Law Firm Leadership Program for Current Leaders

This program is designed for lawyers currently holding leadership roles in their firms, including practice group leaders, executive committee members, office and firm managing partners and others who would like to expand the scope or effectiveness of their leadership. Please note that we offer a similar program for junior partners and senior associates—those with high potential but who are not yet in leadership roles.


Situation Appraisal

The old models for law firm success are growing progressively less applicable to the current legal environment.  Law firm leaders must navigate myriad issues including evolving technologies, rapidly changing economic and political landscapes, increasing globalization, and recruitment and retention issues as younger generations’ goals, priorities and expectations diverge from traditional career trajectories.

Law firms need extraordinary leaders to not only chart a path but also to wrangle partners to align with whatever changes may be necessary.  As difficult as it may be to effectively guide a large company, leading a law firm is even harder due to the flat organizational structure, the non-scalable nature of the billable hour, and the relative ease with which a partner can leave and take a significant chunk of business. 

Even when law firms select as leaders those with the strongest management skills, the most perspicacious, the wisest, the most farsighted… those lawyers are still, in virtually all cases, continuing to manage their own full-time law practices.  Given the exceptionally challenging nature of law firm leadership, practically everyone could benefit from having a sounding board, training and discussion groups to help think through and explore different approaches to common law firm challenges. 


Program Goals

#1 — Help law firm leaders create the next level of teamwork, collegiality and constructive discussion 

#2 — Help law firm leaders to align the firm policies, and culture with the vision and mission of the firm

#3 — Help law firm leaders to enjoy their leadership roles and find ways to avoid burnout



This comprehensive leadership program, to be conducted over the course of one year includes the following elements: 

Individual Leadership Projects – Leaders choose between one and three projects to work on over the course of the year. Any leader will have goals for their organizations. Leaders who already have such projects formalized through plans and timelines can simply use their existing plans; while those who haven’t yet turned their goals into projects can take this opportunity to do so. Having written plans creates another level of clarity and focus which both enhances the likelihood of successful outcomes, but also provides a meaningful foundation on which to enhance one’s leadership skills.

Monthly Webinars – These webinars are really virtual workshops, conducted via video conference, where there is significant interaction and discussion.  During the months where we have an in-person meeting, we will not hold a webinar. 

In-Person Meetings – These meetings could take place in conjunction with already scheduled in-person events, such as partner meetings.

Individual Coaching – One-on-one coaching allows participants to delve more deeply into various leadership topics and skills, as well as to address more sensitive issues that they may not wish to address publicly.

Leadership Assessment and Leadership Interviews – The program may include both an assessment instrument to gage the leaders personality profile as well a and a series of more subjective leadership interviews designed to help program participants understand how they come across to the people with whom they interact. 

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Each of the topics addressed during the webinars and the in-person meetings are designed to help law firm leaders to practice and enhance their leadership skills in order to achieve better results with greater ease. Although the focus is on leadership, participants will likely discover that the new perspectives and enhanced abilities will help them with everyday challenges in their legal practices as well.  

Although we are referring to these programs as webinars, they would be structured as video conferences and include interactive exercises as well as group coaching.

If all the participating leaders are in the same location, these programs could also be conducted as in-person workshops.

Webinar #1Program Introduction
Describe criteria for the leadership projects and invite program participating leaders to start thinking about, and begin to design, a project plan. Introduce the idea of “leadership interviews” and create the foundation for the first in-person meeting. Introduce the idea of buddies and assign the first buddy pairs.

Webinar #2 — Making Powerful Requests
Although those in leadership roles have access to “sticks” leadership, at its core, is about motivating and inspiring others to take action. We will examine preconceptions about what it means if someone says “yes” or “no” to a request, discuss the reasons that prevent people from asking for what they want and practice making requests in a way that leaves the other person feeling inspired and honored, regardless of whether they say “yes” or “no.”

Webinar #3 — Advanced Time Management: Strategies and Structures
Even the most efficient and focused lawyers sometimes struggle to manage their time effectively. We will assess the techniques participants are currently using to manage their time and discuss additional strategies that they may wish to try.

Webinar #5 — Effective Delegation: A Key Leadership Skill
Successful delegation enables leaders to free up their own time for big picture projects and other high-value activities. Participants explore what is working well regarding their current approach to delegation and assess ways to achieve the next level of effectiveness.

Webinar #4 — Using Feedback to Achieve Excellence
Most law firm leaders find it very challenging to address constructively the shortcomings of otherwise productive members of a firm. We will cover the ten essential factors for giving effective feedback, and specifically address techniques for talking to partners about improper language or unprofessional demeanor (such as being verbally abusive, or sexually or culturally inappropriate).

