Kent Zimmermann is one of the leading strategic advisors to law firm leaders in the United States. He has been called “an exceptional presenter” who is “the definition of value.”
He is the co-author, with John E. Morris, of the leading book on law firm mergers and other combinations titled Law Firm Mergers: Lessons from Successful Strategic Combinations, published by Globe Law and Business of London.
He has advised on many of the most high-profile law firm mergers and other combinations over the past decade. Last year, he advised on two of the three largest combinations of US law firms that were announced. He is presently advising on multiple active merger discussions involving Am Law 50, 100, 200, Global 100, and smaller specialty and regional firms.
He is also presently advising a group of Global 25 firms on updating and achieving their growth strategies. In addition, he is engaged on an ongoing basis by a group of Global 100 and 200 firms as a trusted advisor to their chairs and senior leadership teams.
With more than two decades of relevant experience, Kent is valued for his well-informed and sophisticated understanding of the evolving legal market and inside knowledge of the strategies, cultures, and best practices of high-performing law firms. He routinely counsels and provides insights to industry leaders on the challenges and opportunities they face as a result of the consolidation, specialization, segmentation and globalization of the legal services market. This work often involves advising firms on paths to market leadership and strategies of high-performing firms to address gaps with peers and aspirational peers in balancing scale, quality, financial performance and culture. As part of this work, he also conducts one-on-one interviews with chief legal officers, managing directors, and business unit heads at market-leading Fortune 500 and global companies.
Kent speaks at about 25 law firm retreats and leadership meetings annually and publishes regularly. At the invitation of contributing editor and Harvard Law School Fellow Heidi K. Gardner, he co-authored a chapter on law firm merger best practices in Leadership for Lawyers: Essential Leadership Strategies for Law Firm Success, Volume Two (Globe Law and Business Ltd.).
Kent also serves as a Law.com fellow, contributes to The American Lawyer, and has appeared as a legal analyst on CNN Headline News, Fox News, and The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Live. His insights have also been featured by Bloomberg, CNBC, Law360, and Reuters.
Before joining Zeughauser Group, Kent was one of three equity partners who developed a small startup, Hubbard One, into one of the fastest-growing private companies in North America. He eventually led the sale of the business to the public company now known as Thomson Reuters. Subsequently, Kent was appointed chief executive and led the turnaround of New York-based West Legalworks, a unit of Thomson Reuters.
Kent is originally from Connecticut. He graduated with honors from Washington University in St. Louis and earned his J.D. from Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law. He lives in Newport Coast, California with his family. He is on the board of the Children’s Research Fund of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Law firm combinations
- Collaborates with firm leadership to develop and build consensus around expansion strategies to accelerate achievement of the firm’s vision
- Conducts market analysis and builds consensus among key partners around criteria that a candidate firm would have to meet
- Develops a list of relevant candidate firms and facilitates meetings with firm leaders
- Prepares clients for meetings with candidate firms by supplying relevant data and assisting in identifying and articulating the value proposition of the potential combined firm
- Formally or informally facilitates merger discussions, manages the due diligence process, analyzes data that is exchanged, advises on and develops solutions to bridge performance and other gaps between the firms, and advises on internal and external communications to achieve the firm’s objectives
- Advises on realizing the benefits of the combination through client interviews and leveraging cross-servicing and cross-selling opportunities in the combined firm
Strategic planning and implementation
- Conducts firmwide, practice, industry sector team, and office strategic planning, often involving partner interviews, client interviews, strategic planning working sessions, and partner retreats
- Develops written strategic plans
- Participates in and leads strategic review sessions at the senior leadership team level to confirm or update strategic growth priorities
- Undertakes strategic research, including benchmarking of peer and aspirational peer firms on compensation, governance, expense management, and other topics relevant to strategy
- Analyzes data about firms, peer firms, and aspirational peer firms to identify opportunities to improve financial and operational performance
Retreats and ongoing guidance
- Designs, facilitates, and speaks at meetings and retreats for partners, practice groups, industry sector teams, and leadership teams
- Benchmarks against peers and aspirational peers the performance of the firm from a financial and client perspective
- Provides periodic formal and informal consultations on management issues
- Reviews and provides assessments of data about the firm's performance and benchmarks it against peer and aspirational peer firms
- Assists with identifying growth opportunities as the competitive landscape for talent and clients evolves
- Shares and provides analysis of market data and best practices relevant to strategic decisions
- Acts as a sounding board for/coaches chairs, managing partners, and other firm leaders
- Serves as an extension of the firm’s leadership and strategy team
- Advising on successfully completed mergers and other combinations, including for
- 60-lawyer Chicago firm that combined with an Am Law 200 firm
- 70-lawyer Houston firm that combined with an Am Law 100 firm
- Multiple IP boutiques that combined with Am Law 100 firms
- Multiple Am Law 100 firms that combined with other Am Law 100 firms
- Multiple Am Law 200 firms that combined with Am Law 100 firms
- Global 100 UK firm that combined with an Am Law 100 firm
- Strategic planning for
- Multiple Global 25 law firms (firmwide)
- Multiple Global 25 law firms (practice groups)
- Multiple Am Law 50 law firms (firmwide)
- Multiple Am Law 100 law firms (firmwide)
- Multiple Am Law 200 law firms (firmwide)
- Multiple regional and boutique law firms
- Exclusive collaboration with a distinguished professor at Harvard Business School on research about best practices of high-performing law firms
- Development and launch of client service interview programs for three Global 15 law firms and other Am Law 100 and Am Law 200 law firms
"Thanks for all the help through this process. We would not have gotten here in the time we did without you." —Executive Committee Member, Am Law 200 law firm
"You have been an exceptional counselor for me in this management journey." —Chair, Am Law 10 law firm
"You really set a high standard when it comes to client service." —Chief Operating Officer, Am Law 100 law firm
“You are an integral part of the [firm] team and your guidance has been invaluable.” —Chair, Am Law 25 law firm
“Kent was invaluable to us.” —Chair of the Management Committee, Global 15 law firm
“You have been a great help to us in reflecting on our strengths and challenges. Your presentation today was another example of the value of our relationship.” —Executive Committee Chair, Global 15 law firm
“To say you were well received and highly regarded would be understatements.” —Executive Committee Member, nationally preeminent specialty law firm
"You bring a tremendous amount of credibility to the process. We appreciate your efforts and advice; you make us look good.” —Vice Chair, Am Law 200 law firm
“It takes some smarts to do this. And they hired you to do it, which shows they are brilliant.” —General Counsel, Fortune 10 company
“You are a great listener.” —Management Committee Chair, Am Law 25 law firm
“You are the definition of value. I relish opportunities to work with you.” —Chief Marketing Officer, Am Law 100 law firm