ROLES FOR PROFESSIONAL FIRM SENIOR PARTNERS TRANSITIONING THEIR PRACTICES
When senior professionals who are used to being in charge must make way for new leadership, they may be able to stay productive in valuable new roles for the firm.
Here are some that have been developed at our client firms or that we know of, or we suggest:
* Chief Learning Officer (professional development)
* Chief Diversity Officer
* Administrative Partner for a practice group
* Hiring Partner responsible for lateral recruiting and integration
* Chief Business Development Officer (to work with the Marketing Department and be able to meet with prospective clients as a firm “partner”)
* Pro Bono Director (partner level)
Of course, the partners need to be willing to adjust their compensation, but they should be able to cut back hours - a flexibility bonus.
Obviously, in the case of many of these, a firm can only utilize one person in the position. A firm could have several administrative partners (non-equity) and project managers for practice groups and attorneys whose function is business development leads and client relationship management without performing billable work or being a major business generator.
Firms (desperately) need more mentoring, training and coaching for associates and junior partners. It is often not being done diligently and frequently because attorneys are not compensated for these functions and often not even given non-financial rewards, including much praise. Even people who don’t need the money want to feel valued. That is a big issue we find with our clients. Not feeling valued is often more of a source of resentment and poor morale than reduced or lack of financial compensation among transitioning partners.
So, one of our transitioning principles and recommendations is compensation during the transitioning process - compensation at the attorney’s highest level, but rather a figure sufficient to provide an incentive and security for doing transitioning right and helping the heirs apparent and the firm. Firm support of a transitioning process will take away potential stigmas and convey that the individual is valued and is continuing to contribute to the firm.
Transitioning partners also need to develop some excitement for what they can do work-wise after they leave the firm, should they want to keep working - and many Boomers will, in some capacity. So some transitioners will decide they have attractive options and not want to hang on.
(c) Phyllis Weiss Haserot www.pdcounsel.com
Note: This blog is an excerpt from the 2014 edition of The Rainmaking Machine by Phyllis Weiss Haserot (Thomson Reuters/Westlaw) to be published summer 2014.