Learning to Be a Manager

Lawyers, like most professionals, receive little training in how to manage others. But even a junior associate has to know how to manage a secretary and delegate to paralegals. In today’s edition, the WSJ observes (subscription required) that even in corporate America, soft skills training is often simply “trial by fire” or “on the job”. Here are some of the most common mistakes that new managers make when they are suddenly placed in a position of authority. The article suggest that new managers err when they: (1) want to stay pals with former peers (2) assert authority too harshly (3) don’t give a problem employee honest feedback (4) want to keep doing all the work themselves or (5) assume that employees know what they want without giving employees specific direction.

In a law firm partnership, the problem can be particularly bad since partners have limited authority over other partners at the firm. David Maister and Patrick McKenna have written an excellent book on the subject entitled First Among Equals. Here is my book review.

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