Remaking News of the Week: Adam Smith Esq on BigLaw leadership

Bruce starts with a litany of what’s wrong with BigLaw leadership:

  • The autonomy-seeking nature of lawyers meaning poor followership;
  • Leaders enabling / allowing the detrimental aspects of autonomy to damage the firm’s culture; and
  • Leaders in larger firms continuing to practise and playing a less than effective leadership role.

Bruce cites recent reports of Baker McKenzie’s Paul Rawlinson taking leave because of ‘exhaustion’ and stories of managing partners openly saying ‘I prefer practising law over management’.

Running a successful law firm is like winning on the sports field. It’s require consistent, determined, talented team effort – and a captain. As Bruce writes “The essential constituency and role of the person at the top of an organization is, on purpose and by design, unlike that of anyone else”.

George Beaton


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Bruce and his wife Janet are spot on with this, and all of their posts regarding law firm management, and law firm leadership. It is a touchy thing to call out the people that frankly, you need to have making the decision to hire you. If you call it like it is, you don’t get the gig. There are a lot of consultants out there that will call it the way they are instructed to. The interview process doesn’t get more than ten minutes old before the advisor knows clearly what the proposed engagement is supposed to deliver. If you want a solution, Bruce is your guy. If you want a cover for a predetermined course of action, probably not. So much of the blather about change and management seem to be born of the ridiculous assumption that law firm leaders don’t know what their real challenges are, that they don’t know what they are doing. That is nonsense. Most of them know exactly what they are doing. And it isn’t pretty. It isn’t that they don’t know what is required. It is that they choose affirmatively not to do so. So, knowing that, how do you help to effect… Read more »