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This summer, The Economist ran a cover story in which they discussed the overstretched CEO. This article describes how modern CEOs are often increasingly caught up in matters surrounding geopolitics and political debates both domestically and internationally. These include, but are not limited, to socio-cultural challenges in the U.S. and international supply chain issues as companies determine whether they will continue to do business with authoritarian states that are increasingly seen as at odds with the rest of the global community. Although the authors diagnose the problems, they offer few solutions other than cautioning CEOs to be careful about what they choose to speak on and generally advising them to adhere to the business’ core values and mission.  

At the very least CEOs need to be aware of the increasing number of challenges impacting businesses today. Law firms and their leaders are no exception. First, law firm leaders serve corporate clients that are themselves involved in these complex issues relating to supply chains, foreign partners, and domestic audiences. Second, many law firms have an international focus, whether that’s in in terms of physical offices, scope of representation, or their diverse client base.  

So, what does this mean for law firm leaders and how can law firm leaders navigate the geopolitical tides and domestic politics? To proactively safeguard their firms and chart a course through these turbulent waters, there are several essential steps that law firm leaders can take.  

  1. Continuous self-education and awareness are paramount. Leaders must stay well-informed about the shifting policy landscapes in which their firms and clients operate. This can be accomplished through deliberate self-study and continuous dialogue with key stakeholders and clients. 
  2. Law firms must reexamine and reaffirm their core values. By gaining a deep understanding of these values, law firm leaders can establish a clear vision and set of principles that guide their decisions and actions. Consistency with these values is key in messaging, decision-making, and even in considerations like office openings or closures. In this way, law firm leaders can minimize the inadvertent implications of geopolitical issues and tensions.  
  3. The formation of a trusted and skilled coalition or inner circle is essential. This can take the shape of a Chief of Staff or an in-house communications team. Such professionals can provide valuable insights and guidance in terms of identifying complex potential issues, crafting relevant messages, and ensuring consistency across all aspects of the firm’s messaging. They play a vital role in preparing law firm leaders to effectively communicate the firm’s values and successfully navigate these challenging times especially when conducting speaking engagements or meeting with outside entities.  

In summary, as the role of law firm leaders evolves to encompass a myriad of global and domestic concerns, their proactive approach, commitment to core values, and reliance on a knowledgeable support network serve as the compass guiding them through these complex waters. With these measures in place, law firm leadership can confidently tackle the challenges of our ever-changing world.  

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