Non-lawyers running the law firm

In 1995, the U.S. Government recognized my service mark, The Business of Law®. At that time, no one used the word “business” in the same sentence as “profession” when talking about the legal profession. Since then, more lawyers recognize that they are in a service business, but a business nevertheless. And the principles of business are now being reviewed and considered by more lawyers than before. Years ago, I wrote a piece that suggested that even sole practitioners would be well-advised to engage an executive director. The cost-benefits favor the lawyer many fold, though too few sole practitioners recognize this.

Today, large firms are engaging professionals to run their practice, their business. For example, Pepper Hamilton recently engaged a non-lawyer to be the CEO; this isn’t the first firm, though still only a select few, have moved in this direction. They are beginning to understand that it is the lawyer who can set the strategy … and it is the lawyer who must do what only the lawyer can do, get the business (marketing) and do the work (production). But, others – professionally trained and skilled as support for the law firm – can take the law firm to higher levels of success than would otherwise be the case.


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