Who is running your firm?

That’s the question corporate governance consultant Irene Seiferling asks in a recent Canadian Lawyer column.

As she makes clear, the changing times don’t necessarily lend themselves to traditional firm models rooted in the assumption that the owners/partners are the optimal managers:

As law firms grow in size and complexity, traditional hands-on management and partner-dominated decision-making are no longer practical. Law firms are being redefined by technology and challenged by increasing competition for clients and talent. To succeed, firms must be efficient, effective and strategic in their leadership, decision-making, and business operations. Law firms must re-examine their systems of governance.


Governance is about the firm’s structure, roles, and responsibilities. Who is making and delegating which decisions, and how do these decisions impact the partners, the firm as a whole and the running of the business? Governance is about strategy, actively planning for long-term success. It is also about the firm’s culture — how the firm positions and treats its people and its clients.