The Power of Partnership: Administrators, Business Partners Make for Natural Allies

03/01/2010
Published 03/01/2010

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A successful legal practice requires a team of lawyers, administrators and business partners. But don't let me forget the most important component: the client. Inclusiveness will produce better results for all, especially the client. Productivity by the law firm and, therefore, the profitability of the firm will also increase. No firm or lawyer should ever think of staff or business partners as "them." When it comes to a firm's survival in today's business environment, the only group that matters is "all of US."

Administrators and business partners should be natural allies in shaping a firm's business and economic success. The Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) raised this philosophy to the conscious level by replacing its use of the word "vendor" with "business partner," and its recent Association-wide rebranding reflects this in its brand promise to serve as: "Your connection to knowledge, resources and networking."

In many law firms, individual partners, even lawyers generally, have the ability to direct discretionary resource consumption, from purchasing new office furniture to charging the firm for personal meals and travel. Left to their own devices, these lawyers sometimes fail to understand the operation of the firm as a business with profit and loss issues. The dearth of lawyers' business competencies are built into their education. Most lawyers still enter law school with an undergraduate degree in the liberal arts. Law school curricula have little business focus. And few bar associations give Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) credit for courses in finance or management.

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