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The Law Firm of the Future

Adapting to a Changed Legal Marketplace

John M. Westcott

During the “golden age of law firm growth” from the late 1960s until 2007, most large law firms adopted a default growth strategy, increasing practice areas and offices, aided by the momentum of the tail winds of law firm growth. Since the recession of 2008-2009, however, the legal marketplace has drastically changed. In this timely book, Jay Westcott suggests strategic building blocks that firms can adopt in order to adapt themselves to this radical change and prosper as lasting institutions.
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Chapter 4: Effective governance

John M. Westcott


Law firms have grown very large, and, like large business corporations, need more centralized management to handle the complexity of their size. Governing a large law partnership needs to recognize the difference between a large law firm and other large businesses – the partner, who is both an owner of and participant in the business. Also, law firms need leaders of practice areas, who must set the tone for the practice area as well as being superb administrators. Most practice areas require a mixture of leaders, those who epitomize the practice skills to which others aspire and those with administrative and organizational skills. There is a need for other leaders in other functions, and the large law firm has to reward adequately its leaders internally as well as compensate those who do the legal work and generate clients. Fundamentally, there is a need for strategic planning in most law firms, and a need to present the law firm as distinctive.

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