Firms to favour non-lawyer CEOs, expert predicts

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According to the managing director Duff & Phelps Steve Billot, most firms will be looking to non-lawyers to take up leadership roles and make strategic business decisions.

In a recent article for Managing Partner, Billot explained that non-lawyer managers are key to the commercial success of a firm, and that legally training managers often lack the ability to make potentially risky decisions.

“Law firms think they are a profession, but they are a business – a professional business, but ultimately still a business,” he said.
“Partners need to think as a business first and as a profession second.”

A number of partnerships across the UK have appointed non-lawyer managers and according the Managing Partner, the trend looks set to continue.

“A corporate management structure is needed in law firms to enable effective decision making,” he said.

“Accountants have the same problem, but they have learned to delegate responsibility for business management to others.”

In a cutting critique of the legal profession, Billot added that he believes lawyers tend not to delegate but abdicate responsibility until something goes wrong when they will regain control.

According to a recent report, international firm Bird & Bird is looking to give management roles to non-lawyers.