Can lawyers both practice law and manage their practice?

"To be or not to be, that is the question." 

The Dewey firm’s managing partner logged 3,300 hours last year, or 12.6 hours per week day. And Orrick’s managing partner has not practiced law since 1992; he’s been managing the law firm. Was the difference in management culture the reason the announced merger between these firms failed in the end?

Probably not, but it certainly highlights the differences in approach amongst large firms … and the trend toward more professional and full time management is clear. It’s becoming ever more difficult to both manage a large law firm enterprise and practice law on a full-time basis.   See today’s Wall Street Journal for an interesting article by Nathan Koppel (January 22 @ page B3) on "professional law firm management" in today’s large law firms.

As I’ve noted in previous comments,  Lee Iacocca stopped designing cars when he moved into top management of Ford and then Chrysler.  The top coach (see the current Super Bowl contenders) can’t be that and both offensive and defensive coordinators. It’s not possible to handle top level skills all at the same time.  Business (and law is a business), just like football teams, has many "players" and is too complex  to have one person do all the functions needed to operate effectively.


Should top law-firm managers have active law practices?
Lawyers respect great lawyers
Client contact keeps you current with business needs
Sends message that law is a profession
Lack of focus on strategic planning
Lack of time for communicating with colleagues
Lack of time to recruit

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