Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

What is the Managing Partner’s Role in Your Firm?

managing partners role Close to 90 percent of the NC law firms that participated in this year’s Managing Partner Summit have a designated Managing Partner or Managing Committee.

That shouldn’t be terribly surprising. It was a Managing Partners gathering, after all.

But two-thirds of those firms don’t have a formal job description for their Managing Partner. And three-quarters haven’t named a successor or figured out what will happen when the current manager steps down.

Those are some of the findings from a survey of firms that attended the inaugural NC Managing Partners Summit back in May.

Leaders from 64 law offices across the state convened at the NC State Bar building in Raleigh to exchange ideas on how to survive – and thrive – in a rapidly changing legal environment.

Speakers talked about succession planning, growth strategies and client development. Panelists swapped ideas on technology, office design and talent management. Attendees brainstormed what works – and what doesn’t – in their offices.

“When we learn from each other, all of us benefit,” says Camille Stell, Vice President of Client Services at Lawyers Mutual, which sponsored the event.

What is the Job Description for the Managing Partner?

Eighty-eight percent of attendees said their firm has a Managing Partner, and 49 percent have a Management Committee.

But 66 percent have not prepared a Managing Partner job description, 75 percent don’t have term limits for the position, and 73 percent have not identified a successor.

Even more striking, a whopping 77 percent said they are not actively identifying, mentoring and training the next generation of leaders for their firms.

What are the Managing Partner’s Duties?

One of the most fascinating parts of the survey is the section that asks: “What are the most important duties of the Managing Partner in your firm?”

Answers ranged from creating long-term strategy to handling short-term administrative tasks. Here is a sample of the responses:

  • Strategic leadership
  • Financial management
  • Leading strong-willed individuals to achieve common good
  • Managing growth in practice areas
  • Displaying good judgment, thoughtfulness and confidence
  • Overseeing all operations, including trust and office funds
  • Being the “holder of the vision”
  • Dealing with new business
  • Handling concerns of clients and third-parties
  • In charge of budget and finance
  • Setting the tone for client-centered hospitality and service
  • Firm culture
  • Providing a vision for future growth while navigating day-to-day obstacles
  • Fostering cohesiveness and communication
  • Analyzing business operations
  • Watchdog
  • Keeping the ship afloat while anticipating the rocks around the bend (and trying to plan a course around them)
  • Scouting for new associates
  • Mentoring associates
  • Fiscal management
  • Inspiring trust among attorneys and support staff
  • Promoting the firm
  • Facilitating long-term planning
  • Managing the firm budget
  • Ensuring operations run smoothly and consistently with the firm’s mission
  • Being accessible to other attorneys and staff
  • Managing expectations
  • Managing people
  • Making sure firm policies and procedures are followed
  • Providing goals, especially for associates
  • Helping different practice groups mesh together
  • Smart decision-making
  • Team building
  • Staying abreast of cash flow.

Want to learn about upcoming programs like the Managing Partners Summit? Contact the Client Services Department at Lawyers Mutual.

Source: Lawyers Mutual Managing Partners Summit 2018 Survey

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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