Leadership in Law Firms: An Expert Guide

A comprehensive overview of leadership principles and skills for new, emerging, and future leaders in law firms.

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A strong leader helps a law firm to foresee, avoid, and cope with crises and, as the past few years and difficult market conditions have proven, effective and strong leadership is a crucial requirement to the ongoing success of a law firm.

Based on the research, experience, and expertise of well-known experts on law firm leadership, current/past leaders of law firms, lawyers and consultants, Managing Partners new report - Leadership in Law Firms - provides a comprehensive overview of leadership principles and skills for new, emerging, and future leaders in law firms. 

It covers topics including:

  • Why law firms need leadership development
  • The lawyer mindset and the skills required for leadership
  • Identifying and training new leaders
  • The practice group leader path to law firm leadership
  • Advice to the new managing partner
  • Building trust and confidence in your leadership
  • Leading through times of uncertainty/change/crisis
  • The pathway partnership and management: A woman’s perspective
  • Building future and how partner admission criteria is changing
  • Unified front: Tips for building strong new leadership teams.

Leadership in Law Firms is also designed to help those currently in leadership positions to develop their skills, and it outlines the necessary steps they should take to ensure they have a pipeline of top-notch future leaders ready to step into their shoes.


Chapter 1: Leadership in law firms

Chapter 2: Leaders: Born or made?

Chapter 3: Law firm leadership development: The practice group leader path to law firm leadership

Chapter 4: The relationship between leadership and management in more successful law firms

Chapter 5: Leading lights: Lessons in law firm leadership development from GE

Chapter 6: Leading a law firm through crisis, change, or uncertainty

Chapter 7: Unified front: Tips for building strong leadership teams

Chapter 8: The pathway to law firm partnership and management: A woman’s perspective

Chapter 9: The inside-out approach to leadership

Chapter 10: Case study: Reservoir of trust – Build trust and confidence in your leadership

Check our Executive Summary and full table of contents here


Julious P. Smith
Julious P. Smith, chairman emeritus and past CEO, Williams Mullen
Tom Grella
Partner and past committee chair, McGuire, Wood & Bissette, and consultant, Strategic Legal Leadership
Jim Rishwain
Chair and chief executive officer, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Mark Beese
Mark Beese is president of Leadership for Lawyers, LLC, a consultancy focused on helping lawyers become better leaders and business developers. He provides training, coaching and consultation to firms in the areas of leadership development, business development and marketing with law firms across North America. His clients range from small, single office firms to global Amlaw 100 firms. Mark serves as on-call faculty at the Center for Creative Leadership, primarily involved in the design and delivery of bespoke and open enrolment leadership development programs for professionals, including lawyers, accountants, consultants and executives. He focuses on issues of change leadership, team development, influence, cross-generation issues, collaboration, innovation and design thinking. He is a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. In 2014 he was inducted into the Legal Marketing Association Hall of Fame, one of only 25 leaders to have received this honor.
Dr Larry Richard
Former lawyer and current psychologist to the legal profession
Caroline Walker
PR manager at Eversheds
Ian Paterson
Consultant, Performance Consultants, and managing director of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council
Lisa Borsook
Executive partner, and Gabriella O’Rourke, director of business development, WierFoulds
Harry P. Trueheart
Harry Trueheart is the chairman emeritus of Nixon Peabody LLP. Before this, he served as chairman, managing partner and CEO of the firm; he is also immediate past chair and CEO of TerraLex, a global network of more than 150 leading business law firms with more than 19,000 lawyers in 100 countries. Under Mr. Trueheart’s leadership, Nixon Peabody grew to be a national and international firm with offices in major US and international markets. He led Nixon Peabody to be recognized as a Fortune 100 Best Place to Work. His law practice has focused on dispute resolution, particularly arbitration of international business disputes. He is a Fellow of the College of Commercial Arbitrators, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association, for which he has also served on ICDR panels. He serves as a mediator for a Federal Court administered mediation program.
Jo Larbie
Consultant with Redstone Consultants
Ava Madon
Partner, Penningtons Manches
Gabriella O’Rourke
Gabriella O’Rourke is currently serving as the national director of practice management for the Commercial Litigation Group for Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) – the largest Canadian owned and operated full-service law firm. In this role she is accountable for improving total group performance in a number of critical areas, including financial performance (P&L), pricing, business strategy, talent and workforce planning, process improvements and client service standards. Gabriella acts as the most senior operations lead for the practice group, which consists of approximately 150 lawyers and paraprofessionals across five regions. Before BLG, Gabriella served as the director of marketing and business development for the largest regional law firm in Ontario, Canada, and has held National leadership roles in global consulting firms KPMG and Grant Thornton LLP.

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