Effective Practice Group Leadership

Effective Practice Group Leadership examines the demanding role of the practice group leader (PGL) in law firms today

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  • Publication date: September, 2017
  • Pages: 100


Law firm practice group leadership is not for the faint hearted.

As firms compete increasingly at practice group level, leaders are being asked to run their groups like business units; to develop and implement a strategic plan that supports the goals and competitiveness of the firm; and to coordinate and lead their partners to enhance the efficiency, performance, and profitability of their groups. Many firm leaders complain that some of their group heads are not producing the results they want to see. But how many practice group leaders receive the tools and support they need to succeed in this critical role? How many are selected for demonstrable leadership skills? And how often are they held accountable for how well – or otherwise – they perform in the role?

With contributions from a wide range of experts, Effective Practice Group Leadership explores these key questions and more. The book examines the demanding role of the practice group leader (PGL) in law firms today, the challenges of the role – from gaining buy-in for group initiatives to approaches to measuring and managing performance of the leader and the group – and demonstrates the enormous contribution PGLs can make to the profitability and performance of their law firms, when armed with the tools and the authority. 


The role of practice group leaders in their law firms
  • Duties and responsibilities
  • Planning
  • Productivity
  • Economic performance
  • New client/new matter intake and file assignment procedures#
  • Associate mentoring, compensation adjustments, and growth
  • Partner compensation recommendations
  • Marketing
  • Succession planning
  • Lateral candidate opportunities
  • Concluding comment
The practice group leader as a change agent 
  • What does it mean to be a change agent in your role as a PGL?  
  • What else does a PGL need to be a change agent?  
  • How does a PGL succeed as a change agent?  
  • Benefits of being a change agent
The plight of the practice group leader, Part 1: Implementing practice initiatives 
  • Practice initiatives a leader can pursue
  • Learning the magic – How to get lawyers to follow through on collaboration and productivity commitments
The plight of the practice group leader, part 2: The costs and benefits of investing in practice group leaders
  • The cost side
  • Why do it?
  • Can the leader pay his keep?
  • The problem of getting work
  • The need to empower the leader
  • How to do it?
  • Appendix: The law firm economic model (hourly billing)
Developing a practice group pricing strategy 
  • Why pricing strategies cannot be developed at a firm level
  • Essential elements of a practice group pricing strategy 
Focusing your practice team on industry clients
  • It is not what you call the industry, it is what the client calls itself that is most important
  • As all industries eventually mature they naturally fracture into multiple sub-industries
  • There are some areas of opportunity that initially defy simple industry categorization
  • Industry sector expertise is a key differentiator
How to survive and succeed leading a multi-generational practice group
  • Challenges
  • Solutions
  • Change management
Leading collaboration across practice groups
Implementing the balanced scorecard at the practice group level
  • The balanced scorecard – An overview of Kaplan and Norton’s system
  • The balanced scorecard in its most basic form
  • The balanced scorecard as a management tool
  • Implementing the balanced scorecard at the practice group level – A “how to” primer
Check our Executive Summary and full table of contents here


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).
Susan Raridon Lambreth
Principal at Law Vision Group
Dr Larry Richard
Former lawyer and current psychologist to the legal profession
Jack Bostelman
Jack Bostelman is president of KM/JD Consulting LLC in San Francisco, California, which advises law firm leaders on practice management, including knowledge management and other productivity improvements. Before founding KM/JD Consulting, Jack was a partner for over 20 years at pre-eminent AmLaw 20 firm Sullivan & Cromwell in New York City, where he had a nationally recognized transactional securities law practice and exercised management responsibilities.
Heidi K. Gardner
Distinguished fellow in the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School.
Phyllis Weiss Haserot
Practice Development Counsel
John Sterling
John Sterling is chief marketing offi cer at Sterne Kessler Goldstein & Fox, a leading IP specialty fi rm based in Washington, DC. He is also the founding partner of Sterling Strategies, LLC. Prior to founding Sterling Strategies, John was a founding partner at Smock Sterling Strategic Management Consultants. He has over 30 years of experience in strategic management and market research. John has worked extensively with law and other professional service fi rms, as well as with industrial and consumer product companies and not-for-profi t organisations. His work with TimeLine Theatre Company in Chicago won the Richard Goodman Strategic Planning Award for excellence in strategic planning from the Association for Strategic Planning. John is past president of the Strategic Management Association in Chicago and is a contributing editor to the business journal Strategy & Leadership.
Colin Jasper
Director at Jasper Consulting
Joel A Rose
Joel A. Rose is a Certified Management Consultant and president of Joel A. Rose & Associates, Inc., management consultants to the legal profession. The firm, national in scope, is headquartered in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Joel received a B.S. from New York University and an M.B.A. from the Wharton Graduate School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. He has extensive experience consulting with private law firms and government agencies. Joel performs and directs consulting assignments in law xiv About the authors firm management and organization, strategic and financial planning, lawyer compensation, the feasibility of mergers and acquisitions and marketing of legal services. He has extensive experience planning and conducting retreats and special expertise resolving problems among and between lawyers. Joel’s articles on law office management and economics appear in the Philadelphia Legal Intelligencer, the Pennsylvania Law Weekly, the New Jersey Law Journal, the New York Law Journal, publications of the Association of Legal Administrators, and other state and local bar association journals. Joel wrote the chapter, “Identifying and Defining Criteria for Determining Partner Compensation”, in the publication, Compensation Design for Law Firms, and the chapter, “Components of a Well Conceived Partner Compensation System”, in the book Compensation Re-design for Law Firms, both published by The Ark as US pub Group. Joel is on the Board of Editors of Accounting and Financial Planning for Law Firms and Law Firm Partnership and Benefits Report. Joel is a member of the Law Practice Committee of the American Bar Association.

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