative evidence, using trial consultants and getting the most out of mock trials.
We, as a litigation consulting firm, struggle with issues quite similar to those of a law firm. Most of our leadership team, me included, are player-coaches. That is, none of us are full-time leaders. Instead, we must, like many in a law firm, balance our leadership responsibilities with the time we spend delivering for our clients.
I hope this book is helpful to you. I would enjoy hearing from you and encourage you to leave a comment below (contact information is not published).