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Avoiding the worst perils of the corporate drift

By Nick Jarrett-Kerr, Visiting Professor, Nottingham Law School

21 August 2013

It is all too easy to rail against the lack of effective and speedy decision making in professional service firms, particularly in firms in which every decision has to be subjected to endless and time-consuming debate involving most or all of the partners or owners.

The popular response is for firms to become more corporate and to devolve more power and authority to a senior management team headed by an authoritative CEO or managing partner. But, firms that have tried this approach have often found general partners becoming increasingly uncomfortable with livelihood-affecting decisions being made by the few, with little or no consultation with the many.

There are of course exceptions - generally, firms at which the leadership team is experienced, credible and trusted by the general partners. But, even in ?those firms, the level of communication between the top management team and the firm is often criticised, with management often criticised for being ?too...

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