David J. Parnell

Legal Search & Placement, Author, Columnist

Emerging Approaches to Law Firm Profitability

Managing and growing a firm’s profitability should not just be an exercise for difficult economic periods, but instead must be a priority at all times. Rather than being perceived as an irksome bolt-on, it is necessary to see it as a great opportunity in these times of increased business. Existing and persistent cultural norms amongst lawyers, however, means that the reform of current business practices does not always come naturally. Nor is it necessarily easy to find the right practical advice that can carry a firm through the transition.

Emerging Approaches to Law Firm Profitability aims to be the ideal tool to assist with implementation, providing essential guidance for those seeking new means of maximizing their firm’s capacity. Featuring advice and reflections from a wide variety of contributors, ranging from business and finance professionals to thought leaders and consultants, this book offers in-depth, intensive  insight into the challenges generated by today’s dynamic and hypercompetitive legal landscape.

Most importantly, Emerging Approaches to Law Firm Profitability moves past the identification of these obstacles and supplies original, innovative ways of tackling them. Expert guidance is complemented by compelling case studies and effective real-world examples, supplying principles that can be applied to firms of any size or capacity. This book can be purchased (for $195) through Ark Group.

Managing Legal Change Initiatives

Successfully managing a change initiative is no simple feat, regardless of the size of the firm – distilling the process of change into a workforce takes careful planning and support. Change is stressful and difficult for people to process and accept, as we often cling to what we know. This is especially true of lawyers, who are notoriously averse to change.

However, the legal sector has begun to rapidly transform – and the firms that don’t change with it are going to struggle to stay relevant. In these turbulent times for firms, change initiatives must be properly managed to ensure the whole firm can successfully shift to the new norm and stick to it. Without the proper support and management, a firm runs the risks of alienating their workforce – who will not take well to sudden and imposed change.

Managing Legal Change Initiatives looks to illustrate the best methods of introducing and managing change in a sector that is known for being adverse to it. The book highlights the critical obstacles and pitfalls that law firms will face during transitional periods, and outlines some of the best methods of approaching organizational change; from building a change framework to follow, to encouraging a shift in partner behavior through the compensation strategy. This new book also explores why change is so difficult for individuals – with discussion of the neuroscience behind change, and the role of emotional intelligence in leaders to help garner a transformation. 

With the disruptions to legal services predicted to continue for some time, it will be those firms who adapt, put into place, and act upon a change management strategy that will be the ones capitalize on changes to come. This book can be purchased (for $196.31) through Ark Group

Smarter Lateral Hiring for Law Firms

In a flat market where organic growth is increasingly difficult to achieve, firms continue to bank on the (considerable) benefits that can accrue from lateral hiring. However, there are still considerable risks.

The newcomer may fail to perform as expected or even make an expensive exit shortly after arriving, their book of business is not as profitable (or as portable) as it first appeared to be, their arrival could upset the cultural apple cart, or that they could be the cause of unforeseen client conflicts.

But the potential payoff when firms do make the right hire make up for all the failed attempts.

Ark Group’s new book Smarter Lateral Hiring for Law Firms is designed to help all firms reassess and strengthen their lateral strategy and processes in line with best practices.

Smarter Lateral Hiring for Law Firms considers the main issues arising from a strategy of growth through lateral recruitment and shares practical steps that firms should be taking both pre- and post-hire, and on an ongoing basis, that can help them to sidestep common pitfalls and maximize the contributions of their laterals.

With contributions from a range of legal recruiters, consultants, academics, and law firm HR and marketing/BD professionals Smarter Lateral Hiring for Law Firms shows there are steps all firms can take to ensure they approach lateral recruitment in a more structured way, make better decisions and improve their lateral batting average. This book can be purchased (for $245) through Ark Group.

The Mechanics of Law Firm Profitability

Many law firms today are far too focused on increasing market share; they should be paying attention to what makes them a more profitable business. Market share doesn’t matter much if you’re not profitable, and firms cannot simply grow their way to prosperity by undercutting the competition. Instead, firms must focus on value creation and increasing clients’ willingness to pay for their services. The question should be: “What can your firm do better, or more efficiently, and more profitably than anyone else?”

The Mechanics of Law Firm Profitability: People, Process, and Technology examines why a focus on profitability and metrics is reshaping law firm operations and matter management; how to define the bottom line and to distinguish between “good” revenue and “bad”; and how to change the dialogue from “hours and revenue” to “revenue and profit”, while changing the mindset from increasing market share to simply running a profitable business. This book can be purchased on Ark Group’s site.

