Managing Legal Change Initiatives

Managing Legal Change Initiatives highlights the best methods of introducing and managing change in a sector that is known for being averse to it. 

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  • Publication date: August, 2017
  • Pages: 103
  • ISBN: 978-1-78358-300-3


Successfully managing a change initiative is no simple feat, regardless of the size of the firm – distilling the process of change into a workforce takes careful planning and support. Change is stressful and difficult for people to process and accept, as we often cling to what we know. This is especially true of lawyers, who are notoriously averse to change.

However, the legal sector has begun to rapidly transform – and the firms that don’t change with it are going to struggle to stay relevant. In these turbulent times for firms, change initiatives must be properly managed to ensure the whole firm can successfully shift to the new norm and stick to it. Without the proper support and management, a firm runs the risks of alienating their workforce – who will not take well to sudden and imposed change.

Managing Legal Change Initiatives looks to illustrate the best methods of introducing and managing change in a sector that is known for being adverse to it. The book highlights the critical obstacles and pitfalls that law firms will face during transitional periods, and outlines some of the best methods of approaching organizational change; from building a change framework to follow, to encouraging a shift in partner behavior through the compensation strategy. This new book also explores why change is so difficult for individuals – with discussion of the neuroscience behind change, and the role of emotional intelligence in leaders to help garner a transformation. 

With the disruptions to legal services predicted to continue for some time, it will be those firms who adapt, put into place, and act upon a change management strategy that will be the ones capitalize on changes to come.


Chapter 1: Understanding change – Understanding and working with the legal mind

  • Why do many lawyers find change to be so difficult? 
  • Understanding the hurdles to bringing about change 
  • What definitely does not work in introducing change 
  • Developing a sense of urgency that gets partner’s attention 
  • Some approaches that firm leaders have found to be effective
  • Fitting your leadership style to the challenge 

Chapter 2: Becoming change-able – Practical strategies for responding to a fast-changing world

  • The importance of being change-able 
  • The key components of a successful change programme
  • Dealing with rogue elephants and the strategically non-compliant 
  • Adopting Pareto for change
  • Communication is at the core of a successful programme 
  • Winning hearts and minds to create a change-able firm 

Chapter 3: A framework for effective change management 

  • McKinsey 7-S model 
  • Kotter’s eight-step process 
  • A cross-cultural framework 
  • Framework for behavioral change 
  • A change-readiness assessment 
  • Taking the plunge 
  • Appreciative inquiry 
  • Leading the change

Chapter 4: Once an opportunity is identified, what next? Creating and driving an innovation agenda

  • A “stage-gate” approach 
  • The stage-gate process in detail

Chapter 5: Succession planning – Ensuring losing a partner doesn’t mean losing a client

  • What should firms do to start to future-proof themselves?
  • Culture 
  • How to build a succession plan 

Chapter 6: Compensation to reward the right behaviors

  • What are the desired behaviors? 
  • Recognizing the need for a change in determining compensation 
  • Introducing incentives 
  • Compensation systems 
  • Incentivizing behaviors under different systems 
  • Conclusion 

Chapter 7: Changing minds – The neuroscience of change management in law firms 

  • Intentions vs behavior
  • Embracing change 
  • Building relationships
  • Improving learning 
  • Importance of insight
  • Leading change 

Chapter 8: Getting commitment to change 

  • Why people resist change 
  • The assumptions that create resistance 
  • Overcoming resistance to change 
  • Making change stick 
  • Conclusion 

