Strategic Guidance for Managing Partners: A Framework for Finance and Accounting Department Oversight

While usually not financial experts, Managing Partners of small and mid-sized law firms still need to be able to set expectations of their finance and accounting team.  Skill sets vary amongst finance teams and leaders but still Managing Partners should frame their expectations around fulfilling the following needs of the firm:

– Financial Strategy: The capability to devise and analyze the strategy of firm. The finance team supplies information and advises the key decision makers in areas such as people and partner strategies, revenue/rate approach, expense optimization, investments and capitalization requirements.  
– Accounting Operations: The need to design and operate a department that enables the effective capture and processing of all transactions required to operate the firm.
– Data and Analytics: The ability to measure the results of operations and underlying processes, supply such information to leaders of the Firm, analyze the results and provide recommendations to decision makers.

While the lines are often fuzzy, a CFO will usually contribute most to supporting strategy and analyzing the business while a controller will focus on maintaining sound accounting operations.  Set expectations of your people accordingly but be clear about the area in which they should most closely focus.  

Improve Processes Using OPI

It may feel a little unnatural but understanding and visualizing your desired results will allow you to design your procedures to ensure you get clear measurable information out of your processes.  This is key to constant improvement.

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What is quality information?

Quality information is the foundation of any good decision making. When running a law firm, the quality of the information you use can significantly impact your client relationships, and sometimes even your ability to practice.

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