Interim Managers vs. Consultants

Recently I was struggling to find a way to describe to a colleague my role as Interim Manager to law firms and how it differs from being a consultant.  I recalled an article from September 20, 2010 in Canadian HR Reporter written by Sarah Dobson, entitled: “Use of Interim Managers an escalating trend” which accurately reflects my experiences. Ms. Dobson compares the benefits of engaging an Interim Manager over a Consultant when an organization needs help to maintain daily operations, get through change or when they have a gap in resources.

 So what’s the difference between an Interim Manager and a Consultant?

Interim Managers:

  • Typically like to share and help develop people
  • Attend on a regular basis and become a familiar face
  • Contribute towards routine operational management of firm allowing partners and business owners to focus on client work
  • Are hired to execute and implement
  • Become part of the management team and firm culture, often leading the initiatives
  • Provide a stabilizing effect – keep the peace
  • Bring fresh ideas and approaches to solutions and move things forward
  • Share their knowledge and experience of other firms
  • Able to remain candid and avoid the constraints of office politics
  • Encourage and facilitate confronting issues within firm and hold people accountable
  • Provide experienced, senior management expertise on a flexible part-time basis to handle the needs of small to mid-sized firms that lack the budget for in-house staff


  • Generally only hired to make an assessment and report on it
  • Don’t typically implement and are not hands-on
  • Are not generally strong operational people, more of an advisory role
  • Often charge 2-3 times more than interim talent who are paid part or full time
  • Don’t typically  reside in your environment to appreciate the culture and daily pulse

Keeping up with today’s fast business pace is difficult.  Often in-house resources are already over-stretched just attending to client business.  This results in the day-to-day operations, such as facilities maintenance, human resources issues and administrative processes, getting put aside until it either escalates into a critical problem or until the manpower and financial resources become available to address them.

Incorporating an Interim Manager into your firm can be a cost effective way of managing these ongoing operational issues, enabling lawyers and their staff to get on with practicing law.