Understanding the Top 5 Management Styles Used by Law Firms

Law firms today have not only revolutionized how they provide legal services to their clients but how they manage their legal teams. Gone are the days of a “one size fits all” model when it comes to managing a firm. Instead, to succeed in this ever-changing landscape, each law firm needs to understand what particular style of management works best for them, their employees, and clients. And surprisingly, there are quite a few styles to choose from.

Thankfully, we are here to help you better understand these different management techniques. In the below guide, we will go over the top five management styles that many law firms use, how these styles can impact your firm, and help you figure out which of these styles may be the best solution for you and your legal team. 

Understanding Different Aspects of Law Firm Management

Before a law office can determine what type of management style would be best for them and their firm, they must first understand what management style means. 

Typically, management style refers to how a manager of a business (or law firm) works to fulfill the business’s goals. These styles refer to how these managers plan, make decisions and manage their staff.

However, while numerous factors can affect these management styles, some of the more common ones include the following:

  • The overall organization of the law firm
  • The law firm’s priorities and policies
  • The law firm’s staff engagement and skill levels
  • Employment laws, and 
  • Competitors 

Although some of these factors are outside of a manager’s control, they can still impact how a manager will lead their legal team.

The Top 5 Management Styles Used by Law Firms

Even though there are more than five management styles that a law firm can use, below, we will discuss the top five styles that many businesses try to implement. 

The Autocratic Management Style

This style focuses on one-way communication between a manager or boss and their workers or employees. Out of all the management styles, this one is the most controlling, as the management team has all the power and makes all the decisions, while the employees and staff are monitored closely and have defined goals they need to meet.

The benefits of this management style are that decisions can be made quickly, and large teams can better understand their expectations and complete their tasks without uncertainty. However, this style also leads to dissatisfied employees, a higher turnover, and a lack of professional development.

The Democratic Management Style

With this type of management style, managers or law firm owners are encouraged to allow their staff to provide input into the decisions of the firm. However, the manager or owner is the one who will make the final call.

With this method, communication goes both ways, allowing everyone to share an opinion or an idea. Yet, while this method will enable firms to develop a deeper bond between management and their employees, including trust, this process can be time-intensive and result in law firm owners falling behind when they have other tasks or issues they need to handle.

The Laissez-Faire Management Style

As a manager, if you decide to implement this type of management style, you are taking a hands-off approach when it comes to leadership. Instead, you trust your staff to do their job without supervision, and the legal teams are left to solve their own issues and make their own decisions. The only time management would get involved is if significant problems develop or the staff requests their help.

Even though with this type of management style, job satisfaction may increase for those who want autonomy in the workplace, and engagement is often heightened since the workers are in charge, some of the issues that develop from this management style include a lack of productivity, a lack of focus and uniformity, and poorly managed conflicts that can result in a loss of business and clients.

The Visionary Management Style

Under this management style, management tends to communicate a direction they want their employees to go in and tries to convince the team to execute this vision. Once this idea and strategy have been shared, the employees can carry out this vision on their own terms. However, managers can check in with the team to verify that everything is on the right track.

This type of management style provides employees with a great sense of autonomy, which is great for their morale, especially since it leaves them motivated to do their jobs. Unfortunately, pulling off this style is often challenging since getting all the employees on the same page as your vision is not easy, and failing to inspire them can leave them unproductive or unwilling to get the job done.

The Coaching Management Style

This style is exactly what it sounds like. Managers coach their employees to help them improve their overall professional development. These managers want their employees to grow, so they are more likely to be patient with failure, as long as employees tend to learn and improve from these downfalls.

With this type of management style, managers motivate their team and find rewards that make their employees hungry to flourish and improve their performance. Unfortunately, while this style is excellent at creating strong bonds between management and employees, it can also create a cutthroat environment between coworkers.

Find The Perfect Management Style for You

Although there are many great management style options for you to choose from, determining which of these styles is the best option for your firm is not always easy. Thankfully, you do not have to make this crucial decision alone. When you work with a legal process outsourcing company with experience with these different styles, they can help you find the right fit for you and your firm. 

For instance, at Back Office Legal, our professionals have the expertise needed to help you figure out not only what you need to do to manage your law firm, but we can also work with your attorneys and help you form and maintain productive client relationships. Plus, because our team has over 30 years of experience coaching lawyers and law firms, we can make sure that your firm masters the art of law firm management.


That is why if you want to figure out which of these management styles is suitable for you and your legal team, look no further than Back Office Legal. Contact us today to obtain further information regarding our services or to schedule a consultation with one of our team members. 

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