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AUTEUR : Patrick Bignon

DATE : 23 January 2017

Restoring confidence between management and the Partners …

Restoring confidence between management and the Partners …

From observing the multitude of crises that have taken place in many law firms, I have noted more and more frequently over the last few years – for those who know them – misunderstanding or even open criticism by the partners of those in charge of managing their firm.

The race for profitability – the desired goal in a difficult, increasingly competitive market – and the constant quest for operational efficiency often lead those in charge of management to:

  • Too much quantification, to the detriment of quality and sharing;
  • Measuring and comparing individual performances rather than encouraging teamwork;
  • Processing to the point of stopping the fluidity of information;
  • Formalising to the point of discouraging any initiative outside the formal framework.


There are numerous examples:

  • Too many controls;
  • Too much reporting;
  • Too stringent sanctions;


For the partners, their rejection of this type of management leads to a lack of discipline faced with cumbersome organisations and excessive procedural constraints with numerous problems being observed, such as, for example:

  • Strong individualism and resurgence of the principle of “everyone for himself”;
  • More frequent absenteeism at meetings;
  • Late answers to requests;
  • Systematic denigration of those in management positions.


This is why it is now time, in many firms, to restore confidence between those in charge of their management and the partners.

When management is too often built on defiance and making sure that lawyers do exactly what is expected of them, it without doubt limits value creation in a lot of firms at a time when they have to cope with a transforming market in which the ability to take initiative is essential.


Beyond the rejection of what they see as overattentiveness to the financial aspects, which often causes anxiety among the partners and creates a bad atmosphere in law firms, this lack of confidence in one another in fact reveals:

  • A problem of leadership:
  • With a lack of clarity by management in “saying what they are going to do”;
  • And also actions or decisions that do not fit in with “doing what they say”;
  • A lack of a vision/project enabling the firm to mobilise and federate the partners;
  • A problem of efficiency in the organisation set up with insufficient clarity of the respective roles and of the allocation of responsibilities;
  • Finally, clearly, a problem of interpersonal relationships between the partners with the need to improve communication in order to bring down the barriers and boost collective thinking.