JordanFurlong + firms   733

In Law Firms, 'Caste System' Persists Among Attorneys and Business Professionals | The American Lawyer
In some firms, the separation between lawyers and staff is literal: Katten Muchin Rosenman’s largest office in Chicago had two separate cafeterias, with the majority of staff barred from eating in the attorney dining room.

“It made me feel worthless, that what I offer means nothing to you, and that you don’t care about me,” said a former Katten business professional.

Katten did not return a request for comment.


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Nearly every law firm professional has a war story: a thrown stapler, ignored emails and even public shaming. Professionals find themselves constantly scrambling to justify their presence, and just one mistake—even a small PowerPoint typo—can erase all the goodwill.

Park remembers being publicly shamed by a senior partner after submitting the wrong version of a Chambers and Partners entry. After privately emailing the partner to point out the mistake, he berated her in an email sent to all the partners in the firm.

“If you’re a legal professional trying to earn respect from your partners, that’s how they destroy it,” said Park, who left the legal industry in 2017. “You can’t say anything; you can’t do anything. You just have to take it.”

Many say the unequal treatment exacerbates the already stressful environment within Big Law firms, leading to mental health concerns among staff.
firms  culture  staff 
2 days ago by JordanFurlong
Organizing for Innovation, #ILTACon19 Live - Prism Legal
F&R. No formal innovation program. Initial IT department at Fish was too complicated. Two years ago, long-standinutg CIO retired. Beau proposed separating infrastructure from “Legal Technology Solutions”. Made a conscious decision not to use the word innovation because everyone at the firm innovates. This group has 25 people; it includes about one-dozen developers, who build a lot of custome applications, and regularly interact with client. The client interaction is new in last year or two and is very successful. Will re-org again to align more with practices and client services.
innovation  firms 
2 days ago by JordanFurlong
LeClairRyan’s Early Plans for Outside Investment Came Too Soon
According to several former attorneys at the firm who spoke to Bloomberg Law but requested anonymity to preserve relationships at LeClairRyan, the firm made attempts under its old leadership to break the traditional firm mold. But it appears to have made these moves prematurely, anticipating innovations, like the regulatory acceptance of nonlawyer investment in firms, that have still not come to fruition.
firms  innovation  collapse 
6 days ago by JordanFurlong
Fish & Richardson Legal Tech Director on Why His Group Split With IT | Legaltech News
Legaltech News: Why was the legal technology solutions group spun off from Fish & Richardson’s IT department?

Beau Mersereau: We wanted to focus primarily on new technologies and innovative services, and bifurcating it allowed us to focus on the areas that were important to our clients. That also allowed the IT department to focus on technology and providing better services to our firm with less distractions.

What are some of the new solutions the group is developing? 

We are piloting machine learning to auto-classify documents or incoming mail from the Patent and Trademark Office that will allow us to route mail automatically to the appropriate teams. Eventually, we hope to start doing other things from auto-classifying time cards to having better data within our pricing group.

We hired a data scientist this year and he’s been helping us a lot. He used to be an astrophysicist, and it’s pretty interesting to have someone from a different field looking at our data and trying to understand it. Law firms have a lot of data and it’s not always easy to find the nuggets of good information in there.
it  firms  strategy 
9 days ago by JordanFurlong
Big Law 'App Store' Reynen Court Offically Launches, Announces Elevate Partnership | Legaltech News
Alternative legal services provider Elevate has partnered with legal tech platform Reynen Court, as the company officially launches today (August 15). 
Reynen Court’s aim is to provide law firms with a single platform to install, use and manage the abundance of legal tech products available to firms from various vendors—similar, in theory, to creating an “App Store” for legal tech.

Reynen Court was established last year, supported by 19 law firms with backers including Latham & Watkins, Clifford Chance and Paul Weiss.
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The company has now launched the platform, with Elevate agreeing to make three of its technologies available on Reynen Court’s legal tech app. These three products include a legal AI and document analytics platform called ContraxSuite; legal project management app, Cael Project; and a billing app called Cael BillPrep.

