Like it or not, today we have to deal with the fact that the market – even the legal one – is made by customers. Customers "demand" efficiency and innovation at lower price levels than they were used to over the past few years. Their need is to cope with heavy budget pressures and, as a result, they can no longer afford the luxury of being tied to a lawyer or a particular firm.
Studies, on the other hand, can no longer rely on constant increases in profitability with which to finance their growth. A fierce competition, also fueled by the many spin-offs we have witnessed recently, characterized in many cases by a more streamlined cost structure, pushes to grab the most interesting tasks or, more trivially, any type of task. In a market characterized by strong competition and low growth rates, the requirements that are required by law firm partners have widened to the point that many law firms are trying to clarify or redefine the obligations of partnerships in the light of changes context conditions. What do you need today to become a salary partner? To become an equity partner? And to remain an equity partner?
Clearly defining what is expected of each partner in order to determine whether they meet certain requirements and expectations or disregard them is critical to the success of each law firm. The realities that do not take into account this important aspect risk, among others, a decrease in competitiveness, disaffection on the part of the best professionals and a creeping dissent that can lead to breakdowns in the partnership that, if not preempted, in some cases have the fatal consequence of the dissolution of the study itself.
BEHAVIOR BY "ENTREPRENEUR"
Very often in law firms there is not enough professionals to act as real entrepreneurs. Mind you: acting like an entrepreneur does not simply mean being a good rain maker. Although the ability to generate business is an undeniable economic imperative, the same should not be the only aspect that is remunerated and that requires an equity partner. In fact, every equity partner can contribute in a variety of ways to the good performance of a law firm. It will divide the risk of the study's progress as well as the profits that will derive from it; invest time (not always billable) and resources in management; will be responsible for supporting the values of the study and will be committed to the organization so that it is natural for the other partners to do the same.
Being an entrepreneur also means not being satisfied with a minimum study performance but rather setting ambitious goals and working to ensure that everyone achieves them.
In addition to this, another worrying dynamic has made its way into the partnership of some law firms: mediocrity or in any case the orientation towards the "minimum union". Despite the crisis, the revenues of most of the studies have not been undermined to the point that they no longer take into account any kind of investment in value-creating activities and therefore partners should feel empowered to do so. But, evidently, most of the lawyers of prestigious institutions (and others) continue to earn a lot and therefore are not motivated to do what it would take to settle on even higher levels of income. This type of attitude is at the root of a crisis of motivation and identity of many studies and, most likely, it will end up making these realities less competitive than those in which the partners are more active from the point of view of the performance and commitment they devote to the structure. Furthermore, as a general principle, it is rather difficult for lawyers who obtain the best results and generate the largest slice of turnover within a firm to live with those who do not have the same pace. In the long run the latter will have to leave or the risk is that the best ones will leave. it is rather difficult that lawyers who obtain the best results and generate the largest slice of turnover within a study can live together with those who do not have the same pace. In the long run the latter will have to leave or the risk is that the best ones will leave. it is rather difficult that lawyers who obtain the best results and generate the largest slice of turnover within a study can live together with those who do not have the same pace. In the long run the latter will have to leave or the risk is that the best ones will leave.
If in the past the dichotomy between the lawyers who procured the tasks and the lawyers who, more limited, limited themselves to working on the assigned tasks, could work, now this state of affairs no longer works. Any lawyer who aspires to become an equity partner will have to engage first hand in the areas of business development and customer management, in the organization of the study and, not least, in the sensitive area of human resources management.
WHAT ARE THE OBLIGATIONS OF A PARTNER?
What is required of the partners of a study so that their professional reality not only continues to operate but, hopefully, develops?
As we have already said on many occasions, each partner will have to worry about providing services that live up to the expectations of their customers, to provide new business by contributing to the profitability of the study and to reinforce the values of the same, taking care to always be consistent with these values.