Chapter 9: Strategic approaches to introducing change

  • Why do you think firms find change to be so difficult? 
  • What are some of the more common hurdles you have observed or experienced in bringing about change?
  • What definitely does not work in introducing change? 
  • How do you develop a sense of urgency that gets partners’ attention? 
  • Can you share some approaches that fi rm leaders have found to be effective? 
  • How does one fit their leadership style to the challenge?
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).
Arthur G. Greene
Principal, Boyer Greene LLC
Dr Bob Murray
Bob Murray, MBA, PhD is an internationally recognized expert in strategy, leadership, influencing, human motivation, and behavioral change. Bob’s insights are based on his wide experience in business as well as his deep knowledge of research in the areas of management, psychology, genetics and neurobiology. Clients include premier global law firms and mid-sized firms in Australia, the UK and Europe, alongside many Fortune Global 500 corporations. With his colleague Dr Alicia Fortinberry, Bob won the American Science Achievement Award and was appointed to head the Obama Administration’s comprehensive national work stress initiative. Bob’s latest book with Dr Alicia Fortinberry, Leading the Future: The new human science of law firm strategy and leadership (Ark Group, London), shows the potential impact of the new science of being human on organizational success. With Alicia he is also the author of the international best-sellers Creating Optimism and Raising an Optimistic Child (McGraw-Hill, New York). Dr Bob has lectured at Sydney, Melbourne, Duke, Tufts, South Florida and California State universities.
Andrew Hedley
Director, Hedley Consulting Ltd
Neryl East
Neryl East, MA, PhD, is a writer, academic, speaker and communication specialist with extensive experience in both internal and external communication in Australian government, private sector and not-for-profit organisations. Neryl’s specialties include issues management, change management; and integrating new and traditional media. She lectures in public relations and journalism, is in demand as a keynote presenter and trains organisations in many facets of communication including media skills and writing in plain language. In 2010 Neryl was selected as an ambassador for the Year of Women in Local Government, a programme supported by the Australian government. She is a member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia and the National Speakers Association of Australia. Neryl is the author of Named and Shamed: Rod Oxley’s inside story of the Wollongong corruption scandal and the Ark Group’s Strategic Internal Communications for Complex Organisations report, now in its second edition. Neryl can be contacted via her website.
Duncan Hart
Duncan Hart practiced as a barrister and solicitor for over 20 years before becoming the regional managing director of one of Australasia’s largest firms with over 2,000 employees. He became a full-time consultant in 2002. His various consultancies have taken him from Silicon Valley to Shanghai, and his clients include not only law firms, but a wide cross-section of industry groups, including manufacturing, health, education, and IT. Duncan’s first book, The Strategic Law Firm (Ark Group, 2010), argued the case for a more strategic approach to law firm management, and in particular the adoption of the types of strategic planning tools and methodologies that he had seen in operation in many of his clients’ industry sectors. More recently, his background in intellectual property has led him to explore more closely the role of disruptive technologies and business models in various sectors, including law, patent attorney, and other professions. Many of his recent assignments involve the so-called “start-up” sector, and larger more mature industries where clients are seeking to develop innovation-based strategies in fields as diverse as bio-tech and logistics. In all his assignments, Duncan draws from a rich palette of industry and professional experience, and he is committed to the belief that law firms, like any other business, have much to learn from other sectors, particularly in the area of innovation-based strategy. In short, they should be encouraged to experiment to find new, and hopefully better, solutions for both the firm and their clients. Duncan can be contacted via email at
Dr Alicia Fortinberry
Alicia Fortinberry, PhD (Organizational Psychology) has gained global recognition for her powerful, lasting impact on top-tier law and other organizations and leaders. Drawing on the latest science of human motivation and change, Alicia enables firms to shape strategy and build the right leadership, performance and diverse, cohesive culture. Alicia’s clients include internationals such as Herbert Smith Freehills and Allens Linklaters and major national and mid-sized law firms, as well as many Fortune Global 500 corporations. With her partner Dr Bob Murray, Alicia received the highly prestigious American Science Achievement Award and was appointed to head the US government’s comprehensive national work stress initiative. Their latest book, Leading the Future: The new human science of law firm strategy and leadership (Ark Group, London), guides leaders to apply the latest science to areas such as navigating a firm or practice group through rapid change, managing high performance teams, and understanding the needs and motivators of clients. With Bob she also wrote two international best-sellers Creating Optimism and Raising an Optimistic Child (McGraw-Hill, New York).
David J. Parnell
David J. Parnell is an author, speaker, Forbes and American Lawyer Media columnist, and the founder and principal of True North Partner Management, a partner-level legal search and placement firm. Along with his experience in private placement, he has previously worked in-house with the likes of Intel, Xircom, and DreamWorks SKG. Complimenting his Forbes and ALM columns, his work can also be found in publications such as The American Lawyer, Huffington Post, Venture Capital Post, Fox News Magazine, Lawyerist, Law360, Bloomberg, Australasian Lawyer, NBC News, The Global Legal Post, Business Insider, and NZ Lawyer, among others.
Carol Mynott
Director at PwC - Professional Services and Global Mobility
Nick Marson
CEO The Parallel Mind Ltd

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