Rainmakers into management- the conundrum

What happens when great rainmakers go into management? Law firms are faced with a dilemma

As promised at the end of my last article on succession planning and partner progression, we are going to explore what happens when great rainmakers go into management.

Law firms are faced with a dilemma- they want one of their most inspiring partners (invariably superb originators of work) to lead the firm. Management will take them away from clients. Junior partners want to step up but how does the newly minted leader bequeath their relationships – do they do a partial handover and risk the clients being in limbo, or a complete handover, and if so, how might they ever get back to client work? The same applies to those transitioning to departmental heads at the larger firms.

Many partners cannot go back to being just one of the lieutenants and have short uncomfortable spells in limbo before eventually moving firms. For some firms of a more cynical disposition this may be a blessing in disguise but what are the other workarounds for this? Either way, careful future planning can go a long way. Comments welcome on some of my suggested future post-management roles below;

1) Non-fee earning but business critical role- e.g. internal GC, innovation lead, ESG champion;

2) Non-fee earning ambassadorial role, e.g. international development;

3) Back to full time fee earning;

4) Straight to the golf course.

A sensible way forward? Firms are trying to manage this quandary by institutionalising clients with service teams for key anchor clients. However, this seems at odds with the Magic Circle trend away from lockstep to super pay to try to keep the stars. The plot thickens, it seems.

For more information, or to arrange a strictly confidential discussion about the market please contact Jason at Jason.mann@redlawrecruitment.com.

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