Top Ten Mistakes Practice Group Leaders Make

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1. Taking the job without really understanding it

Too often practice group leaders take on the role without having a clear, specific job description.  Don’t buy in to the idea that ‘everyone knows what the job is’ – ask firm leaders to articulate their expectations and put it in writing.

2. Not spending the time

The practice group leader job should be as important to you as managing a client relationship.  You need to invest an appropriate amount of time if you want to be highly effective.

3. Trying to do it all yourself

Delegate some tasks and projects to your very able colleagues.  Learn about and use the staff and technology resources available to you.  If you would benefit from some training, ask for it.

4. Failing to plan

Your group plan doesn’t need to be perfect – but every group needs a short list of priorities and action items to guide them or nothing will get done.

5. Getting caught up in administrative tasks

As a group leader, your focus should be on clients, strategy, growth, pricing, profitability and the like.  Concentrate on strategic issues that will move the group forward and delegate administrative tasks.

6. Ignoring market forces

An important part of the group leader’s job is to stay abreast of developments in the profession.  Maintain a long-term outlook and regularly discuss key trends with your colleagues to help the group become more forward-looking.

7. Forgetting to collaborate

Other group leaders are your greatest resource.  Ask for tips from your predecessor. Periodically attend other groups’ meetings. Share ideas and experience with all group leaders in the firm.

8. Neglecting relationships

Good leadership requires effective relationships.  Don’t forget the importance of regular face time with your colleagues.  You can’t lead people you don’t really know and expect them to follow.

9. Holding ineffective group meetings

There is often little thought or preparation put into practice group meetings – and it shows.  Create a short agenda for each meeting, actively keep discussions on track, make decisions, agree on next steps including responsibilities and deadlines, and insist on accountability.

10. Proceeding without feedback

Group leaders need feedback on priorities and job performance from senior leadership. Regular check-ins with firm leaders should be part of your routine.



Thomas S. Clay and Eric Seeger are principals of legal management consultancy, Altman Weil, Inc.  Both are experts and thought-leaders on the critical issues of practice group strategy and leadership. 

 

 

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