In a growing trend, we have been delighted to help more and more firms recruit Heads of Operations, Business Managers and Practice Managers into their teams. In recent months, we have worked on placements in 13 firms, seven of which represented the firms’ first-ever placement of such a job title. Not only is it always rewarding for us to support firms with new capabilities like this, but it’s an eye-opener into changing requirements in law and professional services firms. Firms are increasingly looking for business services professionals who have a wide remit and who can act as a firm’s operational backbone, taking on a surprisingly broad array of important responsibilities. In this piece, we look at the Head of Operations/Business Manager/Practice Manager role and what kind of support they are providing to their firms.

The job description

The typical list of duties and responsibilities for this role varies quite widely from firm to firm. But a Head of Operations/Business Manager/Practice Manager will typically be responsible for supporting operational excellence, usually for a practice group or department, providing a range of responsibilities which take in aspects to do with people, clients, marketing, finance, performance management and general administration. In addition, the roles often stray into Chief of Staff territory, providing executive support to the practice group leader. Many of these professionals have a core competency in finance and may perhaps have been accountants in their previous lives.  Others will have come via the lawyer route or via another function, the most common being business development or marketing.  Regardless of the background, however, strong financial acumen is essential and is often provided for via an MBA.  Broad experience is important for many of these roles, with firms looking for candidates who understand finance, human resources, IT, business development and marketing, and who can use that knowledge to help these functions work effectively for the benefit of their division or practice group. In the larger firms, areas like international integration – of systems, technology and client service – also figure significantly in the list of priorities. Many provide the right candidates with the opportunity to help shape and drive the international strategy of their group, helping on overseas expansion activities, as well as implementing the firm’s global vision. Firms are looking for candidates who have the ability to work with people at all levels, to manage relationships with Partners and, critically, other business services professionals, to translate business strategy into operational effectiveness. These are exciting roles that have interaction with people across the whole business. With firms intent on implementing change that streamlines and improves operational efficiency, Head of Operations, Business Manager and Practice Manager roles are opportunities that provide candidates with a tangible way to make a real contribution. If you would like to know more about Heads of Operations, Business Manager and Practice Manager roles in law and professional services, you may be interested in listening to Laura’s recent podcast, published by the Law Management Section, in which Laura joins law firms to discuss the rise of roles dedicated to operational excellence in law, including Practice Manager, Practice Director and Chief Operating Officer titles. Click here to find out more or on the image below to listen to the podcast now. Listen to "Careers in law management: Now and in the future" on Spreaker. Laura can be contacted at [email protected]