Leadership, Management and Organizational Structure

Successful law firms need leaders. These are visionaries who see the firm not as it is, but how it might be. They somehow see a path being forged through an uncertain future laden with obstacles and marketplace hostility. True leaders inspire. Leaders create collective "buy-in" because they have sufficient charisma to invoke a desire in others to follow the same path. They promote alignment, direction and progress in the organization as they lead intelligent people to pull their oars in rhythm.

Leaders are often "big picture" people who are not equipped to get bogged down in or pay sufficient attention to details. As the saying goes, "the devil is in the details." So leadership is not quite enough in today's law firm to ensure future success. Law firms need good managers as well. Managers - often scoffed at by their peers as the "paper clip counter" - have knowledge and control of the thousands of details necessary to successfully grease the wheels of the law firm mechanism.

Some firms are strongly consensus-driven, while others are autocratic. What works best depends as much on where the firm is in its life cycle, as it does on firm culture. Some firms are highly organized and compartmentalized into departments with practice chairs, while others are more like individual practitioners sharing overhead.

This section provides resources for understanding and operating under the different types of management structures. It provides resources for better understanding leadership and management roles.