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Solo In Chicago

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"Reed Smith Hires Two to Run Firm as Global Business"

An intriguing headline about Reed Smith's hiring of two non-lawyers in executive roles. If you read the piece it includes all the usual rhetoric about "running a law firm like a business."

How should small firms grow their personnel??

Our first hire was a part-time non-lawyer secretary whose primarily role is to oversee billing/collections and the non-lawyer aspects of residential real estate closings. I think for most small firms the first hire should be a non-lawyer to oversee the business side of the firm. If this person were full-time with us I'd use her for more marketing related development and general business planning/forecasting.

I think our next hire will also be a non-lawyer sort of paralegal figure to work in pure legal areas, thus creating a pure business staff person and a pure legal staff person. As yet we haven't made this hire...we sort of cover this role currently with a law student who does periodic project work and legal research.

The third hire I could foresee would be an attorney or maybe a merger. I'd like this to be a good "sales" lawyer. Rather than practice area splits in small firms I like the model of a lawyer or two who sign-up clients and then a lawyer or two who focus on substantive legal work. I don't think the strong sales skills plus strong analytical legal skills are found too often in a single person.

What have others done?

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