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Managing the Modern Law Firm: New Challenges, New Perspectives [Paperback]

Laura Empson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

22 July 2010 019958964X 978-0199589647 Reprint
The last ten years have been a period of extraordinary change for law firms. The rapid growth of corporate law firms and the emergence of global mega-firms have strained the traditional partnership model of management. Some managers of law firms are appalled at the creeping 'corporatism' that they fear may result. However a growing number believe that it is time to move on and adopt more contemporary forms of structure and management.

In Managing the Modern Law Firm scholars and legal practitioners examine the latest insights from management research, to enable law firms successfully to meet the challenges of this new business environment.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; Reprint edition (22 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019958964X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199589647
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

This book, edited by Laura Empson, provides a rich blend of historical perspective, scholarly analysis, and practical insight by an impressive group of professionals and academicians. It gives firm leaders plenty to think about. (Managing Partner Forum (US))

About the Author

Laura Empson is Professor in the Management of Professional Services Firms at Cass Business School, City of London, and was previously Director of the Clifford Chance Centre at Said Business School, University of Oxford. Her research has focused on a wide range of issues in accounting, consulting and law firms, including the organizational implications of strategic change, managing the post-merger integration process, overcoming impediments to knowledge-sharing among professionals, changing organizational and professional identities, and the governance of professional service firms. Prior to becoming an academic, Laura Empson worked for several years as an investment banker and strategy consultant and continues to act as a consultant to professional service firms. She has a Ph.D. and M.B.A. from London Business School.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guide to the issues facing the modern legal firm 17 July 2008
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Editor Laura Empson has collected papers that present the latest research on the evolution of the modern law practice. Although the writers here are academics, their papers are not overly technical. In straightforward language, they discuss the various challenges new international, corporate structures present to legal traditions, from public service to the "partnership ethos" to billing. getAbstract recommends this book to strategically minded legal executives who want to map out new directions while retaining the best of the old values and ethics.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When the "Partnership Ethos" Encounters the Corporate Model 20 Jun 2007
By Bruce Mac Ewen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This valuable and multi-faceted collection of essays jointly comprises one of the most sophisticated and nuanced views of how 21st Century law firms are trying to cope with growing pressure on the "partnership ethos" which largely sustained them for a century or more.

The primary source of that pressure is simple: Today's global US- and UK-based law firms have become substantial enterprises in their own right. (Nearly 20 have gross revenues in excess of US$1-billion/year.) Firms such as these can no longer be managed by untutored amateurs, nor can they be governed as Athenian democracies. But if the "Quaker town meeting" style of consensus governance is no longer feasible, firms are equally loathe--rightly so--to turn to pure command-and-control corporate models.

The struggle to reconcile the high-minded and intrinsically precious values embodied in the partnership ethos, with the need to be supple and economically powerful global institutions, is what this book is all about.

While many of the contributors are academics, the approach is by no means "academic." And the final chapter, by Tony Angel, global managing partner of the UK "Magic Circle" firm, Linklaters, is alone worth the price of the book.

Finally, Dr. Empson herself is aware that not all aspects of the partnership ethos are per se good.

* While partnership can form cohesive bonds, it can also work to exclude those outside the blessed fold, such as non-equity partners and extremely high-quality C-level executives.
* Are partners who view themselves as owners entitled to exercise "extreme and inappropriate behaviors"?
* Do clients and potential recruits (your firm's two key aspirational constituencies) understand and value the partnership ethos?
* If the "socialization process" that indoctrinates one for membership in the partnership is too effective, it can "represent a potentially serious block to change more generally...[the] partnership risks becoming a self-perpetuating collection of clones."
* Finally, the partnership ethos can be strengthened not just by preferentially selecting those candidates who embody it but by dealing decisively with those who belong to the partnership but who, for whatever reason, no longer embody its principles.

