Survey data we collected at the 2010 Managing Partner Forum - where firms ranged in size from 10-300 lawyers, with 62% in the 10-50 lawyer range - provides the following information:
What percentage of your time do you spend in your role as Managing Partner? Answer
- 17% said it was full-time role.
- 21% said they spend more than 50% of their time in the role.
- 19% said they spend 26-50% of their time in the role.
- 38% said they spend 10-25% of their time in the role.
- 6% said they spend less than 10% of their time in the role.
I was having this very conversation last night with my friend David Constantine, former President of the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA). David's a sharp guy and thinks a lot about law firm management stuff.
I asked him at what firm size he believes the role of Managing Partner becomes full-time. He came up with 300 lawyers. A high number, I thought to myself. At that firm size, it's "almost impossible not to be a full-time CEO," said David. At 25 lawyers, David says the MP should spend no more than a few hours a week in the role. Of course, David assumes that a very competent and trusted COO is on the scene.
By contrast, the Managing Partner at one of my clients - a 45-lawyer firm with one office location - estimates that he invests about 90% of his time in the role.
So just how much time should a Managing Partner spend in the role?
As a general rule, I think that at 100 lawyers, a law firm should consider having a full-time Managing Partner. At 50-75 lawyers, about 50% of the MP's time should be dedicated to management. At 25-50 lawyers, 25% seems about right.
Clearly, there is no right or wrong answer to this important question. It's all over the map...and depends on a myriad of factors.