Edge International


Avoiding Pitfalls in the Practice Group Structure

The popularity of the practice group — an entity within the firm dedicated to practicing a specific kind of law, or serving a specific industry — seems well grounded, in that it offers a number of advantages to managing a practice and its services. But with all its advantages, there exists an easy propensity to misuse the practice group concept, even as it strives to serve the firm’s objectives.

The evolution of the practice group as a management tool is, on its face, logical. It meets the need to direct and focus the specific skills inherent in each practice. And as the concept evolves and grows in popularity, its advantages continue to emerge as significant, overwhelming any possible disadvantages. But if its potential is to be fully achieved, experience warns that the possible downside should be anticipated as well.

Certainly, cautions should be observed.

The advantages of the practice group to both the firm and its clients are clear.

For the growing firm, it seems an easier and better way to go. But as with any good idea, there is a potential for a downside as well. Emerging experience shows that.

How can these pitfalls be avoided, without losing the advantages of the practice group concept? These guidelines can help:

The decision to organize a firm into practice groups, then, requires thoughtfulness that takes it beyond a fad. The alternative, of course, is to focus on a full service concept, and certainly, with or without the practice group structure the client should see the firm as a full service firm. But given the advantages of the practice group, and with full awareness of the possible downside, the practice group may be the better way to go.

Gerry Riskin

specializes in counseling law firm leaders on issues relating to the evolution of the structure and management of their law firms and the architecture of competitive strategies.  He has served hundreds of law firm clients around the globe from small boutiques to mega firms including working with the largest law firms in the world.  Gerry is still a Canadian but has resided on the Caribbean Island of Anguilla, British West Indies for more than 25 years.

Email Gerry at [email protected] or text or call him at +1 (202) 957-6717