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Parker Poe Concludes Innovative Mini-MBA Program

Law firm is first in country to launch multistate effort for yearlong initiative instructing legal professionals in business courses

  • December 16, 2016

Charlotte, NCParker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP, a business law firm with more than 200 attorneys and 350 total employees in seven offices across the Southeast, has completed its highly successful yearlong “Mini-MBA” program. The internal program was designed to present an opportunity for the firm’s attorneys, paralegals, and senior administration to develop their professional business skills and acumen in order to provide unparalleled legal counsel to their clients, a real differentiator from its competitors.

Parker Poe is the first law firm in the country to formalize an in-house program of this nature. The initiative included a bi-monthly calendar of classroom-style lectures by well-respected business experts across a variety of fields. The program followed a traditional business school curriculum, but customized for the law firm environment. Each course offering was streamed live to all offices and included question and answer sessions. Selected speakers provided insights about topics that enabled participants to broaden their general business knowledge while also learning the details of business principles. The in-house modules taught Parker Poe attorneys, paralegals and senior administration what today’s competitive business environment expects to receive from their legal counsel.

While “Mini-MBA”-styled programming is offered in some business fields, it is a relatively new innovation in the legal sector. Among the few firms organizing these type courses, most focus on providing a similar curriculum to new hires by partnering with external education programs. Parker Poe’s program is distinctive in that its emphasis is on a yearlong training of the essentials needed for business education to legal professionals at all levels, building on a process the firm has cultivated over the last two years in its “Parker Poe Path” programming.

In 2015, Parker Poe developed an inaugural business development program called “The Path” with a goal of building and sustaining relationships integral to client development. The program was an instant success, and the firm’s 2016 edition, “The Path 2.0, Mini-MBA” was created to augment that with a focus on business education as industry clients are demanding more value for their legal spend. The firm recognized that clients no longer look to their attorneys for solely legal consultation and services, but there is a proven need for an understanding of best business practices in the legal profession.

“With this program, we saw an opportunity to better serve our clients by providing our attorneys and other legal professionals with business knowledge they would not normally learn in their legal education and day-to-day practice,” said Parker Poe Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer Kristen Leis.“ Our goal was to focus on the language of business and bring in top thought leaders and subject matter experts to impart these learnings, and it was a success. We look forward to incorporating what we’ve learned during this curriculum and partnering with our clients to provide value to their business success.”

The Path 2.0, Mini MBA” topics and speakers included:

  • Economics of Law—Timothy B. Corcoran, Principal, Corcoran Consulting Group
  • Project Management: Driving Efficiency, Value, and Competitive Advantages—Catherine Alman MacDonagh, CEO/Founder, Legal Lean Sigma Institute
  • The Ethics of Technology in Today’s Legal Climate—Will Hornsby, Staff Counsel, American Bar Association
  • Organizational Behavior: Being a Team Player in a Business Environment—Special Guest Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues, former NBA superstar
  • Buying Legal Services—Timothy B. Corcoran and Catherine Alman MacDonagh
  • Leadership Development Workshop—Mark Beese, President, Leadership for Lawyers, LLC

Tim Corcoran, a featured speaker, endorsed the program commenting, “Today’s corporations need law firms that speak their language, and that starts with understanding basic business economics and how effective legal representation can improve business velocity. This cutting-edge legal career development effort by Parker Poe helps pave the way for the future of how law and business interact.”

From our speaker on Project Management, Catherine MacDonagh, the attorneys learned that “Process improvement and project management is a powerful combination. Process improvement is the way we create and deliver our work to our clients. Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and best practices for an engagement. The language that resonates with clients today is process improvement and project management.”

In addition, the firm’s capstone speaker, Mark Beese, stated that “To change behavior you must change the culture” in his leadership development session, which led to further insight to developing a vision for your firm.

With more than 100 attorneys participating in each session of the program, the yearlong initiative has already contributed to the firm’s overall business development efforts with positive feedback. In polling participants, we found that the attorneys  gained insight to the importance of business considerations, focusing on client’s issues and targeted client development, as well as the long-term financial benefits in applying business principals to law practice.

About Parker Poe

Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP has approximately 200 lawyers in seven offices located in major markets across North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The firm provides legal counsel to large commercial and public organizations on litigation, corporate and regulatory matters.

Parker Poe is a member of TerraLex, one of the world’s leading international legal networks. With more than 155 top independent law firms and more than 19,000 attorneys in 100 countries, TerraLex members provide the legal resources and expertise needed to conduct seamless business worldwide.