There’s been a lot of chatter over the last few years about the "new normal" for law firms, and what that might mean.  Yesterday, I was reading an interesting article at Above the Law, which addressed the idea that the new normal is a lot like the "old normal" (making the boom time an aberrance and not the other way around). 

While that part was enlightening (and I recommend reading the article in full), what I found most useful were the lessons that the author felt we’d learned over the past four years and advice for BigLaw firms in dealing with the new normal.  We all recognize that BigLaw and mid-sized firms are different, but in this case, the advice are very much the same for both. We’ve been hearing it again and again, so it’s definitely time to start making some changes (if you haven’t already), to remain competitive. 


Continue Reading Mid-sized firms and How to Adjust to the “New Normal”

Yesterday, we began our recap of the Contract Lawyers & Outsourcing webinar with Tim Corcoran and Kevin Colangelo. Today, we continue the discussion. 

Who is Doing this Successfully, and How?

Tim said that one of the challenges he’s heard from law firms about outsourcing is that their work is unique, their firm is unique, and as such, their work is hard to routinize and find a common way to deliver the services. So he asked Kevin to comment on how others who have done this have found that there are practices that can be improved through this approach – and not just the low-end, simple document reviews, but some high end work as well. 

Kevin said that they analyze the tasks going on within a law firm, legal department our sourcing department to see what can be disaggregated. Those that they’ve been able to disaggregate, they rebuild in a very process-heavy, documented environment. This extends outside of just outsourcing – firms can understand both how they get their work done and improve the way they’re doing it with the people that they’re using. This blends into not only the way that clients want their firms to do the work, but also how the firm itself wants to be operating. 


Continue Reading ILN Webinar Series – Contract Lawyers & Outsourcing Part II

Yesterday, we began with the first part of Tim Corcoran’s webinar on the strategic role of alternative fee arrangements. After Tim’s elephant analogy, he gave the attendees a short economics lesson. Using a graph with two parallel arrows, Tim said that essentially, we charge a rate that is higher than our cost to deliver. Price needs to be higher than the cost, and profit is derived from the difference between the cost and the price. 

But law firms do a poor job of calculating costs – other than their overhead and real estate, they don’t know the cost of the delivery of their legal services. 

So the challenge is, as we saw in the recent downturn when there was downward price pressure, because we haven’t fundamentally changed our delivery costs, our profit turns to loss. In the first part of the webinar, Tim had talked about the inevitable movement from premium and strategic to commodity, meaning that clients will pay less for something over time. That’s what we’re seeing – clients are refusing to pay for work that they believe doesn’t have the same value it once had, but law firms who have not adapted their cost structure for this are experiencing loss. 


Continue Reading ILN Webinar Series – Alternative Fee Arrangements Part II

Part II of our Business of Law webinar series with Tim Corcoran took place in November, but things have been so hectic with travel and hurricanes and holidays that I’m only just getting to the recap! So without further ado…

The topic of the second webinar was the strategic role of alternative fee arrangements, which was a natural sequel to the first session on legal project management. Tim re-emphasized that the industry has changed, and we need to adapt to the changing times. 


Continue Reading ILN Webinar Series – Alternative Fee Arrangements Part I

Last week, we had the first part of our recap from Tim Corcoran’s excellent webinar on Legal Project Management. Today, I bring you the second half, which covers: 

  • Legal Project Management (LPM): Concepts – should they be embraced or avoided? Is LPM a friend, an enemy or a frenemy?
  • Process improvement versus LPM: Two different disciplines, though they are related.
  • LPM 2.0: The advanced level of LPM. 


Continue Reading ILN Webinar Series – An Introduction to Legal Project Management Part II