The Mechanics of Law Firm Profitability covers topics including: The “every dollar is a good dollar” fallacy: The difference between good and bad revenue; Increasing profitability by improving client intake; Using KM to increase firm profitability; Pricing, profitability, and compensation; Measuring different practice groups, differently; Creating a profitable lateral strategy; Four challenges in managing law firm profitability; Strategy and culture driving effective use of people, process, and technology; Profitability and the Concept of ‘Managing on the Edge’ – Why It Is Important to Regional Law Firms. This book can be purchased (for $245) through Amazon.

The Failing Law Firm: Symptoms and Remedies

As institutions, firms face different, and in some cases, more intense structural challenges than most-if-not-all others. They are not held to the same standards of transparency, financial hygiene, and infrastructural-sterility as their publically-traded clients. Leadership and management can all too easily be unprepared for their incumbency and overwhelmed by double duties. The firm’s “product” is highly mobile and prone to flight during even minimal financial dips. And while these are just a few hurdles, they alone are more than enough to bring many corporate CEO’s to their knees. The industry presses on, regardless, and deserves some guidance in its evolution.

The Failing Law Firm was initially written with the purpose of simply illuminating the symptoms of a struggling firm. But after some research and contemplation, the author came to understand that by the time most symptoms revealed themselves, it is often too late for the attorney, management, or leadership to do something about them.

He dug deeper, seeking not only to more effectively define and articulate the various major components of a firm’s embodiment, but, to also understand the ways in which they interact at a deeper, more fundamental level to induce stability or vulnerability. This deeper understanding can provide readers with a tool that is geared more toward predicting destabilization, rather than just defining it once it is happening.

The other side of this coin is a blue print that attorneys, management, and leadership can use in analyzing, or planning for, the robustness, cohesiveness, and strength of a firm’s infrastructure and embodiment. Importantly, and perhaps for the first time in a single volume, the themes and deeper phenomena that underlie the various components of a firm and how they interact—constructively or destructively—in a matrix fashion are discussed. This book can be purchased (for $50.27) through Amazon.

The Failing Law Firm Table of Contents:

1. The End of Innocence
2. The Anatomy of a Failing Firm
3. The Money Press
4. Law Firm Governance
5. Policies and Procedures
6. Law Firm Cultures
7. Law Firm Leadership
8. Law Firm Strategy
9. Law Firm Compensation
10. Taking Academia to the Office
11. Sleeping with the Enemy?

Follow the link to purchase The Failing Law Firm.

In-House: A Lawyer’s Guide to Getting a Corporate Legal Position

In-House: A Lawyer’s Guide to Getting a Corporate Legal Position is the “must-have” career book on finding, securing, and thriving in the fiercely competitive in-house legal market. Author David J. Parnell takes the in-house-bound attorney by the hand, leading him or her through

the maze of potential job-hunting strategies, dispelling the myths about corporate life, and offering the reader an arsenal of tips, skills and methods for creating a successful corporate career. Sometimes irreverent, always poignant, Parnell’s In-House is the first step on your way to corporate legal glory.


One of the more surprising attributes of the book is Parnell’s candor. For the first time, a legal recruiter is giving you an unfettered view of how things are done – or at least how they should be done. No hype, no silver bullets, no BS. For the practicing attorney who is frustrated by their current job search, this offers them a pragmatic, systematic approach that affords them more control over their professional destiny. For the recent graduate or those considering law school, this book offers a neck-breakingly raw explanation of what it takes, point by point, to land one of these positions.

In addition, the book includes numerous appendixes, containing sample resumes, sample questions, a deal sheet and even a resignation letter. If you’re looking for an insider’s guide to getting a corporate legal job, this book is a must-have for your job-search library. This book can be purchased (for $66.06) through Amazon.

In-House Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: MythBusters: Separating In-House Fact from Fiction
Chapter 2: Guts, Tools, and Reality Check: Do You Have What It Takes?
Chapter 3: Painting the Bull’s Eye: Defining Your Ideal Position
Chapter 4: The Paper Ambassadors: Writing Your Resumé and Deal Sheet
Chapter 5: The Funnel of Love: Creating Your Marketing Funnel and Strategy
Chapter 6: First Contact: Approaching the GC Chapter 7: Interviewing 101: The Fundamentals of Interviewing
Chapter 8: First Impressions Are the Only Impressions: Maximizing Your Physical Appearance
Chapter 9: First Time’s a Charm: Interview Rapport and Compatibility
Chapter 10: Abe Lincoln Interviewing: Intelligence, Competence and Credibility
Chapter 11: Borrowing Johnny’s Fiddle to Bargain with the Devil: Compensation Negotiations

Appendix A: Personal & Professional Skills Questionnaire
Appendix B: Position-Specific Filtering Questions
Appendix C: Sample Resumé 1
Appendix D: Sample Resumé 2
Appendix E: Sample Deal Sheet
Appendix F: Position Comparison Guideline
Appendix G: Sample Resignation Letter
Appendix H: Search Checklist

Follow the link to purchase In-House.