Webinar #6 — Breakdowns
In the face of any large commitment, there will be breakdowns (situations where the outside reality does not fit the goals and intentions). Participants will be taught tools for managing breakdowns, without judgement, that will help them systematically think through the situation, minimize upset and move forward powerfully.

Webinar #7 — Stronger Bonds Lead to Greater Persuasiveness
Strengthening one’s relationships within the firm is one of the most effective ways to get support for a new initiative or increase compliance with a new policy. We will look at various ways to connect more meaningfully with partners, and thereby become even more influential as a leader.

Webinar #8Giving Away the Project
One of the characteristics of truly extraordinary leaders is their ability to start something—a program, a business, an initiative—and then pass it on to others to manage. Participants will be asked to “give away” their projects and will learn to do it in a way that inspires and creates new possibilities for themselves and others.   

Webinar #9Completion
Over the course of a significant project or endeavor, a leader will inevitably experience some frustrations. If not addressed constructively, these feelings can linger and negatively impact the current projects as well as future initiatives.  Participating leaders will learn a method for systematically addressing any loose ends in a way that optimizes learning, improves relationships and sets the leader up to move forward with enthusiasm into whatever is next.   

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In-Person Meetings

Some content is better conveyed through in-person meetings. Over the course of the year-long leadership program, three in-person one-day meetings are generally sufficient to sustain momentum and deepen connections among participants. Below are some of the components that can be included in the in-person meetings.

Team Building and Introductions
The group will engage in icebreaker activities to help participants deepen their relationships to one another and set the stage for meaningful discussions. Participating leaders will also share their goals for themselves and for their teams, offices, and the firm as a whole and discuss how their projects will help to achieve those goals. We will introduce the fundamental principles of what makes an effective team.  

Identify a Unique Leadership Essence
Participants will identify what makes them special as leaders. Using an ontological model, each leader identifies his or her unique strengths and explore how to apply those gifts even more effectively in the context of his or her current leadership role. The results from the leadership interviews (introduced in the first webinar) are an important component of this process.  By the end of the exercise, each participant will have a “Leadership Essence” consisting of five words that epitomize that individual’s highest and best qualities. 

Case for Action
Participating leaders will learn a simple formula for persuading others of the value of a proposal or initiative. Each person will design and practice a “case for action,” which is a concise statement designed to be inspiring and powerful. Participants will practice with one another and get feedback so that they will be well prepared to start sharing the case for action with relevant stakeholders at the firm.

Identify Current Approach to Leadership
Most people don't consciously identify their approach to leadership; rather it is something that they pick up or develop subconsciously. People often see leadership as burdensome, dangerous, a sign of arrogance, “one more thing they need to do,” or “something to do later when they have more experience.” Participants will each identify their current relationship to leadership and identify the effect that perspective has had on their work, their relationships and other areas of life. 

Creating a New Paradigm for Leadership
We will examine what success looks like in the realm of leadership and each person will create his or her own individual paradigm of success in that area. The new paradigms for leadership will create an inspiring touchstone to help participants stay focused on what they see as important, as well as provide a way to address whatever concerns they may have about stepping into greater leadership roles.

Mastermind Discussions
Participants will take turns sharing a challenge they are facing regarding their projects; the group will ask questions and offer ideas and resources.  Through this structured dialogue process, participants will get a hands-on experience of the benefits of frank, open dialogue—both in terms of new ideas and other useful feedback, and in terms of the depth of connection and community that emerge from such meaningful conversations. 

Celebration & Lessons Learned
Participants will do a systematic evaluation of their leadership accomplishments to date, including concrete results, lessons learned, relationships that were enhanced during the process, and new tools and approaches that supported them in their endeavors. They will celebrate and be acknowledged for all their accomplishments and growth, and will also consider how to apply the lessons for even greater success in the future. 

Creating an Inspiring Future
We will talk about what is next for each leader.  Now that they have completed a project and expanded their capacity for leadership, what future to they wish to create for themselves, their teams and the firm as a whole? Each participant will create an inspiring vision of the future.  

Plans and Support Structures
Throughout the year, participants have had buddies, webinars, coaching, and in-person meetings; but all those structures are about to end.  So, we will discuss what structures would support them as they pursue the inspiring future they envisioned, and they will make plans for putting those structures into place.

We would be happy to create a customized program for the lawyers at your firm, company or government office.

Schedule a conversation using our online scheduling system or call (202) 900-9161 for assistance.


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