What is a Law Firm Managing Partner (Role, Salary, etc.)

What is a Law Firm Managing Partner (Role, Salary, etc.)

Saad Ali
Written by Saad Ali
September 6, 2023

Becoming a law firm’s managing partner is the ultimate dream and aspiration for most lawyers.

It is considered the highest position in the legal hierarchy.

However, it is also one of the most challenging titles to attain.

But what exactly is a managing partner?

What are their responsibilities, and how can one become a managing partner?

This blog will uncover everything you need to know about law firm managing partners

What Is a Managing Partner in a Firm?

A managing partner in a law firm has a prominent leadership role.

They are usually considered the highest in the law firm hierarchy and are responsible for things like overall operation, administration, and strategic thinking for the firm.

The managing partner role is common in law, accounting, investment, and consulting firms.

The managing partner also has a lot of experience in being a lawyer, and they are either elected or appointed by the board of directors.

Being in such a high position, they play an important role in shaping the firm’s culture, setting goals, and making key decisions that can potentially make or break the law firm.

The managing partner also has a huge role in making decisions on a firm’s basis.

Therefore, whenever a new goal is set or a firm is planning for its future, you can expect the managing partner to be deeply involved.

Managing partners assume various roles, encompassing financial management, profitability analysis, and optimizing resource utilization.

Let’s delve into their responsibilities and explore why they are integral to a law firm.

What Is the Role of a Managing Partner?

Managing partners are responsible for leadership roles.

However, they also need to take care of the overall well-being of a law firm.

Here are some of the responsibilities and roles that a managing partner has:

  • Strategic Thinking: Being the leader of a law firm, strategic thinking is one of the most important responsibilities of a law firm managing partner. They work closely with other partners and firm leaders to develop long-term plans, get goals moving, and follow the objectives that they have.
  • Operations Management: Managing partners oversee the day-to-day operations of the firm. This includes managing finances, budgeting, financial planning, and resource allocation and utilization. They monitor the firm’s performance, identify areas for improvement, and make strategic decisions to enhance efficiency and profitability.
  • Human Resource Management: Managing partners manage and develop the firm’s human resources. They oversee the recruitment and hiring of talented professionals, mentor junior staff, and foster a positive work environment. They may also participate in performance management, training, and professional development initiatives.
  • Risk Management: Risk management is one of the trickiest jobs, and managing partners must also oversee that. They need to ensure compliance with legal and ethical obligations and make new policies to mitigate risks so the law firm can move quickly and efficiently.

To summarize, a managing partner’s roles incorporate leadership, strategic thinking, planning, client relations, human resource management, risk management, and more. They are the driving force behind a firm’s growth and are known to be the backbone of a law firm.

What Is the Difference Between a Managing Partner and a CEO?

While both terms are used interchangeably, there are some differences, too. The term managing direction is used more in limited liability partnership companies, while CEO is used in a corporation. A managing partner also has some skin in the game as they own the law firm, while a CEO may or may not be the owner.

Another big difference between the roles is that a managing partner usually reports all the progress to other managing partners, while a CEO reports to the board of directors. A managing partner’s responsibilities are much tougher than a CEO’s since they have to be involved in strategic thinking and ensure the day-to-day tasks go smoothly.

Moreover, it is possible for a firm to have both managing partners and a CEO, and it is done in many big law firms where the managing partner oversees day-to-day operations. At the same time, the CEO focuses on strategic thinking and the company’s future.

In conclusion, both titles’ specific roles and responsibilities vary from organization to organization. There’s not a single set rule that managing partners or CEOs have to follow. It depends on the company’s size, structure, culture, and goals.

How to Become a Managing Partner Law Firm?

To become a managing partner in a law firm, you must be ready to work hard. Below, we’ve compiled a list of steps you must follow to get to the top of the law world:

Get a Law Degree: The most important step is to aim for a law degree and earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. You should also take into consideration your country and what are the requirements there.

Become an Associate: After you finish law school, the best thing to put you close to becoming a managing partner would be gaining experience as an associate at a law firm. This experience will enable you to get the gist of the legal profession and develop your skills to the fullest.

Specialization: Most lawyers tend not to niche down. However, once you specialize in a certain feel, it will make you more marketable at law firms that require a specific role. Plus, you can build a reputation as an expert in your field.

Develop your Leadership Skills: No one teaches you in law school, but you must become a leader, have strong relationships with other people, and become a team player.

Build relationships with other partners and staff: It is important to build strong relationships with other partners and staff at the law firm. This will help you to gain their support when you run for managing partner.

Become involved in the management of the law firm: Once you are a partner, you can start to get involved in the management of the law firm. This will give you experience in the areas that are important to being a managing partner.

Run for Managing Partner: Once you have the necessary experience and skills, you can run for a managing partner. This is a competitive process, but if you are successful, you can lead the law firm into the future.

Senior Partner vs. Managing Partner

The difference between these two terms is that a senior partner has been working with the firm for the longest time and has the highest level of experience. However, their main responsibilities include mentoring junior partners or overseeing a particular practice area.

On the other hand, a managing partner is the highest level in a law firm, and this title is geared towards overall management. The managing partners are responsible for setting the firm’s strategic direction, managing its finances, and overseeing its day-to-day operations. Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

In small law firms, the senior partner and managing partner are usually the same person. The managing partner might be doing a senior partner’s job as well. However, two people are appointed for each role as the firm grows.

The managing partners are elected by the other partners of the firm, while the senior partners are elected on the basis of seniority. Both roles have their place in a law firm, and their work is also important to scale a firm. The senior partners are geared more toward providing the firm with experience and expertise, while the managing partners give their leadership and vision to the firm.

What Law Firm Has the Most Partners?

There are many firms with a high number of partners. The term that’s used to recognize the most partners is profits per equity partner. However, if you’re purely interested in knowing which law firm has the most partners, here’s the list:

Name of Law FirmsManaging Partners
Dentons (verein)2,094
Jones Day846
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius746
King & Wood Mallesons (verein)689
Baker McKenzie (verein)676
Norton Rose Fulbright (verein)657
Grandall Law Firm597
Latham & Watkins550

These are the top ten law firms with the most number of managing partners. While it isn’t in an order related to profit per partner, for pure numbers, you can see that Dentons rises to the top with 2,094 equity partners.

How Much Does a Top Partner at a Law Firm Get Paid?

Firstly, you need to understand that not all partners make millions. Lawyers have this predetermined idea that a partner typically makes more money than non-partners at the same term. While this might be true in most cases, it doesn’t mean they make millions of dollars per year.

Only big firms have huge turnarounds. Managing partners are self-employed and aren’t on a payroll. Hence, they have to get a share of the firm’s profit, and it differs from month to month. To put it simply, the average income of a junior partner at a large firm is around $350-575k.

It still puts them way ahead of most earners in the world. However, when we talk about the big law firms in the US, their turnaround can be $3-10 million, which is huge.

Final Thoughts

Most lawyers want to become managing partners and have a career that will be memorable for them. Being a managing partner isn’t easy and requires years of hard work to achieve. However, it’s possible.

If you have the vision for the title and the heart for it, then you are ready to become a law firm managing partner.

Saad Ali

Saad started his Content Writing journey in 2019 on Fiverr, where he catered to over 100 businesses in different niches like SaaS, Crypto, Meta, Gaming, Entertainment, and more.

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