Law firm managing partners appear to care more about compensation than representation

An item in Managing Ptr. Advocate, Vol. 14, Dec. 2007, at 7, lays out the results from managing partners from 70 law firms who selected the “most pressing issue facing your law firm today.”

Outstripping the other six choices was “Maintaining and enhancing profitability,” which got 57 percent of the choices. How else can a general counsel read that issue than one of making lots of money, on a profits per partner basis? If making lots of money is the winning the big pot, law departments are the suckers at the table.

Next come two related issues, “Recruiting and retaining young lawyers” (17%) and ”Succession plan” (10%). A cynic, or merely a realist, could read these two items as worries about the ability of the firm after the managing partner retires to return capital or make retirement payments. Again, bundles of money drive the issue.

The remaining issues point in the same direction: “We want to be very lucrative.” One is the issue of “Dealing with problematic/underperforming partners” (7%) which means they want to force out or demote all but the rainmakers and thus drive up profits per equity partner. “Competition” (3%) hardly perturbs these managing partners; it is matched as an issue of barely any concern by “Compensation.”

Taken as a whole, if these concerns are representative and true, regard for client service has been trampled by the almighty dollar.

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