Definitely Mabey

Seven New Year's Resolutions for Law Firms

Making New Year resolutions is one thing. Remaining resolute and seeing them through is quite another. - Alex Morritt, Impromptu Scribe.

Stephen Mabey Author

A simplistic but functional definition of culture is the way that:

  • People relate to each other (consistency);
  • People relate to the firm (mission);
  • The firm adapts to its environment (adaptability); and,
  • How work gets done (involvement).

The year 2016 was successful for a diminishing number of firms, and a year of frustration and falling behind for many others. The reason for much of the diminishing returns in the legal profession is predominately the “culture” that is institutionalized in most firms.

Historically once the culture has been subscribed to there is little interest in embracing change. This “stonewalling” is resulting in the failure by firms to achieve their potential and, dare I say, the prolonged erosion of confidence in private practice (as evidenced by the departure of a frightening number of Millennials).

If firms are to flourish in 2017, they have to take a hard look at their culture and make sure it is one that fully supports execution and not complacency.

Below are seven New Year's resolutions that law firms need to make regarding their culture to be well served by it in 2017 and beyond. This will not be an easy endeavour, and the challenge for many is “the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed”.1

  1. Manage the business aspects of the firm's practice in a businesslike manner — The 2013 Report on the State of the Legal Market a joint production by The Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at the Georgetown University Law Center and Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor concluded:
    Plainly, to be successful in today's world, most every firm of any significant size must respond to the changing competitive realities of the market by centralizing many of the decisions previously made in more collegial ways and by embracing a consistent strategic vision that is uniform across the firm and that drives decisions and actions in all of its practice areas. At the same time, a firm must preserve the essential qualities that nourish and support great lawyering, including structures that preserve the independence of professional judgment and the autonomy of lawyers to act in the best interest of their clients”.
    Obviously, the key is finding the right balance for your firm. This can only be done if the partnership and managed business proponents in a firm:

    The rest of this article is available in Stephen Mabey's new Book

    Book Cover - Leading and Managing a Sustainable Law Firm - Tactics & Strategies for a Rapidly Changing Profession by Stephen Mabey

    Available for purchase on BookBaby.




1 Cavett Robert
2 Smashing Magazine, Jeremy Girard, January 2012
3 Vern McLellan



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