What every business-minded player knows, though, is that change really comes from the marketplace. It's the clients/customers who establish the terms and conditions for transactions - and, more importantly, if any transactions will take place.
At the end of the 1970s, the U.S. market filled the moat will alligators and pulled down the drawbridge on American cars. In the back, what were getting in were cars made in Japan and Germany.
It took out-of-the-box leadership like Lee Iacocca's to clear the moat and re-open the drawbridge. The market returned to American models.
Over and over again, consultant studies have hammered the immediate need for law firms to change. Given that, the findings of the 10th annual Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition study are alarming, at least to those who would like to continue working in the law firm as we have known it.
A third of those responding had low confidence in the firm's leadership to navigate change.
Worse, about 50% rated the partners' awareness of the business issues impacting the industry as low.
Another chilling statistic is that 57% do not believe the leadership is serious about creating more value.
In contrast, as I explain in this article I published this week in Odwyerpr.com, almost 90% of those in public relations anticipate that by 2022 the field will change so much as to not resemble what it had been back in 2017. Some of those disruptions are already in play. For example, at more public relations agencies there is a fusion of traditional public relations and marketing.
In his analysis of the Altman Weil study in Abovethelaw.com, James Goodnow fingers the need for firms to operate more like a business. Actually, this observation in itself is not new.
Way back when the Golden Age of law ended with The Great Recession, then head of Abovethelaw.com, David Lat noted the shift from law as a profession to law as a business.
What is new is Goodnow's insistence that non-attorneys should be parachuted in to create, implement, and oversee what models would ensure profitability. That has been happening in the UK. Also, Goodnow notes it's the way things are at LegalZoom, Axiom, and large accounting firms delivering legal services.
When the American Bar Association considered experimenting with non-attorney equity ownership, attorneys pushed back.
My new book on that, free to click open, could be a guideline on what the consciousness-raising has to focus on Download Over50OutsmartingYourComfortZone.
Resistance to change is not simply an institutional challenge in the legal sector. Every lawyer over-40 whom I have coached on an individual basis was in disbelief that they would have to change in order to make a good living - inside or outside law.
The cliché explanation is that they are socialized from the get-go at law school to be risk-averse. I don't agree.
Where I finger the problem to be is that the rewards had been huge for playing by the traditional rules. Their worldview of working is stuck on that kind of reward system. That, I have noticed, holds them back from experimenting with change within the law firm or pursuing other career options outside.
A real-life situation was the senior associate knocked out of the box before making partner. At the time he was earning $300k.
The marketplace, his age, and some shadow thrown on his personal branding were against his landing a comparable position in law. Yet, he kept with that goal.
An option would have been to return to the sales career track he had been in before deciding to enroll in law school. That would have only grossed him half his gross in law. Given his legal background, in time he might have been able to migrate into senior management at the corporation.
For lawyers considering breaking open to change, I offer a complimentary introductory coaching session. If they sense the chemistry is right and the service can be helpful, there is a sliding scale schedule of fees. Please set up an appointment at email@example.com.
Here is a backgrounder on the approach Download BACKGROUNDERJaneGenovaCoaching.