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Monzingo Commentary: Internal Communications Structures Can Facilitate Transition Planning, ALM | LAW.COM, PRO MID MARKET, Aug 2022

See the latest article by Mary Beth Link, founder of Monzingo Legal, published on titled “Internal Communications Structures Can Facilitate Transition Planning.”

Reprinted with permission from the August 10, 2022 issue of ALM | LAW.COM PRO MID-MARKET © 2022 ALM Global Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited, contact 877-256-2472 or

Mary Beth’s article reads as follows:

“In recent years, many law firm owners have refocused on exit strategies and succession planning due to the ever-changing pandemic climate and the challenge of retaining top legal talent forcing a re-evaluation of business structures, culture, communication systems, and bottom lines. Additionally, countless hours and much care and attention spent mentoring future leaders were interrupted by a surprising many attorneys’ resignation. Therefore, creating an attractive, well-run law firm with an open communication culture that makes attorneys want to stay, lead, and be a part of your vision is essential. As Peter Drucker says, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Ideally, you need solid management and communication structures that make your law firm operate like a franchise. A well-oiled machine. Model success so that other attorneys will want to lead it into the future, succeeding you, and know how to do so. Expert law firm management starts at the top, and open and consistent communication will go a long way to that end. Effective internal communication is a key ingredient to your culture of success.

Transition planning does not need to be complicated. Nevertheless, the time to start planning for it is early in your law practice, and the second-best time is today. This article addresses one area of succession planning by utilizing a formal and consistent communication structure.

Communication Structures in Your Law Firm

Outlined below are communication structures that help produce future managing partners and owners to sustain your Firm. However, there is no need to over-systemize and leave room for suggestions and innovation among your attorneys.

There are thousands of books about “communication skills”; this is not what we address here. Instead, we lay out a plan for keeping your law firm on track with an ongoing, systematic approach to internal communications at the granular level. Though these vary according to firm size and practice areas, below are scenarios for law firms with less than thirty lawyers to scale to your size, whether very small or large, including:

  • Partners Meetings
  • All-Attorney Meetings
  • Practice Group Meetings
  • Staff Meetings
  • Annual Attorney Retreats

Partners Meeting

Stating the obvious, monthly partners’ meetings, held at the same time every month, and run efficiently, are critical to the success and future transition of your law firm. Never be “too busy” to hold this meeting. Believe it or not, I have worked with firms that do not conduct these.

Include your Legal Administrator, Controller, and other senior-level operations directors who complete your management team. These non-partners are excused during the Executive Session if a sensitive topic arises. Below is an example of a potential partner meeting agenda:

Call to Order – Approval of previous meeting minutes (Old business)

Financial – Monthly snapshot of the Firm’s financial health compared to annual budget; Discussion about over 60 receivables, holding each other accountable for client communication, collection, and case management.

Human Resources – Identify hiring needs, approve new hires, and handle other high-level personnel issues.

Technology – Ongoing attention to evolving legal technology and data management, conflicts, privacy, and security needs.

Facilities – Address areas of concern as to premises, leases, buildouts, or safety.

Marketing – A snapshot of the previous month’s marketing activities and approvals on current and upcoming major marketing expenditures.

New Business – An open discussion on any new management topics.

Executive Session – if needed.

Suggestion:  Keep this meeting to one hour and forty-five minutes starting at 8 a.m. on the second Wednesday of the month.

On separate note, consider rotating to a new Managing Partner at least every three years, if possible.

All-Attorney Meeting

Once per month, law firms would do well to hold a mandatory all-attorney meeting. Additionally, managers and directors are included, as well as marketing heads. An attorney should have a good reason for nonattendance and address it with the Managing Partner for excusal.

This All-Attorney Meeting should be held the week following the Partners Meeting to impart appropriate information. Set this meeting during lunch and rotate attorneys each month to select their favorite caterer creating more camaraderie. Suggested agenda details:

Managing Partner’s Report – A brief and basic high-level report of the state of the Firm and any noteworthy news.

