Our consultants support the strategy of our law firm clients with programs and coaching for partner development, associate development and leadership development. We also consult on lateral partner integration, both with existing teams integration and personal business development plans.
The transition to partnership brings a demand for new skills in management, client relations and business development. Yet many partners, while knowledgeable about their legal specialty, report that they have little formal training or experience in management and building business strategically. For laterals, they are looking for systems beyond IT, yet many firms leave them to sink or swim. In all these areas we demonstrate, and exceed, best practices in the legal industry.
Our programs in partner development include consultation to firms on new partner orientation, client service teams and legal project management. For many AmLaw 200 firms we also add to firm training programs by training partners in team leadership, delegation, supervision, feedback and evaluation skills. These programs are grounded in research in law firms. We know what associates expect of the best managers and we train to promote the adoption of best practices. All of our programs are highly interactive and use a law firm context, not a corporate training setting.
Several of our principals offer business development training and coaching. These programs always involve a partner commitment over several months. We offer a model for building relations with prospective clients, then winning business. Regular follow-up with participants is also a hallmark of these programs. Our satisfied clients tell us that this sustained approach to business development training consistently raises the skills and confidence of partners.
Associate development is a key part of law firm growth. It is acknowledged in the industry that the loss of an associate around year 3 costs a firm over $250,000. Associates in midlevel surveys regularly say that they are likely to stay at firms where they receive challenging work, get effective training and have regular feedback and credible evaluations. We help firms retain their best associates. We consult on associate competency maps, compensation geared to levels and improved evaluation systems. We offer training courses in management skills, team leadership, time management and legal project management. One our most popular offerings is directed at midlevel and senior associates – Managing Up, Down and Sideways. The course recognizes the significant responsibility assumed by associates in managing complex matters (usually with no prior experience). Our principals also train associates in business development, often in retreat settings.
We have a variety of approaches to leadership development. Our clients have been leaders in law firms from 100 to 1,800 members. We are sometimes asked to work with formal leaders in retreat settings – practice group leadership retreats are often added to a general firm retreat. Other programs target up-and-coming leaders and are supplemented by leadership coaching. A successful recent approach has been the year-long leadership development program. In these programs, selected leaders work with us and with internal experts to achieve some aspect of the firm’s strategy – perhaps in business development, client service or internal efficiency. They run supervised projects and work on key leadership skills. We measure the results and we have seen high degrees of achievement.
Coaching partners and leaders is connected to our consultation practices in strategy, business development and high performance. Law firms have a wide choice of coaches in the industry. But just as a football team is unlikely to hire a basketball coach, we find that our clients want coaches with a legal practice background and an understanding of the firm’s business environment. Our principals have that background. We are particularly active in business development coaching, usually as part of a broader engagement. We also offer coaching to address partner performance issues or to assist new leaders.
Lateral Integration is a challenge when new partners or entire acquired practices join a law firm. We consult to firms on two areas where success is essential: (1) integration of the people and practices, and (2) maximizing the new partners’ business development through cross-selling and “one firm” client development. Although most firms are in the market for strong laterals, the industry data tell us that more than 70% of these matches fail. Our lateral integration systems will help you avoid that result.
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"We invited a number of selected firms to propose on assisting us with our strategic planning. Initially we received 4 proposal, from Hildebrandt, McKinsey, Edge International, and The Zeughauser Group. We had a late entrant, from the Gallup Organization. At the end of the day, Edge presented the most compelling case for our selection. We think they are the hands down best choice because they have the insight, experience, and process to best support our efforts. Their clients have all confirmed that they bring considerable skill and experience to the event, think differently than other consultants, are very intuitive and adaptable, run good process, are very proactive, don't tell you what they think you want to hear, and deliver on their promises."