Future of the Law Firm

This fall, ILN members will have the good fortune to participate in a webinar with Pamela Cone, founder and CEO of Amity Advisory. Pam is speaking on the global movement behind corporate social responsibility and sustainability for law firms, and why firms should care, and in advance of that, I’ll be sharing some guest posts with you that may aid in your own efforts. Here is the third and final post in our series.

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How does your social impact program rate? Globally, firms are finding that prospects and clients, as well as employees and recruits expect them to take their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability programs to a new level. These stakeholders expect you to show that you have a holistic, strategic social impact plan with measurable results.
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This fall, ILN members will have the good fortune to participate in a webinar with Pamela Cone, founder and CEO of Amity Advisory. Pam is speaking on the global movement behind corporate social responsibility and sustainability for law firms, and why firms should care, and in advance of that, I’ll be sharing some guest posts with you that may aid in your own efforts. Here is the second in our series.

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You might be surprised to learn what your clients expect from you. A growing number of companies have signed on to the United Nations Global Compact—more than 12,000 in 165 countries. They’re committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and they expect vendors and suppliers to also commit toward a more just and sustainable world.  Yes, this includes law firms and other professional service providers.
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This fall, ILN members will have the good fortune to participate in a webinar with Pamela Cone, founder and CEO of Amity Advisory. Pam is speaking on the global movement behind corporate social responsibility and sustainability for law firms, and why firms should care, and in advance of that, I’ll be sharing some guest posts with you that may aid in your own efforts.

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The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The Goals interconnect and in order to leave no one behind, it ís important that we achieve each Goal and target by 2030.”  (www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/)

The world is changing and so is the way we must do business.
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While being interviewed for a podcast yesterday morning, the host asked me what I saw as the primary trend for the future of law firms. Although my answer is simple, the work behind it is not – collaboration.

We’ve talked about Heidi Gardner’s book, Smart Collaboration, before (and I again highly recommend reading it). One of the things Gardner addresses in the book is the barriers to collaboration. I’m sure many of these will be familiar to you, and that she’s so adept at identifying them should give you comfort that she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to why collaboration is so essential and useful to law firms and lawyers. Let’s examine a few of these, and how you may overcome them within your own firms or law firm networks to achieve better collaborative results.
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In our discussions over the last few years about the future of the law firm, the one thing that has become abundantly clear is that for lawyers and firms to be successful, they will have to learn to collaborate effectively and efficiently. In her book, Heidi Gardner calls this “Smart Collaboration.” I had the chance to see Gardner present at the CLOC conference in February, and recently finished her book, and I can’t recommend it enough – for anyone in professional services looking to be successful over the next ten years, this is a must-read.

Gardner looks at collaboration from a few distinct viewpoints, and makes the case for it in a variety of ways. The one that strikes me initially is her final chapter, in which she discusses collaboration from the point of view of the client. Clients are deeply committed to the idea of collaboration, but obviously, they want to make sure that they’re paying for good value. Not surprisingly, collaboration is good for both the firm and the client. I’m not going to go into the reasons why your firm should be investing in the idea of smart collaboration (think better success in the war for talent/clients; doing higher value work more efficiently and effectively; being a differentiator, etc.) but instead, I want to look at the reasons why collaboration adds value for your clients, and specifically, how members of a law firm network can use their membership to effectively communicate this value and enhance their collaborative skills. 
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Following on our last post about Steve Harmon’s trends to watch in legal, I wanted to share some of his other key takeaways from his session at the CLOC Institute in London. Each of these takeaways, while directed at the legal operations audience, is relevant throughout the legal industry and are key driving factors for how we’ll be able to achieve change.

Collaboration Drives Success

We’ve focused on this idea previously, and it was a strong theme throughout the CLOC institute. True, smart collaboration can feel unfamiliar, and a bit uncomfortable in the legal profession, but there are strong business cases for it (we’ll get into those in a bit more detail when we discuss Heidi Gardner’s session on collaboration). Harmon said that legal operations professionals aren’t “stewards of process, but drivers of results.” Having the best process isn’t a differentiator if it’s not tied to business results (this is true within law firms as well). Because of that, it’s possible to share best practices without impacting differentiation or competition. That’s also true across the legal industry, and is a call for more, and not less, collaboration.
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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.
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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.
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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. 
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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? 
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