Future of the Law Firm

Altman Weil recently released their “Law Firms in Transition” survey, which is now in its tenth year. The survey, which includes responses from half of US law firms with 50 or more lawyers, was initially developed as a response to the 2008 recession, to help firms understand how other firms were reacting to the marketplace and the challenges being presented. As its authors state, “We sought to provide clear, credible information that would facilitate law firm planning and operational decision making.” After a decade of change, the survey emphasizes three important concepts, which dovetail nicely with our recent discussions on the law firm of the future, and particularly the idea that the future is happening NOW
Continue Reading Law Firm Leaders: It’s Time to Act with Urgency

We’ve had a lot of discussion over the past several years about what the future of legal services will look like, and what critical characteristics and ideas will be necessary for lawyers and law firms to embrace in order to operate within it successfully. Last week, we opened the conversation again with the release of HighQ’s updated eBook on SmartLaw addressing these concepts, and as we did with the first eBook, I’d like to delve a little further into what some of the other authors had to say.

Let’s kick this off with two of my favorites – Jordan Furlong and D. Casey Flaherty, who had essentially the same core message: the future is now. You may remember that this isn’t the first time we’ve addressed this concept here on Zen either – looking back to 2016 and the Altman Weil CLO study, this was already a call to action. Flaherty and Furlong are continuing to beat the drum on this too, and each has an important message for firms and their lawyers.
Continue Reading SmartLaw: The Future is NOW

Long-time readers of Zen may remember when we first started talking about the future of the law firm and the idea of “SmartLaw” in 2016, when HighQ asked the question “What do you believe lawyers and law firms need to do to prepare for the future of legal services?” Over the course of several posts, we delved into the answers of a number of industry experts, which supported the idea that clients, culture, and technology would be key.

Since then, HighQ observes that the concept of SmartLaw has evolved:

Future-focused law firms have found success putting the concept to work as they create amazing client experiences, adopt a culture of change and use technology to empower greater efficiency. Even so, as the industry continues to change, so must the SmartLaw concept.

In addition to the original three areas of focus, we now believe that firms must also prioritise data and process. Together, these five pillars of clients, culture, technology, data and process create SmartLaw 2.0. These key areas will be critical to the success of firms in the future.”

Bearing these pillars in mind, HighQ asked a number of experts again, “What do you believe lawyers and law firms need to do to prepare for the future of legal services?”
Continue Reading SmartLaw: Critical to the Success of Future Law Firms

A few years ago while traveling, I had the opportunity to read an article about how private labels in grocery stores were gaining traction against national brands. While the article isn’t available online anymore, the story offers some interesting food for thought (no pun intended) for the legal industry and the way that law firms are tackling the challenges presented by the current marketplace.

The article focused on the Publix Brand Challenge, which still takes place today:

Several times a year, the Publix Super Markets chain in the Southeast pits three to five of its store-brand products against their national-brand equivalents…If customers buy one of the featured national-brand products, they’ll get the Publix store-branded version for free. ‘Buy theirs, get ours free,’ the ad trumpets. ‘We think you’ll prefer Publix.’”


Continue Reading Differentiation Builds Unique Relationships with Your Clients

Legal directories have been both valuable, and a source of frustration, for lawyers and in-house counsel alike. Recently, a new directory appeared on the scene, threatening to disrupt what we’ve all been accepting for the last several decades – Top 3 Legal. In today’s guest post from founder Gareth Stephenson, learn more about the platform, and what makes it unique from other traditional directories.

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Top 3 Legal (www.top3legal.com) launched last month alongside some compelling market research.  Their key finding was that clients instruct new lawyers based on peer-to-peer recommendations 8x more than they use traditional legal directories.  This desire of in-house counsel to collaborate and pool experiences is also reflected in the proliferation of in-house counsel networks.
Continue Reading If you knew how clients choose new lawyers would you engage differently with legal directories?

Today, we’re bringing you a special guest post from the folks at Legal Gateway, who are looking at the changing legal industry. In-house lawyers: this one’s for you, but it’s equally essential for our outside counsel readers to dive into this one. This was originally published on Plexus.

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“As CEOs plan their strategies to take advantage of transformational shifts,” the consultancy PWC suggests in their annual survey of CEOs “they are assessing their current capabilities – and finding that everything is fair game for reinvention.”  Most legal functions continue to cling outdated operating models with no transformation plan. They do so at their peril.
Continue Reading Legal Transformation: The new playbook

“It’s a community, it’s a movement.”

These were among the closing words from Mary O’Carroll, the Head of Legal Operations at Google and CLOC board member, as the first CLOC EMEA Institute wrapped up last week. And for those of us in attendance, you could certainly feel the energy. It was not unlike what we saw at the CLOC Institute in Las Vegas in April.

“There’s so much passion here!” was a phrase you’d hear a lot throughout the day, and it was not misspoken. CLOC is a young organization, but in the last two years, the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium has grown tremendously and is creating a tidal wave of enthusiasm and change throughout not only legal ops, but the legal industry itself. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll delve deeper into a couple of the sessions that I attended at the conference, but for now, I wanted to leave you with a couple of important things. 
Continue Reading CLOC is a Community, a Movement

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”