Tackling Partner Underperformance 2nd edition

Indepth research, expert insight, and practical strategies for addressing the sensitive issue of partner underperfromance in law firms.

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  • Publication date: April, 2018
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 978-1-78358-325-6


The issue of underperformance at partner level remains incredibly agonizing and sensitive in law firms.

Low demand for legal services has been compounded by an increase in the competitive forces both inside and outside the legal profession. Life has become even more difficult for partners, for whom performance demands have increased at the same time as the availability of work has tailed off.

Underperformance continues to affect law firms in many ways, not least of which are diminished profitability, loss of opportunity, the disaffection of high performers, challenges to the firm’s values and falling morale. What is more, underperformance has to be seen not just in terms of productivity but also in terms of a more holistic approach to a firm’s standards.

Drawing on original and academic research from the past 8 years, and featuring contributions from law firm performance experts including Edwin Reeser, Angus Lyon, and Patrick McKenna, author Nick Jarrett-Kerr’s highly anticipated Tackling Partner Underperformance 2nd Edition covers topics including:

  • Ttrends in partner performance
  • Understanding why partners underperform or are underproductive
  • Judging, rating and evaluating partners
  • Aligning performance with partner compensation and rewards
  • Supporting and rehabilitating underperforming partners
  • Stress and mental illness impact on performance
  • Systems for partner performance management
  • Underperformance culture
  • Governance, communication and conflict management
  • And more.

Tackling Partner Underperformance 2nd Edition is arguably the most comprehensive study ever undertaken into partner underperformance in law firms, and those firms (regardless of size and location) who utilize and implement the information, advice and practical strategies for addressing this issue, will see significant differences in their productivity and ultimately profitability.


Chapter 1: Introduction and trends

Chapter 2: Clarifying and managing expectations of partnership

Chapter 3: Understanding why partners underperform or are underproductive

Chapter 4: Judging, rating and evaluating partners

Chapter 5: Adapting business metrics to fit law firms

By Edwin Reeser, president of Edwin B. Reeser and former managing partner of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP

Chapter 6: Aligning with partner compensation and rewards

Chapter 7: Supporting and rehabilitating underperforming partners

Chapter 8: When lateral hires fail

Chapter 9: Stress and mental illness – a wicked legal problem?

By Angus Lyon, co-founder and director of Catalyst Counselling CIC and former partner of Mears Hobbs & Durant

Chapter 10: Systems for partner performance management

Chapter 11: Performance management in medium-sized progressive law firms – a study of UK law firm Taylor Vinters

Chapter 12: Managing underperformance

Chapter 13: Options for coping with underperformers

Chapter 14: Lost causes and other thorny issues

By Patrick McKenna, internationally recognized author, strategist, advisor and lecturer

Chapter 15: Avoiding an underperformance culture

Chapter 16: Governance issues

Chapter 17: Communication and conflict management

Check our Executive Summary and full table of contents here


Nick Jarrett-Kerr
Nick Jarrett-Kerr is a specialist advisor to law firms and professional services firms worldwide on issues of strategy, governance and leadership development. Nick is a member of Edge International, a leading global consultancy to law firms, and in the last twelve years has established himself as one of the leading UK and international advisors. Prior to becoming a consultant, Nick was the Chief Executive Partner of Bevan Ashford, a leading regional firm in Great Britain, for eight years. Nick is the author of two published books on partner underperformance and law firm strategy, and is currently Visiting Professor at Nottingham Trent University where he leads the strategy modules for the Nottingham Law School MBA.
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).
Edwin Reeser
Edwin B. Reeser is a business lawyer specializing in structuring, negotiating and documenting complex real estate and business transactions. He also counsels law firms and lawyers on partnership agreements, partner compensation, lateral movement, professional ethics, capitalization and operations. He is the director of Edwin B. Reeser, a professional law corporation, the author of over 100 published articles, and is a former managing partner of firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal.
Angus Lyon
Angus Lyon has practised as a litigation solicitor for 35 years and, since 1987, as a partner at Mears Hobbs & Durrant. He has specialised as a claimant personal injury lawyer for the last 20 years and has regularly been recommended in this area of work in the Legal 500. He is a professional deputy. Partly as a result of his growing work in psychiatric injuries, Angus developed an interest in psychotherapy and obtained a secondary qualification as a counsellor. He is a registered member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, and is a director and co-founder of Catalyst Counselling CIC, a social enterprise providing counselling and training in East Anglia. He has been a LawCare volunteer since 2008.  

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