A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

Personal Reflections on 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

by Andrew Barnes, ALPMA President and Financial Controller, Lantern Legal Group

This time of year means many different things to many different people.  Many of us are ‘head down’ trying to leave our desks tidy before we take a few days of leave whilst others will not enjoy a break and their year-end urgency is dictated by others void of any festive cheer.  Wherever you sit on this spectrum, I hope this is a safe and enjoyable time for you.

I wrote recently in our December e-newsletter about another great year at ALPMA.  This time, I will reflect on some of the more personal aspects of the year with ALPMA.

1. The rewards of volunteering  

In my relatively short time with ALPMA I have seen many people come and go from our various committees, and I only see a small section from here in Victoria.  We experience annual angst when people resign a position and we worry about who might replace them, only to have new people coming forward to volunteer.  Some people even come back for a second or third tour of duty.  In addition to our interest in driving the interests of legal practice management professionals, the one thing I can confidently say that makes it worthwhile is the collegiality we have amongst our band of volunteers.  The personal connection assists us all professionally and whilst we invest time in contributing to the ALPMA cause, the reality is we all grow (and our firms benefit) from the experience.  I thank our volunteers again and encourage others to become involved.

2. Narrow does not equal small

This remains my favourite take away from our annual Summit, held in Melbourne back in August.  It was part of the fantastic presentation by Tim Williams.  Our firms seem to experience enormous pressure to be everything to everybody.  It is worth revisiting Tim’s presentation in the On Demand Learning Centre on our website.  Clarity in strategy, true differentiation and determining what you do not do all assist us in doing the important things excellently and not doing too many things adequately. 

In this mad year end rush it makes sense, doesn't it?

3. Progress

Some will argue I am not qualified to comment at this early stage, but I do so with the interests of law firm managers in mind.  I am unsure what will confront us with the roll out of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act.  For starters there are only two states signed on.  The first article I read was barely three pages of text yet had more than 60 footnotes.  Will this be buried in technical considerations such that the intent is lost?  The implementation and living in the reality of this will not be without challenges.  If we do not get this right, it might just remain a NSW/Vic exercise.

4. The Future  

In the face of the disruptors threatening to tip the profession and industry on its head across the world, have we stopped and asked ourselves what we are doing differently today to what we were doing 12 months ago?  What about five years ago?  If we are not doing anything differently, should we be?  

The threat of change means different things to people depending on where they are on their career lifecycle.  If the retirement horizon is near, the disruptors can wait.  If I am new in the game, the disruptors may forge my career.  In these disruptive challenges comes excitement for what it might mean for your firm, your peers and your profession.  Let’s not let this swamp us and leave us behind.  

In many different ways, and particularly for myself and my fellow Board members at ALPMA, we all have obligations to be stewards of the present for the benefit of the future.  

Let’s not permit our vested interests to deny us the opportunity to engage – it might be fun!

About our Guest Blogger

Andrew Barnes
Andrew Barnes is the Financial Controller of the Lantern Legal Group, incorporating the practices of Hardwood Andrews and Sladen Legal.

He was appointed ALPMA President in July, 2014, after serving as Vice President and Treasurer.  He is also an active member of the ALPMA Victorian Committee.  

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