Elevate VP of software products Sharath Beedu said in a statement: “In essence, it’s a private, curated ‘app store’ where products are pre-packaged for easy installation within each firm’s respective IT environment. This enables firms to try new systems without using third-party cloud environments, which is prohibited by many of their clients.”

U.S.-based Reynen Court told The American Lawyer last October that it was looking to use its law firm backing to officially launch and increase its headcount in 2019 to around 40. That hiring kicked off in January, when the company hired former Davis Polk & Wardwell attorney and NY Legal Tech Meetup founder Christian Lang as head of strategy and Washington state-based lawyer Nancy Norton as general counsel.

Lang told Legaltech News at the time that Reynen Court will find what the consortium firms’ needs are and pair them with legal tech vendors, acting as a “matchmaker” of sorts. Access to cloud-based technology in particular, he said, should lead to cheaper, better and quicker access to legal services.

“I think the top firms that are in our consortium that have the resources to do this right … once they do these things, there will be a lot of implications for other firms in the market to have better access to legal,” Lang said.

“I think we are on the cusp of what could be a golden age of legal technology that can really improve lawyering and legal advice,” he added.
it  strategy  firms 
9 days ago by JordanFurlong
Being a Law Firm Partner Was Once a Job for Life. That Culture Is All but Dead. - WSJ
Four hundred of Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s top lawyers gathered in May at an oceanfront resort in Southern California to toast another banner year.

Kirkland was the highest-grossing law firm in the world for the second year running, earning $3.76 billion in revenue. When a slide flashed on the screen, showing the value of the firm’s shares, the partners in the room quickly did the math. They would be taking home $1.75 million to $15 million.

Not invited were another 560 partners, who were back at the firm’s 15 offices around the world, working. Though outwardly carrying the same title as those lounging poolside in California, they hold no equity in the firm and generally can expect to make $800,000 at most. While a comfortable living, the salary and its implied second-class status is not the reward many expected after striving to join the venerated partnership.
firms  partners 
15 days ago by JordanFurlong
'Crazy Ideas' Welcome: Inside Orrick's Plan to Build an Innovation Culture | Legaltech News
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe has worked to make innovation a fundamental part of its brand in recent years.

It can point to successes along the way: In December, The American Lawyer honored Orrick as an innovation leader at its first industry awards, citing the firm’s legal technology venture Orrick Labs. But in embracing innovation, the firm has been forced to confront the risk-aversion that’s fundamental to the practice of law.
“People are so conservative about what can be done,” said Orrick chief talent officer Siobhan Handley. Advances and breakthroughs tend to require enduring failures and embracing uncertainty—pretty much the opposite of what lawyers strive for.

“We’re rules-following individuals,” Handley said.
One strategy for trying to change the mindset of attorneys across the firm has been a program, launched last June, that allows associates 50 hours of creditable time a year towards innovation projects. Orrick isn’t alone in the idea: Reed Smith piloted a similar project in 2017 for a limited number of associates and removed a cap on the number of projects that would be approved in 2018.

While the Orrick associates interested in participating also have to put together a proposal, chief innovation officer Wendy Curtis emphasized that the bar is not high.
innovation  firms  culture 
5 weeks ago by JordanFurlong
BCLP Reboots Service Delivery Arm Following Lawyers on Demand Sale | Legaltech News
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) has reorganized its multi-pronged service delivery business, with a new entity to launch this year.

The new service, called BCLP Cubed, will integrate three arms of the firm’s delivery systems – complex legal advice, volume legal services, and legal operations support – into one.
It will be led by partner Neville Eisenberg as CEO, while chief innovation officer Katie DeBord will head the service’s product development team.

The new platform will bring together the firm’s volume delivery teams in Manchester and St. Louis, and initially be made up of 150 staff, according to Eisenberg.
He told Law.com’s Legal Week: “We plan on scaling that up and adding to that team as demand for these services grows.”

He added that the project had been under development for the last nine months and is due to formally launch in September.

