Effective Leadership in Law Firms


Our law firm is obsessed with building and maintaining a positive workplace culture. Historically, law firms aren’t always known for this, but we are on a mission to prove that law firms can have a great culture if they are committed to it. We’ve learned over the years that building a strong culture is hard, and sometimes maintaining it as the firm grows is even harder. As we continue on this journey, we’ve discovered one key factor that must always be present in order to succeed at having a great culture – effective leadership.

How do you establish effective leadership in a law firm?

Like most companies, strong individual contributors at law firms become managers and leaders over time, mostly due to their strong performance as individuals, not necessarily because of their leadership skills. They soon find themselves in a leadership role where they are responsible for the performance of others and for reinforcing the firm’s culture, often without any training in these areas. According to Gallup estimates, approximately one out of ten managers have the natural capacity to excel in that role, while possibly another two of the ten can be effective with some coaching and training. What this means is that the remaining 7 out of 10 managers are going to struggle to be effective.

In Don Rheem’s book, Thrive by Design, he deep dives into the relationship that leaders have on positive workplace culture, and he suggests that effective leadership is a major factor. Rheem discusses how it’s the job of leaders to maintain an environment where employees feel safe and secure, which then leads to a positive, high-performance culture. Providing timely and appropriate feedback, validation and recognition, and clear purpose and direction, are just some of the many elements that Rheem suggests leaders are responsible for. In a recent employee engagement survey at our firm, we discovered that while our leaders provide and show general recognition and appreciation to our employees, we could improve on providing real-time, more project-specific feedback – both positive and negative. It’s something our leaders are committed to getting better at, and it started with a new awareness of a performance gap we have in being effective leaders. In acknowledging our areas for improvement, our firm shows commitment to its staff and culture in improving all performances, not just the leaders.

The Culture Counts blog is a discussion of law firm culture and legal innovation, including topics such as effective leadership, employee engagement, workplace culture, ideal work environment, company core values, and workplace productivity.  

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About the Firm:

Klemchuk LLP is a litigation, intellectual property, transactional, and international business law firm dedicated to protecting innovation. The firm provides tailored legal solutions to industries including software, technology, retail, real estate, consumer goods, ecommerce, telecommunications, restaurant, energy, media, and professional services. The firm focuses on serving mid-market companies seeking long-term, value-added relationships with a law firm. Learn more about experiencing law practiced differently and our local counsel practice.

The firm publishes Intellectual Property Trends (latest developments in IP law), Conversations with Innovators (interviews with thought leaders), Leaders in Law (insights from law leaders), Culture Counts (thoughts on law firm culture and business), and Legal Insights (in-depth analysis of IP, litigation, and transactional law).