Law Firm Leadership Program for Future Leaders

This program is designed for young partners or senior associates who show strong potential as future leaders of your firm.

Situation Appraisal

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Law firms need strong leaders at every level in order to provide strategic and tactical guidance as the firms navigate the continued evolution of the legal market.  As technological changes, economic and industry trends, increased globalization, and other factors continue to affect how legal services are marketed, priced, sourced and delivered, it is advisable for firms to tap into the wisdom and leadership capacity of a range of attorneys across the firm. 

While big picture strategic thinking is critical to long-term success, day-to-day management is where law firm leaders spend the bulk of their (non-client focused) time and energy.  Effective managers enable teams to run smoothly, communicate meaningfully and improve internal and external relationships. These factors, in turn, yield better legal outcomes, more satisfied clients, as well as more motivated, engaged and committed staff, associates and partners.   

Experts estimate that the cost of an employee leaving is between one and two times his or her annual salary.  Needless to say, that doesn’t account for the loss of business that occurs if a lawyer leaves and takes a client.  Most turnover in law firms among mid-level associates and higher is due to poor relationships, where the lawyers feel unappreciated, unsupported or lacking in opportunities. Therefore, any enhancement of relationships among attorneys in a firm will likely have a positive impact on retention and thereby contribute meaningfully to the bottom line. 

Program Goals

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#1 – Create a pipeline of leaders who have developed the skills to be able to effectively take on leadership roles in the firm when such opportunities become available

#2 – Empower program participants to become more effective in their current roles in the firm

#3 – Enhance attorneys’ level of investment in, and commitment to, the firm

Overview

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This comprehensive business development program, to be conducted over the course of fourteen months includes the following elements: 

Individual Leadership Projects – Participants will each design and implement a project over the course of the program that will enable him or her to (1) gain hands-on experience as a leader, and (2) make a positive impact on the firm.

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 will include both an assessment instrument such as the Caliper Profile which evaluates the program participants objectively on a range or leadership criteria, 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. 

Leadership Projects

Learning about leadership in a classroom setting is like learning to ride a bike through reading about it.  Understanding the concepts may help, but without practice one is unable to develop any real skill or proficiency.  Therefore, in this program, the participants each design and lead a project that could have a real impact on the firm.  Any growing and dynamic organization has innumerable areas for potential growth, and this is a chance for the program participants to identify areas where they would like to see a change, and attempt to turn that idea into reality.  

After designing a plan, program participants must (a) solicit input from those who would be affected by the change, (b) persuade affected parties to support the plan, (c) get approval from leadership, (d) get funds allocated (if relevant), and (e) follow through on implementation.  It is possible that some participants could get stymied at any of these steps.  Leaders run into such challenges all the time and it is a good growth opportunity for the program participants to struggle with, and learn from, whatever barriers arise.   

In the process of implementing, or attempting to implement, their projects, the program participants typically strengthen their communication skills; enhance relationships with colleagues; improve their time management and people management skills; grapple with their own strengths and weaknesses; develop a better appreciation for how the firm works; and learn to navigate organizational (rather than legal) obstacles.

Webinars

Each of the topics addressed during the webinars and the in-person meetings are designed to help participants develop different leadership skills.  These skills are intended to support the participants as they implement their leadership projects, as well as to offer new perspectives and abilities that will help them more generally as they manage the ongoing obligations and challenges in their legal practices.  For the sake of simplicity, we are referring to the virtual sessions as webinars. However, they would be structured to provide information, interactive exercises as well as group coaching.

Webinar #1Program Introduction
Describe criteria for the leadership projects and invite program participants 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
Leadership is about motivating 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; and this becomes even more of an issue when managing cases and projects. We will assess the current techniques participants are using to manage their time and discuss additional strategies that they may wish to try.

Webinar #5 — Effective Delegation – The Key to Creating a Sane Work Life
Lack of effective delegation skill leads to frustration, lawyers working far more hours than necessary and strained work relationships. Participants will learn the eleven mistakes most people make when delegating work and responsibilities to others, and have the opportunity to practice effective delegation techniques.

Webinar #4 — Using Feedback to Achieve Excellence
Most people find it very challenging to address constructively the shortcomings of staff and associates. We will cover the ten key factors for giving effective feedback, look at examples from three of the most challenging subjects for feedback (personal habits, legal analysis, and attitude) and offer tips for creating a strong culture of teamwork.

Webinar #6 — Breakdowns
In the face of any large commitment, there will be breakdowns (situations where the outside reality does not fit 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 — Networking: A Key Leadership Tool
Networking isn’t just for finding jobs and developing business. It is also an important leadership tool. Networking enables law firm leaders to share ideas, learn new approaches and perspectives, find lateral partners and associates, and build relationships. The stronger one’s relationships within an organization, the more influential one becomes.

Webinar #8Completion
It is predictable that with any significant endeavor some frustrations may crop up along the way.  If not addressed constructively, these feelings can linger and negatively impact the current project as well as future endeavors.  Participants will learn a method for addressing these concerns which will enable them to learn from the experiences and move forward rather than be dragged down or burdened by the inevitable hiccups along the way. 

Webinar #9Expanding and Gaining More Visibility for the Project
At this point in the program, some projects will be thriving while others may not yet have gotten off the ground. Either way, creating more visibility for the project within the firm and/or externally through media or social media attention is a great way to maximize the project’s impact.  Participants will learn strategies for creating visibility and design their own “Visibility and Publicity” plans.

Webinar #10Giving 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 #11Presenting the Project – Practice presenting the project to the group and get kudos and any constructive feedback. This is preparation for a group presentation of projects at a firm-wide meeting

In-Person Meetings

Some content is better conveyed through in-person meetings.

Team Building and Introductions
The group will engage in icebreaker activities to help the participants to get to know one another.  Participants will also share what they hope to get out of the program and any concerns they may have about their participation.  Fundamental principles of what makes an effective team will be introduced.  

Project Design
Participants share their project ideas with one another, get feedback, and fine tune their project plans.  By the end of the day, all participants will have concise written project plans that they find inspiring, meet the specified criteria, and include milestones, timelines and next steps.

Identify A Unique Leadership Essence
Participants will participate in an exercise where each person identifies his or her unique strengths and explores how those gifts can be applied in the context of leadership.  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
Participants will learn a simple formula for persuading others that an issue is important and requires action.  Each person will design and practice a “case for action” which is a concise statement designed to be inspiring and powerful. They will practice with one another and get feedback so that they will be well prepared to start sharing the case for action with relevant people at the firm when they return.

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 lives, their work, etc. 

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 the area of leadership. 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. 

Project Presentations to the Firm
Since the final meeting will take place in conjunction with the firm retreat, it would be a great opportunity for participants to briefly present their projects to the entire firm.  Presenting the projects would create greater visibility within the firm for the participants, let people know about their accomplishments, practice public presentations, and inspire others.

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 person.  Now that they have completed a project and expanded their capacity for leadership, what do they wish to do with these new skills and enhanced self-confidence?  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 leadership program for the lawyers at your firm. Please contact us for further information.

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