Being able to demonstrate to your firm’s management team that you have a keen understanding of the business of law, management principles, and partnership culture can cement your reputation as a leader in your firm and help boost your career to the next level. Unfortunately, when it comes to management and business administration, most legal marketing professionals have had only on-the-job training.
Programs like the LMA Capital Chapter MBA Day Camp can help introduce and clarify key business concepts that have practical applications for legal marketers; but, if you are interested in digging a little deeper, you may want to consider pursuing a Master’s degree or certificate program in law firm management. Such programs can provide many of the career benefits of a traditional MBA. Blending the foundations of the MBA curriculum with the unique framework of the law firm environment, students develop a comprehensive understanding of the challenges facing, and the skills and perspectives required of, effective law firm leaders; what drives economic performance in different segments of legal services; and about how to align firm strategy, organization and professionals. Case studies on law firms and other professional service firms challenge students to work through solutions to real-world issues that firm leaders face. Students assess their existing leadership knowledge and skills, identify areas requiring further development, and work to develop clear individualized leadership development plans. However, unlike traditional MBA programs, which typically take two years to complete when attending classes full-time, Master’s degree programs in law firm management can typically be completed in 12-18 months and are designed for students who are employed full-time within law firms or vendors servicing law firms.
A significant component of the curriculum centers on sharpening leadership skills, recruiting and motivating the right professionals, and developing and incentivizing them effectively. As a firm leader, developing and retaining a staff that are invested in their ongoing contributions to the firm is of utmost importance to law firm success. The bottom line is: reduced turnover lowers firm costs. Coursework focused on using conflict and collaboration to drive motivation and performance, leading high performance teams, and managing through organizational change, helps leaders keep their teams in place longer and encourages those teams to become more invested in, and effective contributors to, firm success. If you are interested in pursuing a leadership role within a law firm setting, honing these advanced skill sets, which can be immediately brought to bear, could prove to be a differentiator.
By Emily Flowers, Senior Marketing Coordinator, Communications, McDermott Will & Emery LLP for the September/October 2014 issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter.