‘Decisive’ leadership the winning ingredient for law firm success

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‘Decisive’ leadership the winning ingredient for law firm success

Leadership, winning ingredient, law firm, success

New data has identified decisive leadership as being the key competitive advantage among top performing law firms.

According to research by KBE Human Capital, NewLaw firms in particular are emerging as market leaders through their focus on being decisive leaders and willingness to go beyond norm.

“A raft of new law firms are rapidly emerging as market leaders – winning significant client relationships from their more traditional competitors and expanding into client markets once reserved for national/international firms,” said KBE’s Chris Bates.

“Each of the emerging firms has their own strategy and client engagement model, however KBE’s data shows one trend is clear – ‘new market leaders’ embrace strong, decisive leadership.

“It is an incredibly exciting time for the Australian legal industry, with change occurring at an unprecedented rate. Clients are increasingly sophisticated users of legal services, disruptive technologies are emerging, tiers have become less relevant, and flexible working arrangements are becoming the norm. In the current legal landscape, decisive leadership is a sustainable competitive advantage.”

Mr Bates noted the data derived from his company suggests that Australia’s fastest growing law firms have managing partners, Boards and CEOs who are not afraid of being challenged. They expect their lawyers to ask hard questions rather than simply accepting work practices that may no longer serve their clients or their teams, he said.


“Many of KBE’s fastest growing clients report that they consistently experiment with new ideas (and sometimes fail!), regularly and quickly change direction in response to client demands/market conditions, and actively look to hire people who are smarter than themselves,” Mr Bates added.

“Our data shows the ‘new market leaders’ have another important trait in common – their leadership teams are walking the walk when it comes to truly valuing people. They invest time and energy into leadership development, implement sustainable work practices, and facilitate holistic/soft skills training. These leadership teams also work hard to ensure their business strategy/KPI’s are geared towards building long-term win/win client relationships ahead of short-term profits.

“More fundamentally, Australia’s fastest growing firms embed change and improvement as part of their culture. They encourage their lawyers to bring new thinking to traditional legal problems.”

Mr Bates continued: “From a personal perspective, it is a privilege to see so many of our friends and colleagues achieving rapid success by challenging the status quo and taking new ideas to market”.

But it’s not all “beer and skittles”, he said, with firms who have slow-moving partnerships, boards and CEOs risking their long-term viability, particularly if they’re in the mindset of doing things “because that’s the way they have always done”.

“If KBE’s data is anything to go by, building a decisive leadership team should be front of mind for any firm hoping to outperform the market, and is set to be a key competitive advantage for many years to come,” Mr Bates concluded.

Emma Ryan

Emma Ryan

Emma Ryan is the deputy head of editorial at Momentum Media and editor of its legal publication, Lawyers Weekly. 

She graduated from Charles Sturt University with a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism).

Email Emma on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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