Leadership in Law Practices

Leadership in a law practice does not rely on education, titles, job responsibilities, the ability to exert power, or seniority. Great leaders can emerge at any level in a law practice. Although, there are thousands of recommended qualities that make a good leader; to find your firm’s leader look for that one individual who possesses astounding social intelligence, a gusto for change, and above all, the ability to set his or her focus on the things that merit attention.

Law Practice LeadershipTHE LEADER OF A PRACTICE

Attorneys are required to set the goals for the legal matters handled by the practice, but that does not necessarily make them the leaders. Leaders in law practices have special qualities that often outshine the mental legal work of the attorneys.

It’s the job of leaders to develop, cultivate, and nurture goals — establish what matters, articulate why it’s important, and inspire others to want to help him or her reach and achieve the desired outcome.  Great law practice leaders nurture and spark positivity and a desire in those with whom he or she collaborates with to strive to achieve the goal of the legal matter.


  1. Speak up and contribute. Knowing when it’s time to speak up and share constructive thoughts, ideas, and solutions, which contribute to the overall success of the law practice and its cases, using empathy, social insight, tact, diplomacy, and positive persuasiveness. This can be as simple as asking questions and searching for solutions aimed at reducing the law practice’s most vexing productivity problems.
  2. Give honest feedback. It is knowing when it’s time to give honest feedback to co-workers, clients, and vendors: not just any old honest feedback – but constructive, honest feedback.  In a law practice, this required the leader to use other leadership skills, such as anticipating how others will react to the feedback and already have an action plan to minimize any negative impact or reaction.
  3. Anticipating reactions of others and preparing to minimize the negative impact. The skill of predicting the reactions of others and preparing alternatives to help reduce the negative impact is a muscle. This skill must be exercised to remain effective.

How to exercise the ability to predict the reactions of co-workers?


  • Observe how they speak when spoken to;
  • Observe their facial expressions while on the phone; and
  • Observe how often they express gratitude, negativity, and happy thoughts.

Use the observations to develop positive, upbeat responses to their negative Nelly attitude.  This may not clean your space, but it will help you exercise how to read people. The better a leader is at reading their co-worker’s gloom and doom responses, the faster the leader can become at facilitating positive responses.  Being able to respond with a positive thought quickly, the easier it is to rally the team to do what needs to be done.

Being a leader does not always mean you are the boss, owner, or the lawyer.  Paralegals, file clerks, appointment setters, and administrative assistants can emerge as the leader of your law practice.  Look for the person who – shines when it rains, sings when there is no music and emails like it will be read in a deposition one day.

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