Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What's in a Name?

Law Firms Use a Wide (and Sometimes Quirky) Array of Titles for Their Leaders

Over the years, we have built quite a large database of law firm leaders. Today, it includes over 5,300 contacts from 47 US states and 27 foreign countries. We make it point to learn and include their titles whenever we can.

I was reviewing the list the other day and found no fewer than 18 titles for the position most often referred to as "managing partner." I've listed them below in order of popularity:
  • Managing Partner (#1, by far)

  • Managing Shareholder (a very distant #2)

  • Other Variations of "Managing" including Director, Principal or Member

  • Chief Executive Officer/CEO

  • Chairman (and variations thereof)

  • Chairman of the Executive Committee

  • Chairman of the Management Committee

  • Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

  • President

  • CEO and President

  • Partner-in-Charge

  • Principal Shareholder

  • Administrative Partner

  • Executive Vice President

  • Founding Partner

  • Owner

In addition, my friend and colleague Patrick McKenna has identified a few more, including Presiding Partner, Presiding Member and Executive Partner.

Some titles are pretty straight forward. Others are somewhat unconventional, even quirky. Personally, I like CEO.

But whatever title a law firm bestows upon its leader, I'm willing to bet that most partners in most law firms haven't a clue about the amount of time and effort required of this most important and demanding role.

Managing partners would be wise to educate them.

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