With wit, wisdom and a knack for cutting through the nonsense, Ed Wesemann’s latest book, Looking Tall by Standing Next to Short People again addresses the most perplexing issues facing law firms today. Hoping that you “disagree with large portions” of his take on the minefield of legal management, Ed’s purpose in offering his extensive insights is to ignite the exchange of ideas, creative dialogue, enthusiasm and – most importantly – action. Ed tackles legal management’s hot button issues by delving into six general topics: The role of partners ~ Massive non-equity partnership ranks results in a large group of lawyers who don’t meet any “full partner” criteria but are too senior to be associates. What happens when there are no “up or out” reviews in place to prevent partners from sapping up the work that should be going to associates? The operation of partnerships ~ We used to talk about managing law firms – now we govern them. Mergers ~ It’s been a sleepy couple of years where merger activity has largely been less than expected. But the natural maturation of the legal industry won’t let the lull last for long. Business development ~ Business development is the same as it has been since the founders of our most venerable law firms hung out their shingles. Everything else is details. Strategy ~ Figuring out what has to be done to be more profitable is easy. The issue is what to do to make those things actually occur – that’s strategy.
If there was a handbook for members of law firm management, it would be The First Great Myth of Law Firm Management is that it Exists. Dealing with the tough topics that managing partners worry about but many consultants are afraid to tackle, The First Great Myth– collects some of Ed Wesemann’s most popular articles from publications around the world, including his famous monthly e-mail columns. Some of the topics covered include: Firing Unprofitable Clients: Many firms get so busy pushing hours and rates that they overlook a critical review of their clients as an opportunity to “pick some low hanging fruit”. Ten Terrible Truths About Law Firm Strategic Planning: Law firms have trouble implementing strategic plans because it is a flawed process from the beginning. Valuing Management: Law firms aren’t really mismanaged – most aren’t managed at all. That’s what you get when you have volunteers running your business. Taking the Easy Way Out: Non-equity Partnerships: Many firms think that by making non-equity partners they have solved their problems with unproductive partners and associate leverage. Wrong! Ten Terrible Truths About Law Firm Compensation: Some law firms equate compensation with management as if lawyers were commission-based aluminum siding salesmen. It’s time to take a new look at the way we pay people. Hitting the Wall: Six Rules to Managing the Mega Practice: Most major business developers top out at about$3 million in annual billings. It’s time to help the elite billers manage their practices. Knowledge Management: The Emperor Has No Clothes: For most law firms, all of the money and effort spent on knowledge management is a waste of time. For anyone to benefit from KM, law firms have to change the way they do business. Pricing to the Market: Some clients are more price sensitive than others. It is possible to identify the clients who are willing to accept higher rates before you send the bill.
Dominance is an integral aspect of strategy. Strategy, whether in war, sports or business, is about how one can place themselves in a competitive position that gives them an advantage over competitors. If that position can be made so overwhelming by one competitor that others are effectively taken out of effective competition, that competitor is dominant. Dominance wins. The game is over. Everyone else is playing for second place or lower. Creating Dominance describes how successful law firms have gone about dominating their marketplaces – be they a practice area, a city or an industry. The book begins by describing the characteristics that identify a dominant firm and the precise strategies law firms can use to put themselves in a position of dominance.