Leadership in Law Firms

Program Overview

APPLY TODAY 2019 | 2020

Our program for senior law firm leaders (managing partners/chairmen, department, practice or business unit leaders, chief officers) is a six-day, intensive study of a cross-section of professional service firms to help participants develop the perspectives and skills necessary to be effective law firm leaders. Attendees learn frameworks and strategies for balancing professional responsibilities, strategic planning, improving organizational alignment, managing growth and change and motivating people and teams.  Unlike programs purporting to be similar, our Leadership in Law Firms (LLF) program uses business-school style cases written specifically about lawyers, law firms and legal organizations, and brings to the classroom all of the research and insight about the changing global legal profession that the HLS Center on the Legal Profession continuously generates.


April 28 – May 3, 2019 
September 15-20, 2019


April 26 – May 1, 2020 
September 13-18, 2020




By studying a cross-section of professional service firms, including law firms, participants learn the unique challenges of leading these organizations and develop perspectives and skills to be effective law firm leaders.

Participants will learn about and discuss topics such as:

  • The need for balancing their professional responsibilities as lawyers and leadership responsibilities in their firms
  • The importance of having a clear strategy for long term success
  • The power of alignment among firm strategy, organization, and professionals
  • Drivers of economic performance in different segments of legal services
  • Motivation of professionals
  • Recruiting the right professionals and developing them effectively
  • Incentive systems in law firms, including compensation and promotion
  • Governance of professional service firms
  • Leading change in law firms

Participants will develop a holistic understanding of the challenges facing, and the skills and perspectives required of, effective law firm leaders.


The Learning Model

Case studies, lectures, classroom discussions, and small group discussions focused on professional service firms afford participants the opportunity to deliberate on the determinants of sustained firm success.

Case studies on law firms and other professional service firms give participants exposure to real-world issues and help them work through possible approaches and solutions to the problems that professional service firm leaders confront. Participants practice making decisions about challenging real-life management problems in professional service settings.


The program offers participants perspective, concepts, management tools, and skills to help them be more effective as law firm leaders. It is designed to sharpen the leadership skills of professionals who have executive responsibilities in law firms by exploring with them the topics of strategy in law firms, organizational alignment, practice economics and segmentation, motivation of professionals, compensation, managing the producer-manager dilemma, nurturing an inclusive work environment, leading change in a law firm, and effective leadership.

Participants include leaders of law firms world wide. Participants in this program should be currently active as senior law firm leaders (i.e. Managing Partner, Chair of Firm, Senior Partner, Practice Group Head, C-suite level executive (Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Financial Officer, etc.) at the time of attendance. Participants should manage or oversee other lawyers and/or professionals in their current role. Those planning to transition into a firm leadership role should apply for the program once they are active in that role.

Click here to read other testimonials from past attendees. 

Admission Requirements
Admission is selective and based on the fit between your background and responsibilities and individuals to whom the course is targeted. Proficiency in written and spoken English is essential. Participants devote time, attention, and intellect to the learning experience; firms assume fees, provide for reasonable expenses, and relieve the participants of their work responsibilities during the program.

Application Process
All applications are acknowledged and all application information is confidential. There is no deadline for submitting applications. The Admissions Committee reviews applications and admits qualified candidates on a rolling, space-available basis. Space is limited, so applicants are encouraged to submit applications early. The Admissions Committee only reviews completed applications.

Every Applicant Must Submit the Following:

An individual application form:
Complete application online

Program Fee
The program fee covers tuition, course material, accommodation, and most meals. Payment is due within 30 days of the invoice date. If admission is less than 30 days from the start of the program, payment is due upon receipt of the invoice.


Participants who are unable to attend the program may cancel by submitting a cancellation request to ExecEd@law.harvard.edu. Requests must be received by 5 p.m. Eastern Time 30 days prior to the program’s start to receive a full refund. Due to program demand and the volume of pre-program preparation, cancellations received fewer than 30 days prior to the program’s start are subject to full payment.

Immunization Notice

To ensure the safety and well-being of our entire campus community, the State of Massachusetts requires that educational visitors are immunized against common contagious illnesses.  Please ensure that your immunizations are up to date prior to arrival on campus.

Planning your visit

The Teaching Team

Our core faculty are members of the Harvard Law School faculty – distinguished academicians, educators, researchers, authors, and practitioners in their respective fields. Representing various disciplines, they are close to practice through relationships with law firm leaders and through personal involvement as consultants for top firms around the world.

Please click on faculty names below for biographical information.

John Coates IV

Michele DeStefano

Hillary Sale

Ashish Nanda

Scott Westfahl

David Wilkins

In addition to these select faculty, the program benefits from the insights of visiting faculty.

APPLY TODAY 2019 | 2020 


Custom Programs

Need a more customized approach? We provide programming tailored to meet the specific needs of senior firm leaders. Learn more.