Formerly a commercial litigation partner at legacy Bryan Cave, DeBord said the firms discussed how to combine their respective volume delivery teams when they merged last year.

Speaking to The American Lawyer, she said: “We found that we had all the makings for a full platform that could deliver streams of work through the life cycle of the matter.

“Clients are in a situation now where they are delegating certain work to alternative providers, and other types of work to technical providers. We said ‘Why can’t we bring that all together for clients?’”

With the implementation of BCLP Cubed, the firm aims to standardize and scale up its delivery systems in a bid to cut costs for their clients while still providing efficient high-quality services.

Eisenberg was managing partner of legacy firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) when the firm launched its alternative delivery service Lawyers on Demand (LOD) in 2007.
innovation  subsidiaries  managedlegal  flex  firms 
5 weeks ago by JordanFurlong
Eversheds Sutherland Launches Its Own ALSP With $127M Revenue Target | Legaltech News
Eversheds Sutherland is creating its own global alternative legal service provider, joining a trend among large firms with an international presence.

The firm announced Wednesday that it plans to launch a new entity to house its advisory, interim resourcing and managed service offerings, called Konexo, using existing teams in Europe and Asia. ES Agile, the firm’s flexible lawyering entity, has also been folded into the new business.
According to Eversheds Sutherland, the advisory, interim resourcing and managed service segment already accounts for £40 million, or about $50.77 million, of annual revenue. It encompasses three teams, known as ES Consulting, Corporate Secretarial and Volume Insolvency, which together saw business grow by 38% last year, according to the firm.

The goal is to continue growing that number, the firm said, to at least £100 million, or nearly $127 million, in annual revenue. Eversheds Sutherland’s global revenue for 2018, reported in February, was $1.175 billion (£900m).
“This is in response to what we’re seeing as a clear client demand,” Eversheds Sutherland co-CEO Lee Ranson said in an interview Wednesday. There was “a constant theme” in conversations with clients around using technology and moving away from the traditional legal model for “repeatable-type” legal work, he said.
newlaw  subsidiaries  managedlegal  firms  innovation 
5 weeks ago by JordanFurlong
Law firms are investing in innovation through venture capital services
Home Daily News Law firms are investing in innovation through…
PRACTICE TECHNOLOGY
Law firms are investing in innovation through venture capital services
BY ARI KAPLAN

JUNE 21, 2019, 6:30 AM CDT

   Share    


Ari Kaplan.

Ari Kaplan spoke with Alex Nwaka, a principal with Touchdown Ventures, which provides venture capital services on behalf of leading corporations.

Ari Kaplan: Tell us about your background and your role at Touchdown Ventures.

Alex Nwaka: I started my career as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley and UBS in New York City covering the energy industry, went to Columbia Business School and then spent some time at Virgin Management, Richard Branson’s family office, performing a combination of venture capital, private equity and corporate development work. After Virgin, I worked as a private equity consultant at Estee Lauder Cos. on their new business development team, helping to reorganize their M&A strategy. I joined Touchdown four and a half years ago as the first full-time hire. In the last year and a half to two years, I have focused on enterprise software and the future of professional services. Legal tech is among the categories on which I spend my time.

Ari Kaplan: How does the company’s model of providing venture capital as a service work?

Alex Nwaka: We believe in strong collaboration with our corporate partners, where each party brings a valuable perspective. Touchdown brings the venture capital expertise, which includes sourcing, diligence, deal execution, deal management, including board representation and commercial relationships, through an exit. We also handle some of the reporting and monitoring of the portfolio as well. Our corporate partners bring deep industry expertise from their vertical or the category in which they operate. Together, we make a complete team combining the VC and operating knowledge.

Ari Kaplan: What are the advantages?

Alex Nwaka: We collectively can bring significant strategic value to our portfolio companies either as customers, channel partners or as a general sounding board for go-to-market strategy and even product development in the broadest sense. We are more than just a check to the founders and entrepreneurs that we invest in. We really try to bring strategic value.

Ari Kaplan: What types of organizations are investing in legal tech?

