The Changing of the Guard: Selecting Your Next Firm Leader, 2nd edition

Fully revised and updated in 2017, with exclusive new content and even more contributions from current firm leaders, the second edition of The Changing of the Guard: Selecting Your Next Firm Leader draws on the author’s decades of experience advising the leaders of premier professional service firms, along with extensive original research. 

Additional taxes may be applicable


  • Publication date: March, 2017
  • ISBN: 978-1-78358-280-8


When a firm leader leaves suddenly, the firm can be thrown into chaos. Even when the leader’s departure is predictable, as in the case where their term is reaching an end, numerous uncertainties remain (such as the identity of an appropriate successor) that, if handled poorly, can have a major negative impact on the firm’s performance.

Firms need to be aware of this phenomenon and take appropriate steps to ensure they have a controlled and effective succession process in place that minimizes the inevitable “disruption time”, and leads to the eventual appointment of the most qualified candidate for the job. What every firm wants to avoid is a knee-jerk reaction that sees a high-performing partner with no management experience catapulted into the managing partner role – with no idea of the magnitude of the task involved.

The Changing of the Guard is packed with useful exhibits, thought-provoking questionnaires, and advice direct from new, current, and past firm leaders, this is a straightforward, step-by-step guide to leadership succession planning, which will help firms establish what they want their future to look like – and find the best person to lead them there. 

  • Patrick McKenna truly is the expert on law firm management and strategy issues and he is internationally recognised and acclaimed for his work.
  • The report provides a complete framework for law firms to use when developing an effective and coherent process for succession planning.
  • Contains input from newly appointed law firm leaders on the succession process within their firm which highlight the challenges these leaders faced and advice for firms about to embark on a similar process.
  • Contains information from recent research and surveys conducted by the author with law firms and firm leaders. 

This report includes:

  • 15 pragmatic “how-to” chapters;
  • 12 useful appendices covering topics as diverse as understanding what it takes to become a firm leader, to the delicate dynamics involved if you select co-managing partners, and advice from new firm leaders; and
  • 20 key exhibits that can be tailored to your own firm, including nominating committee terms of reference, various sample internal memoranda, examples of firm leader evaluation criteria, and sample candidate interview questions.

New material includes:

  • Self-evident truths about relinquishing leadership
  • What a successful firm leader is not – advice from Dom Esposito, CPA, CEO of ESPOSITO CEO2CEO, LLC
  • Why nice leaders are not necessarily effective leaders
  • Why “visionary leadership” is a myth (and a shared vision is the way forward)
  • Lessons learned from new firm leaders
  • How new firm leaders can avoid being blindsided


This book will help you to:

  1. Consider your firm’s current situation – Which of five key typologies does your firm fall into (successful, complacent, stagnating, distressed, unsettled)?
  2. Identify the trends and developments most likely to impact your firm – What do you expect your future to look like?
  3. Use this information to identify the skills required of the leader who can take your firm forward.
  4. Choose the best process for your firm to nominate, interview, and select your next firm leader. 


Based on the experience and expertise of an author who has decades of experience advising the leaders of premier professional service firms around the globe, the book will help you answer key questions such as:

  1. Should you set term limits for your new leader?
  2. What tools and resources will they need to be successful in the job?
  3. How do you measure a firm leader’s performance, and how should you compensate them or hold them accountable?
  4. What points should you consider when you select co-managing partners?


Through the author’s exclusive research, interviews, and work with professional service firm leaders, you will also discover:

  • How successful long-term leaders recharge their batteries and maintain momentum;
  • Characteristics that managing partners think make an effective managing partner;
  • What experience/background is most helpful when taking on the position of leader;
  • What are the most significant challenges encountered by firm leaders; and
  • How long leaders say it takes to reach optimum effectiveness in the role. 
Download chapters


Patrick J. McKenna
Patrick J. McKenna is an internationally recognized author, lecturer, strategist, and seasoned advisor to the leaders of premier professional service firms. His published articles have appeared in over 50 leading professional journals and his most notable book, First Among Equals (2002), topped bestseller lists in the US, Canada and Australia and has been translated into nine languages. He was recently voted by the readers of Legal Business World as one of only seven international Thought Leaders (2017).

You may also be interested in..

Think about attending..