When should your law firm start thinking about hiring a full-time non-lawyer CEO to run your business?

The answer is highly specific to the firm, its location, and its practice areas. However, in our experience advising law firms about this issue, we have observed four indictors that it is time to give serious consideration to hiring a non-lawyer CEO.

 Here are the signs that your firm might be ready to take this step:

  • You have more than 10 partners or more than 50 lawyers.
  • Day-to-day management issues require more than 40% of the managing partner's time.
  • Equity partners spend an average of more than 10% of their time directly supervising administrative and clerical staff (other than their own secretaries).
  • The cost of hiring a competent, experienced, non-lawyer CEO would be less than 80% of the total value of partner time spent on day-to-day management and administrative issues.

There are no universal answers, but any of these indicators suggest that it is time to start thinking seriously about whether and when to hire a non-lawyer CEO to run your business, so that partners can devote more of their time practicing law and engaging in higher value activities.

Norman Clark