Incidentally, Dr. Empson just moved (mid-June 2007) from the Said Centre at the University of Oxford to a newly created chair as Professor in the Management of Professional Service Firms at Cass Business School in the City of London.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A general survey of some law firm management topics 24 Mar 2011
By John Gibbs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In recent years the competitive landscape for law firms has changed irrevocably, and models of law firm management developed last century are no longer applicable in the modern world, according to Laura Empson in this book. The book consists of essays contributed primarily by a range of academics, relating particularly to business models for large US and British domestic and international law firms. Contributions include:

Laura Empson: Why partnership is a good business structure for law firms, and the systems, structures and processes needed to make it thrive.

David Wilkins: Why diversity has not worked well for US law firms and remains a challenging issue.

Gardner, Morris and Anand: New practices can be developed within a firm with the right balance of turf, expertise and support.

Uzzi, Lancaster and Dunlap: There is a relationship between the strength of firm-client ties and the prices which firms change.

Huseyin Leblebici: There are various different methods of determining charges for providing legal services, although time costing remains the most popular.

Stephen Mayson: The value of a law firm depends on its financial, human, physical, social and organizational capital.

Peter Sherer: Analysis of the profits per partner, firm size and percentage of international offices of various different clusters of US law firms.

Royston Greenwood: The effect on professional behaviour of the increasing size, complexity and competitiveness of law firms.

Tony Angel: Achieving strategic alignment in a large international law firm.

While many of the topics listed in the book's table of contents are likely to be of considerable interest to practitioners, I found the discussion in most chapters to be too general to be useful, and the topics covered represent only a tiny fraction of what is involved in actually managing a modern law firm. I was disappointed to get to the end of the book without having found any particularly challenging or surprising insights. It is interesting to look at financial data for US law firms (chapter 8), but the data used is available elsewhere and several years out of date. Issues relating to diversity (chapter 3), developing new practices (chapter 4), client relationships (chapter 5) and billing practices (chapter 6) will already be well known to law firm managers and this book has little new to add.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Challenges of Global Law Firms 5 Jan 2008
By Janet H. Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
What makes one modern law firm successful--and another less so? This compilation of chapters analyzes today's multi-national firms and clarifies why some succeed and others fail.

The authors delve into a wide variety of topics--from law firm mergers across cultures, to the morphing of traditional partnership arrangements. As Bruce MacEwen correctly points out in his detailed review, the book thoroughly explores--and challenges-- the concepts of traditional partnership and the partnership "ethos".

Lawyers working for US-based law firms will particularly enjoy the critical analysis of 200 or so large U.S. firms. Some of the results may be surprising, such as that U.S. firms with limited international presences have the highest per partner profits. In addition, the book explains why the firms that internationalized later are usually more profitable. These firms took careful note of the early internationalizers--and learned from their mistakes.

One chapter reveals strategies for successfully launching new practice areas, including giving such attorneys lots of internal support (tangible and intangible). Perhaps surprisingly, hiring a "heroic founding partner" to launch a new practice area does not correlate to the practice's success.

Lawyers at global forms will particularly enjoy the comments about the "Magic Circle" firms and their ability to cultivate a sense of teamwork and partnership despite cultural divides.

This book ranks as one of my favorites of 2007. Any lawyer working at a global firm--or aspiring to do so--will really benefit from this book's insights.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars academic book with outdated data 28 Dec 2011
By yz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The style of the book is too academic and definitely is not a practical book for lawyers who wanted to know the real thing. Moreover, the data and examples cited and researches conducted were completely outdated, most of them were in 1980s and 1990s and some of them in early 2000s. Not a useful book for learning the fast changing legal practice.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guide to the issues facing the modern legal firm 17 July 2008
By Rolf Dobelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Editor Laura Empson has collected papers that present the latest research on the evolution of the modern law practice. Although the writers here are academics, their papers are not overly technical. In straightforward language, they discuss the various challenges new international, corporate structures present to legal traditions, from public service to the "partnership ethos" to billing. getAbstract recommends this book to strategically minded legal executives who want to map out new directions while retaining the best of the old values and ethics.
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