Leverage Is a Habit

October 15

A constant term used in law firm management circles is leverage. It is common to hear leverage equated to having more associates than partners. The basic idea is that you can accomplish more work more efficiently with a team, which in turn produces a more abundant result.

While this is all well and good, leverage is best viewed as a behavioral trait in a law firm context. Consider that Wikipedia (a definition I like in this context) defines leverage as follows:

" leverage (or gearing) is using given resources in such a way that the potential positive or negative outcome is magnified"

Considering this definition, leverage relates very easily to behaviors. It would be wise to also note that leverage is not always positive. Here are some simple examples of positive and negative behaviors that influence outcomes:


  • Training is an action that produces a positive result over and over
  • Coordinating client work and available staff maximizes efficiency


  • Making someone wait for instructions or information needed to produce a positive result
  • Wasting someone's time with irrelevant facts just because you can or want to assert yourself

The behaviors of a law firm as an organization also influence leveraging.  Since successful leveraging relies on both experienced partners and newer associates to work on client files and bring in money for the firm, it is important that a law firm isn't too top heavy or have too many partners.  It is equally important to have strong associate retention rates to be successful with leveraging.  The way a law firm handles recruiting, attorney development and transition planning all effect how well it leverages.


When you start thinking in these terms, it is easy to imagine a number of examples where behavior will magnify the results of a work effort. Further imagine how clients will react to an attorney or firm that is seen as a vehicle for positively magnifying results.