Monday, January 26, 2009

A cautionary tale about law firm economics

Today's Wall Street Journal has a front page article on the economic pressures facing law firms (here), with a particular focus on Heller Ehrman's demise.

I knew many of the folks at Heller, having been a summer clerk there in the mid-1980s. The folks whom I knew were bright, talented, and dedicated, but clearly those attributes aren't enough to manage large businesses in tricky economic times. Some preliminary lessons for those choosing managers (whether those managers are for private firms, government, or academia):

1. Just because someone is great at his or her current job doesn't mean that that person is going to be good as a manager. Management has its own skill sets, and although it certainly can be learned, people often forget that being good at one set of skills doesn't automatically translate to other sets of skills.

2. Don't go only for those with glossy resumes. Sometimes the best person for the job isn't the person with the most elite background.

3. Test-drive the person by seeing how he or she has handled issues of management strategy in the past.

4. Managers aren't omniscient. Cut them slack. They'll make mistakes, and sometimes their failures are beyond their control. Don't assume that you have the same type or amount of knowledge that the managers have, and don't assume that the managers are at liberty to share with you all that they know.

1 comment:

workhard said...

THose are some good tips

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