Law Firms

Law Firms Need to Act More Like Businesses and Hire Accordingly, Prof Says

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Law firms need to start acting more like businesses, a management professor says, and they could start by hiring “business-savvy nonlawyers” for leadership roles.

Writing for the Washington Post’s Capital Business column, George Washington University business professor James Bailey says law firms need to beef up their executive teams by hiring people with business and management training. This will help compensate for lawyers’ lack of management training.

He also suggests that law firms need to:

• Introduce flat fees and other alternative fees, “a big departure from the neat and tidy billable hour.”

• Pursue alliances and mergers to offer more services to clients. “While many law firm partners would recoil at the comparison, Target is successful because it’s one-stop shopping,” Bailey writes.

• Do a better job of retaining top talent. One example: practice group chairs should be compensated based on the group’s performance, rather than individual performance.

Bailey’s views are a sharp contrast to those of the author of another Washington Post article published this weekend. Columnist Steven Pearlstein writes that law firms need to turn their firms “back into genuine partnerships and their business back into a profession.”

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