Lately I’ve been spending a substantial amount of time working with law firm leaders on evaluating and redesigning — yes, substantially rewriting — partner compensation plans. As with many other categories of the law firm business, for far too long law firms have operated as if practicing law relies on, and generates, human behavior that is not subject to ordinary rewards and incentives found elsewhere. Incentive compensation is an area of significant study in businesses everywhere, yet most law firms have ignored the available research and developed plans that are simultaneously simplistic (focusing on billable hours as the primary objective), complex (requiring significant manual compilation and exhausting negotiations), and ineffective (too few are specifically linked to the firm’s strategic plan).

I’ll be writing much more on this topic in the days ahead as we unwind and reinvent law firm compensation. I’m interested in your views on law firm compensation plans, so feel free to share insights and observations below or connect with me offline. Your insights, whether I agree or not, may be included in future articles. For now, enjoy the recent conversation I had with Lee Pacchia of Mimesis Law WebTV as we discuss how self-generated distractions of poor compensation plans can impair law firm productivity.

 

 

Timothy B. Corcoran is the immediate past President of the Legal Marketing Association and an elected Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. He delivers keynote presentations, conducts workshops, and advises leaders of law firms, in-house legal departments, and legal service providers on how to profit in a time of great change.  To inquire about his services, contact him at +1.609.557.7311 or at tim@corcoranconsultinggroup.com.

Print Friendly

7 Reasons Why Your Law Firm Has Not Yet Found the Right CMO

February 11, 2015

A number of law firm leaders have expressed concerns to me regarding what they perceive to be a lack of quality and qualified candidates for the most senior law firm marketing positions, such as chief marketing officer or chief business development officer. It’s certainly plausible that some candidates who rose to senior-level law firm positions […]

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Upcoming Workshops on Process Improvement and Project Management in Chicago and Washington, DC

September 18, 2014

While many visitors enjoy reading my insights into the changing face of the legal profession, others want more in-depth advice, instruction, and counseling.  Luckily, there’s an app for that! In my day job as a management consultant, I work on-site with law firms, law departments, and legal service providers to embed and operationalize new ideas […]

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Linking Business Development to Partner Compensation

September 15, 2014

In recent years, as client fee pressure has increased and client loyalty has decreased, law firms are investing significant time and money in business development programs. Some partners receive training to dust off selling skills that were largely unnecessary during a time of plenty. Other partners receive training, then individualized coaching, then more training, then […]

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Demystifiying Law Firm Marketing, Part 1: What is it?

September 3, 2014

In my consulting practice I work with many sophisticated lawyers and experienced businesspeople. I also work with professionals, lawyers and businesspeople alike, who are exposed for the first time to new disciplines outside their comfort zone — marketing, finance, pricing, project management, process improvement, and so on. Increasingly I’ve faced a number of questions on […]

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Bar Associations: Protecting Consumers or the Status Quo?

July 2, 2014

Some Bar Associations are behind the times. And some are challenged by the dual and potentially conflicting roles they play: one, to self-regulate the practice of law in order to protect consumers; and two, to protect the guild of lawyers from competition. A recent Texas State Bar ethics ruling demands a reaction because not only […]

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Law Firms Getting Schooled

May 7, 2014

Law firm partners have a curious approach to addressing client needs.  Imagine a crowded subway car in which a General Counsel is sitting comfortably while a Biglaw partner stands next to him. When the train lurches, the partner inadvertently stomps on the GC’s foot. “Ouch,” exclaims the GC, “You’re standing on my foot.” The partner’s […]

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

What’s next for law firm leaders?

April 24, 2014

MimesisLaw: “Senior Privilege: How Some Law Firms Stifle Rainmaker Development” I met with Lee Pacchia on Mimesis Law‘s “Business of Law” web TV program to discuss, among other topics, my recent post in which I described how some law firms are stifling the growth of future rainmakers.  I made a few bold comments, many of […]

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

Ceding the Stage – Lessons in Leadership

April 9, 2014

I’ve been engaged in a lively discussion with other legal marketers in which two topics I love, basketball and leadership, have come together nicely.  You don’t have to be a basketball fan, or even a sports fan, to benefit from the leadership lessons that are often played out, literally, on the courts and fields for […]

Print Friendly
Read the full article →

The Changing Definition of Value: What Matters Most to In-House Counsel

February 26, 2014

The rules have changed. Law firm partners worldwide reached professional maturity in a much simpler world: One delivered a quality work product and everything else fell into place. Clients were satisfied, lawyers were engaged in thought-provoking work, associates received good training and generous, albeit hard-earned, revenues and profits ensued. This worked. Until it didn’t. As […]

Print Friendly
Read the full article →