Edge International

Making Informed Decisions, Taking Practical Steps

Karen MacKay

How do you plan for the firm’s future? What process will achieve greatest results? What resources do you need to make informed decisions? How do you create change? How do you get buy-in within the partnership? And, how do you get all aspects of the firm aligned so that you can move the firm towards success in achieving its goals?


In the twenty years this author spent in senior management roles within law firms, the planning process varied from non-existent to a critical part of the firm’s culture. The planning process has a greater chance of success if it fits the leadership model.

In a strong-leader model a top-down approach fits the culture. In this model the chair and the executive takes on the task, charts the firm’s course and then communicates the vision, the strategic goals and the plans underway to execute on those goals.

In firms that have a strong consensus model, buy-in is critical. These firms may have more success with a bottom-up planning process. This planning process begins at the grassroots with practice groups, industry groups and offices working through a planning process that involves a much wider group of partners. Leadership provides a framework so that the work of all groups will ultimately fit into a plan for the firm. This may fit a consensus culture and have a better chance of success where partners have a hand in mapping out their future.

Building the Perfect Client Service Firm — From Scratch

Karen MacKay

What fun! The perfect client service firm! Is it possible?

Individuals in private practice have said, “I know there is a better way to serve clients — a better way to practice. If I had the courage, I’d start my own firm and it would be different.” Law firms have started greenfield operations — practice groups with entirely new business models with mixed success — primarily because these new business models are overlaid with old accounting models and old reward systems.

An article like this presents the writer and the reader with both the opportunity to reflect, as well as the opportunity to dream about the art of the possible.

Stepping up to this challenge there is “so much to do, so little time.” What sort of leader would be in place? How would future leaders be developed and retained? How could we deliver service profitably in ways valued by clients? How would we use technology to collaborate and to anticipate clients’ needs? What about culture — how could we create the desired culture and then build the components toward that desired end state? How would we differentiate this perfect firm from its competitors, in the eyes of both talent and clients, for whom we all compete?

Intuition: How Leaders Use Their Bias to Evaluate Situations

Karen MacKay