Inside Track: Succession Planning: Where Will Your Firm’s Next Leaders Come From?:

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    Succession Planning: Where Will Your Firm’s Next Leaders Come From?

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    Feb. 19, 2014 – Effective succession planning usually requires developing future leaders within a law firm. Succession planning is critical to a firm’s future viability, helps protect client interests, and is an ethical responsibility. In this video, Michael Moore explains why firms, and solo practitioners, should not procrastinate.

    Knowledge Transfer Strategies

    Knowledge transfer strategies are important for the development of the next generation that’s going to lead your law firm and to retain your clients and your revenue. Moore advises firms to:

    1. Identify the lawyers in your firm who you believe are your potential future leaders; and

    2. Mentor them so they understand the culture of your clients.

    Knowledge transfer of client relationships will retain the revenue stream and the relationships with those clients when a current leader is no longer there.

    Ethical Duty

    “When a lawyer is a member of a law firm, it is assumed that the other lawyers in the firm will step in to handle important matters and safeguard clients’ interests and confidentiality should something happen,” said Moore. “However, handling a death or disability in a firm ad hoc is a grave disservice to clients and the firm.”

    According to the Rules of Professional Conduct, creating a succession plan is an ethical obligation for all firms, including solo practitioners. “The Rules clearly state that lawyers have an ethical duty to approach succession planning,” he said. “The Rules also make it clear that managing lawyers must ensure processes are in place to avoid chaos that may occur if a member of the firm should suddenly die or be unable to continue for any reason.”

    Your Firm is Unique

    Each firm must develop its own plan. You can’t just adopt another firm’s plan. “Every law firm has a unique culture created by the shared values of its lawyers,” said Moore. “These shared values are demonstrated through behaviors that are deemed appropriate and acceptable for creating success at that firm. The values then become internalized part of daily routines. The values also help define the expectations of those lawyers who choose to embrace the firm’s unique culture.”

    Develop Your Plan Today

    “Don’t procrastinate,” said Moore. “Firms are often geared to measuring billable hours and revenue production. We don’t allow ourselves the time to think and develop and plan for the future. We need to make space for these areas.”

    To begin, Moore advises firms to focus on four key areas:

    • How is your firm prepared to handle change?

    • How is your firm going to bridge the generation gap?

    • How is your firm addressing diversity as the country becomes more and more diverse?

    • How does your succession plan address technology, as it is radically changing the way we practice law?

    A strong succession-planning program transmits crucial knowledge, provides mentoring, reserves current client relationships, develops new ones, and grooms future law firm leaders. For more information and to begin developing your plan, read Moore’s article, Succession Planning: Where Will Your Firm’s New Leaders Come From?, published in the February 2014 Wisconsin Lawyer.

    Michael F. Moore is a professional coach for lawyers and founder of Moore’s Law, Milwaukee. He has more than 25 years’ experience in private practice, as a general counsel, in law firm management, and in legal recruiting.

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