Future of the Law Firm

We’re a few weeks out now from the CLOC (Corporate Legal Operations Consortium) Institute in London, and I’m finally jumping into some recaps. There was some truly excellent content during the conference, and not just for legal operations folks, but with transferable lessons for everyone in the legal industry. Over the next few weeks, I’ll dive into a few of the sessions and look at what we discussed, starting with Steve Harmon’s presentation on the Evolving Role of the Corporate Legal Department & the Implications for Legal Operations Teams. Harmon is the Deputy General Counsel at Cisco and General Counsel at Elevate, and a CLOC board member.
Continue Reading Five Legal Industry Trends to Watch

I’m bringing you a treat today, Zen readers! A post from the ILN’s own Jenn Smuts – and it’s a good one. Prepare to get uncomfortable and start asking yourself the hard questions.

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Last week Lindsay asked the Zen audience about whether they were still feeling inspired with the arrival of the new year, then she afforded us three “inspiration” ideas.  This post is going to take her ideas: reading, writing and thinking, and elaborate on one goal – leveraging women in the profession.
Continue Reading Leveraging Women in Legal – What’s Your Scorecard?

We’ve discussed the idea of change extensively here on Zen, and although it’s a long time coming in the legal industry, there are pockets of exciting innovation. One such pocket is the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium, or CLOC, which has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years (as in 40 members to 1800 members in 3 years). One of CLOC’s core tenets is bringing together the ENTIRE legal ecosystem in order to achieve real, systemic change, and that’s a tenet I can really get behind.

Last week, I had the pleasure to join their CIO/Cybersecurity Initiative task force, and it got me thinking about what’s really necessary for collaboration in the legal ecosystem (and other professional services industries, for that matter). I’d like to share with you my three tips that I saw in action during this CLOC meeting that you can implement today in your firms as you seek to ride the wave of change. 
Continue Reading Lawyers: Collaboration Drives Your Success. Here’s How to Do it

This post was originally published in Legal Business World on November 5, 2018

It’s no secret that the legal market is a challenging place to be today.

Mergers, non-law firm players, clients continuing to take work in-house, increasing investment in technology, changing demands from different generations…the list goes on.

With a staggering number of reasons in front of us for why change is imperative, what’s holding lawyers back? And what steps can we take to face these challenges head on? 
Continue Reading Breaking Down the Barriers to Change

A question I get ALL the time is whether using social media actually has any impact at all on referrals and business development.

Actually, the way it typically goes is this:

Come on, really. Tell me. Does anyone get matters or referrals because they post to LinkedIn?”

The short answer is yes, sometimes, it does happen. But it’s really atypical. Anyone who tells you that lawyers need to be using social media because clients see them there and hire them there is selling you something. But it IS part of a bigger picture, and as part of that picture, it’s essential. 
Continue Reading Referrals and First Impressions: How Technology Has Changed Them

“Innovation” is a buzzword that gets thrown around a lot these days, right up there with “disruption.” It sounds like something that’s foreign in the legal industry, but it shouldn’t be. Believe it or not, we, too, can be innovative.

If you’ve been following along here for a while, you may know that I have a section of my bookshelf that’s dedicated to business books on my “to read” list – I love to read, but I’d rather pick up a mystery and plow through it than bury my nose into what feels like a textbook. But when I do, I’m more often than not pleasantly surprised by the inspiration that it affords me, and the comfort that it gives me in following some of my own plans and ideas moving forward. One such book is Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup (not new to many of you, I’m sure). I’m about halfway through this book that promises to show me how “today’s entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses.”

“But law firms aren’t startups and lawyers are entrepreneurs,” I can hear you saying.

What if we were? 
Continue Reading Three Truths About Innovating for Radical Success

If you’re a regular reader of Zen, you know that I’m a big fan of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC). They’re working to revolutionize the legal industry, and engage all facets of it to do so.

One of the ways that legal departments excel and law firms majorly lag behind is with tracking metrics. While the law is indeed a very specialized set of skills, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to track the data that matters. We’ve heard a lot of calls from law departments over the last few years, demanding that their firms institute more tracking, and many firms are doing this to a greater or lesser degree. A huge part of legal operations is managing and understanding data, so that CLOs can identify areas of inefficiency as more pressure comes down from above. 
Continue Reading Metrics isn’t a Dirty Word – What you can Learn from CLOC

In our most recent post, we broke down the art of persuasion, and looked at the styles for change that you may be seeing within your firm. I should also add that there’s really a fourth style too, and that’s the belief that no change is necessary – I didn’t cover this in any depth, and won’t, because the group that believes no change is necessary is unlikely to change their minds any time soon, and it’s not worth the investment of your time to try to force them to. At some point, they’ll either retire, or self-select out, and you’ll be left with the remaining three categories, all of which you can successfully work with.

So what are some practical things you can do when implementing change? As you’re getting started, I heartily recommend doing some research for support – one of the books I read that gave me some great food for thought was Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization. I am naturally drawn to any book that helps me to identify ways to better engage my lawyers in the relationships that drive their business, so this was a perfect fit, and a smart read. There’s a lot to it, so I’ll encourage you to read the entire book and I won’t dive too deeply into it today, but there are two key principles I’d like to touch on for what will help bring about effective change in your firm.
Continue Reading Practical Steps for Motivating Change in Your Law Firm

Change can be intimidating.

Whether you find it exciting or not, even those of us who are the most adept at it can find it daunting and exhausting. In the legal industry, where change is historically slow, when it happens at all, it can be even more overwhelming. We’ve been talking an awful lot about it lately, and in light of what was revealed in the recent Altman Weil study, that there seems to be some “change fatigue” brought about by the challenges of shifting the thinking in your firm, it makes sense to start any discussion about change by talking about the people.

Mark Beese, President of Leadership for Lawyers LLC, recently shared some critical leadership skills, focusing on three styles for change, and how to persuade each of the groups that comprise these styles. His ideas help to set the stage for how each of us can help work within our own firms and organizations to help face the current trends head on.
Continue Reading Addressing Barriers to Change in Your Firm: People

Continuing our discussion about SmartLaw and the future of the legal industry, which hopefully we can all say with some degree of comfort is here NOW, let’s consider another major theme of HighQ’s recent eBook – the intersection of technology and people. This idea is one that we touched on during our last series on the future of law, and it will continue to be a hot topic. As we seem to be in the midst of an almost technological revolution, with exciting new advances happening daily, it can seem very real that maybe robots will replace lawyers.

But many of the contributing authors (and I would wholeheartedly agree with them) take an alternative view – while technology will become increasingly important in the practice of law, it will not replace lawyers. Nor will lawyers have to be programmers any time soon – though my decision to major in computer science is looking more and more fortuitous as time goes on. Will many jobs and roles change? Of course, but that was the case with the advent of the telephone and email, and as those technologies improved too. Telephone operators used to be essential in order to place a call, and now you have a device that you can hold in your hand with which to place a call directly – operators lost their jobs, but other jobs were created as well by expanding technologies.

If we’re embracing the idea that change is afoot, what does that really look like, per the authors in the eBook? What are our opportunities and challenges? 
Continue Reading Future Law Firms: The Perfect Marriage of Technology and People