Tim Corcoran’s and Jordan Furlong’s recent posts on the potential obsolescence of law firms - alongside the news about the downfall of Hurd from HP got me thinking.
Corcoran made a distinct point about the risk to law firms that brought this concept together in my mind, “[B]ut are law firm leaders listening? The point being - are law firm leaders in tune with what’s going on? Based on my observations – I believe they are or are headed that way. The follow up question becomes: What are they doing about it?
The short answer: more of the same – only with more intensity.
What law firms really need is a Mark Hurd (minus the sex issues) as a Managing Partner (MP). Hurd went into HP, cut the bloat, restructured for efficiency, cut away poor performing and non-core business units and drove HP to profitability. He's the classic turn-around guy.
So even though law firms are seeing the future, they don’t have these kinds of skills to adapt to it.
They need a Mark Hurd to come in, kick butt and move on. At first as I contemplated this need, I envisioned firms switching to MPs with this skill-set, but I think that’s a show-stopper. Existing partners will be VERY reluctant to take any action that might hurt or offend another partner. Firms need someone not carrying this kind of baggage to effect such radical change.
Absent this type of radical leadership change, I fear Jordan and Ron are right. Firms will focus on moving the deck chairs around more efficiently, but avoid the hard decisions. It’s not that they don’t want to. It’s decades of culture holding them back.