The idea of a law firm filled with only the most esteemed licensed attorneys seems good on paper, but the reality can be problematic. A company in which everyone has similar strengths and comes from the same educational background is a company that won’t be very skilled at identifying weakness or inefficiency in its operations. For a lot of firms, the answer is in diversifying the license status of the people they employ.

While recognizing partners are the ultimate authority regarding firm management, many firms use non-lawyers to analyze and execute plans relating to operations. Having operations and other business departments populated with people of different backgrounds and qualifications could increase your firm’s ability to improve and refine its processes and output. Where inefficiencies exist, these non-laywer teams develop a comprehensive understanding of “what’s wrong” as the first step in developing solutions to firm-wide problems. 

This strategy was a central point of discussion at the Summit on Law and Innovation session “Leading Lawyers without a License,” where the panellists suggested that the most innovative firms are the ones which combine legal prowess with operational and technological expertise in decision-making and strategy.

A law firm should be made up largely of lawyers, but those lawyers don’t need to be the ones assessing the firm’s efficiency and implementing operational changes. There are team members better suited to those tasks. Let your lawyers practice law, and let other team members work alongside the attorneys to improve the firm’s effectiveness and ultimately its success. Change management and being able to work with cross-functional teams is essential for advancement in today’s market. 

Neal Sessions
An Atlanta native, Neal Sessions’ expertise and achievements span the fields of real estate, accounting, financial planning, financial operations, risk assessment, regulatory compliance, and legal matters. Neal’s academic background in economics (B.A., Emory University), finance (M.B.A., Emory University Goizueta Business School) and law (J.D., Georgia State University College of Law) led to career successes with The Coca-Cola Company and SunTrust Banks, Inc. Moreover, Neal is a member in good standing of the State Bar of Georgia and a Certified Public Accountant. Neal attributes his business successes to his principled focus on developing thoughtful and pragmatic business strategies and his track record of delivering meaningful, measurable, and achievable results aligned with these strategies.