Fran Musselman — a visionary

This evening, in Philadelphia, I had the pleasure of meeting Fran Musselman, former chair of the ABA’s Law Practice Management chair. The occasion was the presentation of the LPM Section’s highest honor, the Sam Smith Award.

During his comments, Fran talked about the basic principles that guided him during his long, illustrious career and as chairman of the major New York law firm, Milbank, Tweed law firm.

His principles were:
1. The client comes first
2. The client comes first
3. The client comes first
4. The client comes first
5. The client comes first
He added that the lawyer must be the conscience of the client. The client is not necessarily “right” at all costs; the lawyer cannot allow the client to do anything, if that “anything” is inappropriate.

6. The staff must be considered; they are extremely important to the success of the law firm and are too often under-appreciated.
7. Take care of your staff.
8. Take care of your staff.
9. Take care of your staff.

10. Take care of your partners
11. Last, take care of yourself.

These are the principles which guided him to success. They are words to live by.

Parenthetically, I just learned that the Bar Association of the State Bar of Washington has rejected MCLE credit for a program focusing on “Managing Client Expectations.” In their words, the intent of the program is to teach marketing skills to lawyers. This is astounding! … And pathetic! Helping lawyers to understand the needs of clients and managing clients’ expectatins such that the rules of professional conduct are honored is the highest calling! Helping lawyers focus on clients, and concurrently make more money, also helps the clients by protecting lawyers from becoming marginal and likely invade the clients’ trust account.

Fran also suggested that the computer should be used as a management tool and lamented that the computer is too oftehn misused with the result that collegiality among lawyers is destroyed.

Wise words! Despite Fran’s 80 years, he is still active in the New York bar and very wise in his commentaries.


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