Should business people or lawyers head law firms?

I know your immediate response will be can’t a lawyer also be a business person? Or, isn’t a lawyer also a business person? Well…

The traditional model has been that a lifelong partner would not only be the name and face of the firm nut also be responsible for the growth and both short and long-term viability of the practice. As we are neck-deep into the “new normal,” greater attention is being paid to outside managers being brought in to run lawfirms, and to the establishment of a potential career path of Law firm CEO.

Gina Passarella in the Legal Intelligencer has an interesting article today where she speaks with Ward Bower of Altman Weil, and his impressions make for an interesting read.

Similarly, she identifies that in Philadelphia:

“The idea of bringing in an “outsider” for a leadership role in a law firm is far from unheard of. Pepper Hamilton hired Scott Green from WilmerHale, Stevens & Lee hired Temple University Health System Chairman Joseph “Chip” Marshall III as its vice chairman, DLA Piper hired former Linklaters leader Tony Angel as global co-chairman after he spent a few years at Standard & Poor’s, and Thomas A. “Tad” Decker joined Cozen O’Connor in 2000 as the firm’s managing partner after working in-house for several years.”

It should be noted that Scott Green is not an attorney, and while it is rare to see law firm leaders jumping from heading one firm to another, Ajay Raju, the former head of Reed Smith’s Philadelphia office and former leader of the firm’s business department, left to serve as CEO of Dilworth Paxson.

So, will we see Rock Star law firm CEO’s in the not-so-distant future? I firmly believe so…


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