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Patrick J. McKenna is an internationally recognized author, lecturer, strategist, and seasoned advisor to the leaders of premier law firms.  A prolific writer on the challenges of firm leadership, he is the author or co-author of twelve books including international business bestseller First Among Equals: How To Manage A Group of Professionals with David Maister (The Free Press) and most recently Industry Specialization: Making Competitors Irrelevant (Legal Business World, 2022).  He has worked with at least one of the top ten largest law firms in each of over a dozen different countries.


The perceived pluses are numerous and easy to spot. In contrast, the risks are more subtle and potentially fatal.


Interestingly, there is a pronounced trend toward firms adopting a shared leadership model, with perhaps the most recent example being the elite litigation firm of Quinn Emanuel.  See Karen Sloan, “Litigation giant Quinn Emanuel beefs up leadership, elevating DC, NY partners,” Reuters, May 13, 2022 (noting that 900+ lawyer firm “has shaken up its leadership model, installing two prominent litigators as co-managing partners and shifting namesake Los Angeles-based founder John Quinn from sole managing partner to the newly created role of chairman”).

If your firm has potential office, group (e.g. “our Global Litigation Practice”), or firm leadership candidates who would be great in the role but are reluctant to give up any of their client responsibilities, the notion of having co-leaders may be an attractive alternative.

Some will advance a number of highly rational arguments for having two co-leaders:
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