Asked and Answered
By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC
Q. I am a new law firm administrator for a 16-attorney firm in Chicago. This is my first law firm and after attending a few partner meetings I am concerned about how and where to start getting some ideas and projects implemented. I have a lot of ideas and would appreciate your suggestions.
A. Lack of focus and accountability is one of the major problems facing law firms. Many times, the problem is having too many ideas, alternatives and options. The result, often, is no decision or action at all. Ideas, recommendations, suggestions, etc., are of no value unless implemented.
Look for ways to insure that all time spent on management is spent wisely. At first identify a few (maybe three) management initiatives that you can move forward fairly quickly and get implemented. Then build upon these successes.
Don’t hide behind strategy, planning, and endless debate. Attorneys love to postpone implementation. Find ways to focus the firm and foster accountability from all.
- Keep strategy and planning simple.
- Undertake a few projects at a time that can be realistically accomplished.
- Delegate tasks across the firm.
- Build upon initial successes and move to more complex strategies, which will require more difficult degrees of change.
- Adopt management structures that enable the firm to act decisively and quickly. Replace structures that do not support such a culture.
Don't attempt to initially, in the short term, take on management projects that the firm is unwilling or unable to implement.