Leading in law firms is nothing like "herding cats."
Lawyers and law firms might pose special challenges to leadership, but these challenges are no greater than those posed by the special characteristics of other professions such as engineering and accounting.
It has nothing to do with "cats."
It has everything to do with unskilled leaders. Lawyers can be good leaders and good followers, if they choose to be.
A consideration of leadership has produced some unfortunate mythology for law firms. There is a widely-held assumption that lawyers, by nature, are not good leaders or followers -- that they are too impatient or too individualistic or too egotistical to lead others or to respond to leadership.
This urban legend, fueled by unskilled leadership and junk science, can wrongly influence law firms to overlook or dismiss the leadership potential that everyone possesses.
Every partner in a law firm needs to be ready and able to exercise a leadership role when the need arises.
Teaching "New Tricks" to "Old Cats" is a short paper that outlines the Walker Clark approach to leadership in law firms. Our experience working with law firms in different cultures all over the world demonstrates that leadership is a set of observable skills that anyone can master.
Lisa Walker Johnson