Greetings from Prosper, Texas. Nancy and I moved yesterday and are dodging boxes this morning.

If you are a Practice Group Leader or an Office Managing Partner, or if you are leading your firm, do you have a written plan on what you intend to do?

I remember a year when I billed more hours than any other year working on the NJ and Northeast EasyPass contract. After we finished that project I went to our firm leaders with my plan to lead my practice group.  I wrote a plan and gave it to firm leaders,  in part so I would actually do what I planned.

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I was looking at some documents on my server on leadership and I found what I presented to the firm leaders. It is 18 years old now, but just maybe some of my ideas at the time are still good ones today. Here it is.


  • Meet one-on-one with each of the lawyers in the Practice Group and get their career goals and objectives.
  • Establish credibility with each of the lawyers in the Practice Group. Determine what motivates them, ask what they are working on and how I can help them.
  • Reduce billable hours by 200 annually and develop plan on using the 200 hours for leadership of the Practice Group.
  • Identify roles, use weekly planners (guess it would be my computer/iPad/iPhone calendar today) to plan activities.
  • Establish performance criteria with members of the Practice Group. Get each member to agree on goals and an action plan.
  • Provide on-going feedback as I spot the need on performance and suggestions for improvement. Look at all of each person’s accomplishments, and express appreciation before raising the bar.
  • Meet with each member of the Practice Group to find out which work in the past year he or she found most rewarding and why. Also find out which career tracts would provide greatest satisfaction. Have them list three actions they can take in the short term.
  • Determine strengths, weaknesses, aspirations and fears of each member of the Practice Group. (Write them down and remember.)

I discovered that our law firm leaders talked a good game about the importance of Practice Group Leaders, but when it came to doing anything meaningful to encourage it or reward it, they didn’t.

I also discovered that my plan only worked with the lawyers in my group who wanted to create and be part of a great team. The naysayers thought the ideas didn’t apply to them. So, they refused to cooperate.

During a practice group retreat one time, two of the naysayers had a few drinks and were making fun of our practice group strategic plan. One looked at me and said in a loud voice:

Cordell, you are not a real lawyer. You are nothing but a salesman.

I guess he thought that would offend me. I actually laughed since he depended on me to provide him legal work.

If you take a close look at each of the bullet points, you likely will see how they apply to the coaching I am doing now. I have to say it is way more fun to coach lawyers who want to develop their client development skills than it was to lead lawyers who did not want to be led.