New Video: Laura Empson on Deciphering Leadership Dynamics within a Law Firm

Topics: Client Relations, Law Firm Profitability, Law Firms, Leadership, Talent Development, Thomson Reuters


A new blog post from Thomson Reuters Legal UK & Ireland features insight into the dynamics of leadership within professional organizations like law firms from the author of a new book on the subject.

The blog post points out that to work and succeed at a law firm you need to understand where power lies and the politics of the organization. Do you know who the key influencers are? Do you know how decisions get made? Are you invited to the right meetings? This can be challenging in any organization but it’s even particularly nebulous at law firms and other professional services firms, the blog post says.

The blog post then highlights Professor Laura Empson’s new book, Leading Professionals: Power, Politics, and Prima Donnas, (Oxford University Press) describing how it analyzes the leadership power dynamics at professional organizations. Empson is a Professor in the Management of Professional Service Firms at the Cass Business School at the City, University of London.

Her book is a truly fascinating account based on 500 interviews with partners across a range of professional organizations, and reading Prof. Empson’s book is time well spent, regardless of your professional level, the blog post states.

In the words of one of the interviewees for the research: “Leadership sort of just happens”. And that is the nub of the issue, as that is merely a very beguiling illusion. Leadership does not just happen at these organisations. However, this can appear to be the case — as a substantially large element of leadership is socially constructed. And while it’s safe to assume that the above will indeed resonate with most people when dealing with leadership and politics at their organization, it’s also true to say that it’s especially true for professional organizations such as law firms.

During a recent event, Prof. Empson outlined some of the key concepts from her book which were then further discussed by an excellent panel with Margaret Cole, Chief Risk Officer & General Counsel and Executive Board Member of PwC; Sir Gerry Grimstone, Chairman of Standard Life Aberdeen, Deputy Chairman and Senior Independent Director of Barclays, and Independent Non-Executive Board Member of Deloitte NWE LLP; and, David Morley, Former Global Senior Partner, Allen & Overy.

You can see a video of Prof. Empson’s lecture at the Thomson Reuters Legal UK & Ireland blog site.