1. What factors have led to Duane Morris’s success? What prompted their late-1990s growth spurt? 2. How should Duane Morris plan to integrate their new acquisition? 3. What are the biggest risks faced by the firm in the next 5-10 years? Duane Morris strategy evolved over time while leveraging its history. The strategy was shaped by its environment, resources and leadership. The degree of congruence between the people, the tasks, the informal and formal organization was relatively high, which led to a successful growth and profitability. Duane Morris compensation structure is one factor that was well aligned with the company’s strategy from formal organization perspective and led to its success.
The process was transparent, flexible and rewarded teamwork. The firm used quantitative analysis combined with qualitative aspects to be able to reward employees for contributing to the overall functioning of the firm supports. This flexibility empowered employees to utilize their time in the most effective way for the firm instead of struggling to perform functions that they are not as strong at as their colleagues.
In addition, “attorneys who did work for other attorneys’ clients received substantial credit for this work. ” This reinforced teamwork and as a result promoted the firm’s business strategy of cross-selling, as evident by 20% of revenues originating from interoffice business. Lastly, Duane Morris chose to underpay its leadership and keep low spread. This supported their value of teamwork and collegial work environment by preventing tension and politics among the partners. * Promotion is another factor. The ratio of partners to associates was law relative to other firms.
This was a differentiating aspect that enables to firm to provide experienced service to its client and ultimately stay competitive in generating business, retaining clients, and charging higher fees. Additionally, the firm treated equity and non-equity partners practically equal in all aspects. This aligned everyone’s motivation with the firm’s interests, removed tensions and increased collegiality. Such collegiality reduced employee turnover and improved cohesive teamwork, which translated into better service for the client. * The firm’s culture (informal organization) supported active listening and consensus-based decision making.
The process allowed for all questions and concerns to be heard and ideally lead to a better decision. Though this process could be slow and lead to groupthink, it did reinforce teamwork, collegial relationships and trust in the leadership. * Duane Morris’ business approach to their management was unique and another factor in their success. The firm spent significant time on strategic planning, developing 5-year plans and coordinating across their offices. This aligned the entire firm to fight in the same direction and since everyone was doing it together, it supported the collaborative teamwork culture.
In addition, using analytics and data to make “strategic decisions based on something other than intuition” allowed the firm to dedicate their efforts and resources to the most profitable practices. This reliance on information and trends to assess profitability, risk and opportunity provided for a understanding of future needs and greater confidence in its growth strategy. These “strong underlying [business] fundamentals are what gave [the firm] the ability to sustain its growth” and successful compete in the marketplace. * Lifting out experiencing team vs. hiring associates. After 4 months they turned profitable.
This allows for a quicker growth, supporting their growth strategy. On the same time most time the lift outs were small-scale because it allows to smooth integration into to firm’s culture. Pg. 17 – “start-up cost and profitable within 4 months” did not subsidize offices – lifting out experienced ppl allows to grow quickly and profitability bc they can hit the ground running and contribute to the success. * * This could align with their lift-out strategy since the partners in the other firm are attracted to the fact that their voice will be heard and they will be valuable from day one.
This probably contributed to better retention. On the other hand, this process is more slow and conservative, potentially leading to the firm missing out on great opportunities. * The people it hired were well aligned with its straregy. They spend significant amount ensuring the person they are interviewing understands the culure and will be a good fit. 1. Client have multiple touch point provides better service for the client interms of expertise, but at the same time could prevent any one lawyer leaving and taking away that client as hey client appreciate having all these other lawyers as well. This is aligned with the firm strategy and helped their success of growing and not losing clients. 2. Another business approach is their ancillary businesses and its success growth. The separation from Duane Morris, called another name, so it limits their exposure. In addition, if things go terrible wrong, it is not their client anyway bc 85% to 90% of the ancillary businesses’ customers were not law firm clients. Also this business was not the same cyclicality so it allowed to diversify its revenue stream.
Duane Morris’ growth in the late 1990s was prompted by the macro environment change at the same time they embraced their history of team work and listening to each other, resources that are good at team work and leadership that promoted team work while adjusting to the changing macro environment. Their option was to either become big and service this corporations nationality or stay small and specialize. Since they were already mid-size and doing well they decide to grow. This prompted the strategy they took to grow and not stay small or mid-size. What drove growth in the 90’s is the changing industry trend to more national than merely regional. Their corporate clients evolved to be national and global and they had to be able to service these clients in all cities and wider range of practice needs. As a result of customer change the competition is changing and either becoming specialized boutique law firm or a big national firm to meet these changing needs. As a result of customer and competition, the company had to change to stay in sync. Duane Morris response was to acquire companies and expand.
Duane Morris’s culture has some aspect to it that were easily scalable and some that were not. * Its collaborative culture and not competitive (not stealing each other’s clients) is scalable especially with assistance of technology, such as their CRM system that was also integrated with systems. Such systems allow more easily sharing information across offices, practice groups and globally, supporting collaboration. Furthermore, using such systems to obtain information and data to make decisions is also easily scalable. The firm’s appreciation of individual’s strengths is also scalable, though the process will need to be adjusted.
Talking to everyone on the team to provide inputs for the compensation process is very hard to accomplish once the firm has hundreds of lawyers and many practices. For one, each manager or partner has its own perspective about the evaluation of a person’s performance and therefore, the firm will need to make sure to establish a more objective process across the practice areas and the regions. On the other hand, consensus based decision making is not scalable because having a discussion where everyone can voice their opinion is very difficult as the firm reaches hundreds of partners. Such discussions will become lengthy and inefficient. * Integration and inter-team morale, it was supported by the annual meetings. Scalable. Allows for cross-pollination.
They still break-up into practice groups across multiple offices. Duane Morris should plan to integrate their new acquisitions by taking the following steps: * It should consolidate the two offices into one San Francisco location to unify the two teams. Gradually start working on integrating the CRM systems. * Any overlapping practices between Duane Morris and Hancock, such as insurance, should be integrated through meetings and functions to familiarize the lawyers to one another. * Cultural integration, which Duane Morris started by nominating two Hancock partners. This sends the signal that Hancock is part of the team, their opinion is valued, and they are an equal citizen. It is important to apply the same compensation, promotion structure and other Duane Morris values to Hancock employees. Cut costs where there are inefficiencies, such as duplication of roles (lay off these employees)
* Raise fees to the Duane Morris standards The biggest risks faced by the firm in the next 5-10 years are: * Ability to keep on growing and keeping profitable – the bigger the organization the more complex it is and their ability to handle such complex organization. Keep identifying and keep track of not profitable practices. Maintain what made them successful across the firm.
Ability to grow while maintain culture and ability to manage * Ability to maintain their high level of service, which is the means by which they differentiated themselves * Lose their integration skills, if they grow too fast they can not integrate as well and cause less successful growth * Bonovitz’s successor will be able to main the culture and unite across the firm. The company should look to promote from within that has good familiarity with the other partners, build strong relationship with others has loyalty and it promotes their sense of comradary versus if they bring someone from outside.
How are the decisions made in the future. As the firm grew, it is hard to maintain its consensus decision making. They should utilize technology to address this. Implement more voting/survey, create more structure around regional or practice areas, and then that leader will bring it up to higher manager. Keep decision by consensus but delegate to lower level management and not every decision needs to be discussed firm wide. * In 2008 the US economy entered a recession and having such a big practice how they stay profitable, pay their lawyers, maintain all their different offices and keep people working.
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