Future of the Law Firm

Around this time last year, HighQ posed this question to a number of legal industry leaders:

What do you believe lawyers and law firms need to do to prepare for the future of legal services?”

This resulted in an interesting and in-depth e-book that delved into a variety of answers, many of which overlapped and all of which challenged us to be and do better. Although the pace of the legal industry tends towards the glacial, I am curious, a year later, to learn how everyone believes we’re progressing, and whether with an increasing focus on AI, a shift in the way we believe legal services themselves will be practiced and transmitted to the next generations of lawyers, and even the entities that are delivering those services, what we now believe lawyers and law firms should be doing to prepare. I suspect that the majority of us (and data reflects this) will say that change is not some far off idea in the future – it is NOW. But that means both that there are things that lawyers and law firm should be doing at present to accommodate the shifting legal landscape in order to remain competitive, and preparations that they will be making in the future – and it’s both of those things I’m interested in hearing about from all of you. 
Continue Reading Back to the Future…Law Firm

Artificial Intelligence: the number one topic for discussion among my lawyers when we ask them about future and current trends in the legal industry. Or as they like to refer to it, “technology.”

While a few people are still talking about it like it’s something that’s going to happen or will affect us in the future, the majority have accepted that AI is already here. Whether they’ve adopted certain pieces of it (see this discussion we had earlier in 2017 on AI), or they’re still trying to figure out what it means for their firm, there are some standard questions and ideas that law firms, lawyers, and other legal professionals should become comfortable with, if you’re not already.

To aid in this process, the Legal Marketing Association has been providing some additional resources on AI, and brought together some of the top minds in LMA to host a Twitter chat last week on the “Next Big Thing: Artificial Intelligence.” While I’d argue that it’s more just “The Big Thing” since it’s already here and being adopted by firms, and more importantly, their clients, the discussion was a robust one, with some excellent food for thought. The following is my summary of the discussion. 
Continue Reading Artificial Intelligence: What Law Firms Need to Know

I’m excited to bring you a guest post today from Wendy Merrill, who classifies herself as the Chief Rainmaker, Dot-Connector, and Growth Engineer at StrategyHorse Consulting Group. Wendy reached out to me a couple of months ago on LinkedIn, and when we talked on the phone, we connected right away, so I’m sure you will all find her to be as smart and forward-thinking as I do. In her post, she’s jumping into a sensitive topic that many of us tiptoe around in legal, but should be tackling head-on, that of succession planning.

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Succession planning is a frequent subject in partner meetings, as well as a bit of a hot potato.
Continue Reading Modern Succession Planning: Sustainability is in the “Heir”

Most of us are familiar with a typical referral – a lawyer that you’ve built up a relationship with who has need of your practice expertise or a client with work in your jurisdiction will call you up and ask for your assistance. At times, they will pass your name directly to their client to contact you directly. In either scenario, it is a one-to-one relationship from one party to another.

This is the way that many firms outside of, and sometimes inside of, law firm networks view the referral concept and on which they were founded. Networks were developed to build cohesive, collaborative environments that foster the strong relationships that make these referrals possible. Globalization in the legal market in the late 1980s and beyond required either this model, or mergers with larger firms, or firms opening offices in overseas’ markets. 
Continue Reading Driving Collaboration: Beyond the Traditional Referral for Mid-Sized Firms

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 hear an awful lot about it, but it can be challenging to know where to start.

There are companies jumping into the space from other industries, disrupting the status quo and throwing out the old ways of doing things. Clients like them, and they should. They’re more efficient, they bring fresh ideas, and they force those of us who’ve been here a while to sit up and pay attention. But obviously, there’s room for us too. We know this place the best, after all. Some argue that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and in many ways that will be true (client service, good solid legal advice, etc.). But let’s not let that argument be an excuse to avoid taking a hard look at ourselves and the ways that we can do better (remember the Stockdale Paradox?). 
Continue Reading Practical Steps for Undertaking Change in Legal

The legal industry is in the midst of challenging and exciting times. To many firms, so much change and uncertainty may feel like a bit of a crisis, while others see it as more of an opportunity. Regardless of how you see it, it’s certainly a time of upheaval.

I have finally gotten around to reading Jim Collins’ “Good to Great” which has been lounging on my bookshelf for the better part of several years. While there are many lessons in the book that firms looking to become “great” should take to heart, there was one observation that the authors made that really struck me as relevant for firms in today’s marketplace – the Stockdale Paradox.

Collins observes that every “good to great” company they examined in the course of the book’s research had faced “significant adversity.” The difference between those companies who became great, and those companies who didn’t is what Collins refers to as the “Stockdale Paradox.”
Continue Reading Great Law Firms Will Embrace the Stockdale Paradox

Four years ago, we were talking about the “new normal” for law firms. It’s almost comical to believe that we’re still talking about it as if it’s new. It’s not.

Even at that time, Above the Law was telling us that the new normal was really more of the “old normal,” though if we’re honest, there is a lot to show that it really is more new than anything else. But that being said, Above the Law’s advice from four years ago still manages to hold true today. Many firms move at a glacial pace, so we can still be learning and adjusting based on their suggestions (which is a bit scary, but let’s just go with it). 
Continue Reading Three Essential Lessons for the New “New” Normal at Law Firms

“Change or die.”

How many times have you heard that over the last eight years?

A friend of mine in the legal industry pointed that out to me recently, along with commenting that it always sounds so dire. And it does sound dire.

But after the statistics that we covered in a recent post (1/3 of clients are openly dissatisfied with their outside counsel, chief legal officers rank firms at a 3 on a 1 to 10 scale for commitment to change, and clients are moving their legal work to other firms or to non-firm vendors), it would seem that we should be properly incentivized to speed up the pace of change. From the Peer Monitor/Georgetown 2016 Report on the State of the Legal Market, which cautioned BigLaw against a “Kodak moment”
Continue Reading What’s Holding us Back from Real Change in Legal?

Change - Speedometer Races to RevolutionAt the recent CLOC Institute, Connie Brenton, CLOC President & CEO, along with Chief of Staff/Director of Legal Operations for NetApp gave us a challenge:

Stop thinking about how we can fit into the world around us. Start thinking about how we can change the world around us.”

For many of us, that change has started with sharing what we heard at CLOC with our own corners of the legal ecosystem, and keeping that drumbeat for change sounding. While I plan to recap some of the key sessions I attended, I first wanted to share with you some of the excellent articles that have come out following the conference, which should be further galvanizing the legal industry.
Continue Reading Change is Not Just a Six Letter Word: CLOC Urges Lawyers to Put Ideas in Action

clem-onojeghuo-122041Any time you pick your head up from the daily work you’re doing in the legal industry, “change” is the drumbeat that you hear.

Nowhere was that more apparent to me than at last week’s CLOC Institute – for those of you who aren’t familiar with CLOC, it’s the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium. They’re a relatively new group in the industry, bringing together legal operations professionals for networking, education, to share best practices, and really, to drive change. But they’re more than just legal ops – in fact, their mission states quite clearly that this drive for change involves working with “other core corporate legal industry players” in addition to legal operations professionals. Their goal is to “optimize the legal service delivery models needed by small, medium and large legal departments to support their clients,” and they recognize that this can only be done together. 
Continue Reading CLOC: Change is a Drumbeat