Leadership in Law Firms

Program Overview

LLFpicOur 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 30-May 5, 2017

September 24-29, 2017





To Apply:


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. These are professionals who currently have, or are going to assume, management responsibilities (managing partners, senior partners, chairmen, chief executive officers, chief officers, executive directors, executive committee members, office heads, practice heads, sector heads) in their law firms.

To ensure a collegial, small group setting, the class is limited to 50 participants.

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. The Admissions Committee reviews applications and qualified candidates are admitted on a rolling, space-available basis. The Admissions Committee only reviews completed applications.

Every Applicant Must Submit the Following:

  1. An individual application form:
    Complete application online
    Download Application
  2. A sponsorship form:
    Complete sponsorship form online
    Download Sponsorship Form

Sponsorship Form
If the applicant currently holds a management position (managing partner, senior partner, chairman, chief executive officer, chief operating officer, executive director, executive committee members, office head, practice head, sector head), he or she does not need to submit a sponsorship form.

If the applicant does not currently hold a management position in the firm, the applicant must provide a letter of recommendation from the managing partner, chief executive, or member of the executive committee of the firm. The letter of recommendation should contain the following information.

  • An explanation of the applicant’s anticipated management role in the firm
  • The firm’s objectives and goals relating to the applicant’s participation in the program

Application Deadlines
Applicants are requested to apply at least two months before the program start date. The program is limited to 50 participants and accepts no more than three participants from any one firm. Early application is encouraged.

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.

Cancellations, Substitutions and Deferrals

Participants who are unable to attend the program have three options: cancellation, substitution or deferral. Cancellations must be submitted in writing up to 30 days prior to the program to receive a full refund. Due to program demand and the volume of preprogram preparations, cancellations received less than 30 days from the start of the program are subject to full payment.

Requests to send a substitute to attend the designated program must be submitted in writing by 5 pm EST up to 3 business days prior to the program.  A Substitute must submit her/his admissions forms and subject to the approval of the Harvard Law School Admissions Committee, the registration fee will be transferred from the registered participant to the substitute without penalty.

Requests for a deferral must be submitted in writing up to 3 days prior to the program, and no later than 5 pm, to be granted; if granted a deferral fee of $500 will be assessed. Deferrals are only granted once to the next program date (i.e. If an attendee is accepted to the May program, they may defer to the following September program). Once a deferral has been granted, cancellations are subject to full payment regardless of when notice is received.

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

Ashish Nanda

Scott Westfahl

David Wilkins

In addition, the program will benefit from the insights of visiting faculty.

Hear what attendees say about their Leadership in Law Firms experience.


See the HLS Executive Education Difference

_FVM3769View our Frequently Asked Questions page to learn how Harvard Law School Executive Education programs uniquely meet the needs of legal professionals. See our Program Comparison Chart to determine the best program for you or your organization.