Firm Management Report – Comments by the office manager/COO about upcoming employee events, non-confidential personnel changes, facilities, operations, and any benefits, policies, or procedures being implemented or changed.

Attorney Shares – Each attorney shares a bit of news about one or more of the following:

A case “win” or an interesting new matter.

Cross-marketing opportunities.

Reflection from a client visit, feedback received, or marketing successes.

Something fun about their weekend or personal outside activities, if willing.

Marketing Report – The office or marketing manager provides a marketing activity and business development overview for the previous and next month. This report may include marketing technology improvements, events, charitable and community involvement, seminars, speaking engagements, writing opportunities, and other marketing items.

Closing Remarks – The Managing partner ends the meeting precisely on time. Time allowed for this meeting should be one hour and fifteen minutes.

Practice Group Meetings

Consider monthly Practice Group (PG) Meetings if your Firm is large enough. If smaller, bi-monthly, or quarterly, but have a communication system for addressing the unique needs of specific areas of law. A partner or senior attorney who runs the practice area should lead this meeting and include associate attorneys, paralegals, and PG staff. You may also want to involve your office manager and marketing personnel. Set an agenda and keep the meeting to 45 minutes. Examples of items to cover in PG meetings are:

  • Significant new cases/matters and moving them forward.
  • Trial dates, Briefs, deal-close dates, and other critical deadlines.
  • Technology, workflow issues, and process and procedures improvements.
  • Internal communication improvements.
  • Input from PG attorneys and staff regarding any other operational or marketing matters.

Staff Meetings

Briefly, hire professional legal management or human resources personnel who understand the importance of regular staff luncheons as part of your communication structure. Many law firm management issues at the staff and technical level will disappear when all employees are on the same page and feel included and valued.

Annual Attorney Retreat

A law firm should set aside a healthy budget for an annual Attorney Retreat, a 2–3-day event away from your office outside your city. The Attorney Retreat should be a mix of socializing, team building, and business and marketing communications, bringing together a summary of the past year and looking into the next. Include your office manager and marketing director or vendor for this weekend. In addition, invite spouses and family to the social events. Lastly, consider bringing in a guest speaker on occasion.

In conclusion, hold fast to the above rigorous monthly communications schedule and an annual retreat. Doing so will help you keep a pulse on who is engaged or not. Future leaders will rise to the top. And by utilizing a solid communication structure combined with other law firm management techniques, a natural succession plan will evolve.”

Reprinted with permission from the August 10, 2022 issue of ALM | LAW.COM PRO MID-MARKET © 2022 ALM Global Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited, contact 877-256-2472 or


Monzingo Legal is a personnel and law firm marketing and management consulting agency. Founder Mary Beth Monzingo Link is the driving force behind Monzingo Legal which she founded in 2013. With over 30 years of experience in the legal industry, Link’s background includes as a Legal Administrator, Marketing Director, Executive Director, Human Resources Director and in other legal operations. She has led law firms of varying sizes and practice areas, making her uniquely qualified to understand and deliver on the specific needs of her legal clients. Additionally, Mary Beth is a Certified Personnel Consultant through the National Association of Personnel Services and has served on professional boards of directors in the legal and public relations industries. She is an award-winning entrepreneur featured on various business podcasts, and in the Business ObservereBella Magazine, The KNOW Women, Res Gestae (of the Lee County Bar Association) and Gulfshore Business News. Awards including Best of Busines 2021 by Gulfshore Business and Best of Florida® in Guide to Florida. Mary Beth was also the recipient of the coveted Ginnie Duffey-Troyer Award of Professionalism by the Florida Public Relations Association-Center West Coast Chapter.  A recent graduate of Leadership SWFL, Inc., Mary Beth is also a regular columnist for American Legal Media on, Pro Mid Market by ALM Global Properties, LLC. For more information, please visit

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Mary Beth Monzingo Link
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