showimage.aspx.jpg Peter Cornell, Managing Partner, Clifford Chance I admire 53 year old outgoing Clifford Chance Managing Partner Peter Cornell for his integrity and self awareness in saying that “his skills as a lawyer were too rusty for him to return to practice” according to an article in today’s New York Law Journal by Anthony Lin titled: Clifford Chance Managing Partner Stepping Down I am not worried about Peter Cornell who is likely in sufficient demand to have his choice of lucrative careers after he steps down as MP. The importance of this story is not about Peter Cornell or Clifford Chance. My point pertains to the many managing partners in much smaller firms who risk their futures for their firms every day. Many have no built in compensation safeguard to allow them to gravitate back to practice after retiring from their Managing Partner role. There is a serious period of adjustment to attract work and to ensure that work is of the highest quality. The worst part for many firms is that their Managing Partners are well aware of this vulnerability and therefore refuse to dramatically diminish their law practices and therefore do not spend serious time and effort on management. I have worked with a number of firms where the managing partner is too busy to manage but won’t (or can’t) delegate much to others. These firms pay the biggest price of all because the meander through the years virtually unmanaged. It is time for all law firms of more than a handful of lawyers to realize that there is a return on the investment of management and a competitive disadvantage for ignoring that fact. They must create safety valves for Managing Partners who can then lend themselves to the management of the firm with enthusiasm rather than dabble in it while carrying a heavy caseload.