Law Firm Adds Business Training for Employees Turning Partner

by RaeAnne Marsh

Briefs_0414_LawFirmRunning a business requires a broader view and skill set than just working for it. This is why a few of the newly named directors at the Phoenix office of Fennemore Craig decided to do something to better qualify themselves for their decision-making role as shareholders of the law firm.

“We go from law school to practicing law. There’s no business education. Yet when we become partner, we’re expected to know how a business works,” says Chris Gooch, one of the Gen X/Yers who spearheaded Fennemore Craig’s innovative Director’s School. What started as informal conversation over lunch among a few of the younger, newer directors of the law firm has become a formalized educational program with the enthusiastic support of the firm’s management committee. The curriculum, taught by senior partners, includes how a firm of its size puts together a budget, the ability to generate new business and create client-development opportunities, and understanding the different roles of leadership. Video conferencing carries the program to attorneys in all six of the firm’s offices.

Gooch, who believes the program reflects the trait of Gens X and Y to be more collaborative, observes that the younger partners are coming into leadership of the multi-million-dollar business as the Baby Boomers prepare for retirement. The Director’s School helps the firm better secure its future because, instead of simply voting with the crowd, “We will understand better the impact of decisions on the operation and financial performance of the firm.”

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