Alex Nwaka: We are finding most often that law firms are one of the key constituencies investing in legal tech. Corporate legal departments and GCs within Fortune 500 corporations are also investing in legal tech. And, to a much lesser extent, institutional venture funds are playing around in the ecosystem as well.
innovation  firms  clementi 
5 weeks ago by JordanFurlong
Are Incubators Only For Big Law? Austrian Firms Show Collaboration Is The Answer – Artificial Lawyer
By pooling resources between seven firms, and then bringing in the support of local universities and other bodies, the law firms (see below), which include major local brands such as Dorda, Schönherr and Wolf Theiss, have been able to put together what they may not have been able to do on their own.

For example, although Dorda is a well-known and leading firm in Austria and the region, it has less than 100 lawyers in total – and devoting fee earner time to creating and running an incubator would be a strain. But, if you combine a firm of this size with the firms below, then they have the resources of a far larger business.

Although the LTHV doesn’t appear to have gone down that road yet, another opportunity here could be to pool anonymised contract data to help NLP/ML start-ups – something that Singapore is planning to do.

Overall, this collaborative approach could be a model for law firms in other parts of the world that also want to explore working directly with start-ups and scale-up legal tech companies, but that feel limited in terms of resources. 
innovation  firms  incubator  r&d  collaboration 
5 weeks ago by JordanFurlong
More Than Law: Is The Traditional Big Law Model Over? – Artificial Lawyer
But, what if a leading commercial ‘law firm’ now had to do more than law to prosper and keep clients happy? 

And, it’s worth saying that just because we now have ALSPs, LPOs, law companies and the Big Four in the market, it does not automatically mean the traditional model that has existed for centuries is over. They can all co-exist in parallel. One species’ evolution does not mean every other species has to evolve as well to survive. Nature doesn’t work like that.

Also, just because a number of law firms in the UK have become Alternative Business Structures (ABS) under the Legal Services Act and started to make a handful of other professionals into equity partners, also does not mean the trad model is over. A CFO and some accountants made into partners, or even a public listing, does not make the overall business model of a firm that different in terms of what it sells.

It’s also worth saying that the majority of the ‘true’ ABSs in the UK that are genuinely offering a wide combination of law and other professional services, such as property surveying and accounting, are very small firms. In fact, the majority of the now 100s of ABSs in the UK are very, very small, no matter what they offer. [Note: England & Wales has around 10,000 registered ‘law firms’, most under £10m in revenue.] We are talking about the largest commercial legal brands here, i.e. what is called ‘Big Law’ in the US.

The trad model is only really over when the leading firms, in growing numbers, invest significantly in offering more than law.

Also this is not about ownership structures, but rather what is made by that business and sold to the clients.
innovation  firms  business  models 
5 weeks ago by JordanFurlong
Forum Magazine: A Safe Space for Innovation — Law Firms Creating “Captive ALSPs” | Legal Executive Institute
oday’s market for alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) has become larger, quickly growing and more broadly adopted by clients looking for more nimble or lower cost options to law firms alone.

In response to clients’ needs, ALSPs are leveraging different business models, emerging in all shapes and sizes from the Big Four accounting firms to small, tech-savvy disruptors, according to a new report on the sector from Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute, in partnership with Georgetown University Law School’s Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession, the University of Oxford Saïd Business School, and legal research firm Acritas.

One of these new formations — captive ALSPs — has seen law firms seek to regain their competitive edge in the market by essentially creating in-house ALSPs that can allow the firm to pitch a wider range of services to clients and offer oversight of the work while keeping costs low. Indeed, this was the first year the report measured the impact of captive ALSPs, and it found that the new model was making “headway among law firms of all sizes in both the US and the UK.” Further, when captives are included in ALSP market totals, “the scope of the alternative legal services model and market expands significantly,” the report notes.

Lisa Hart Shepherd, CEO of Acritas, said captive ALSPs were included in the report totals this year because they’ve grown very quickly and are becoming quite commonplace within the market. “Among the large law firms, if they don’t already have an in-house ALSP, then they are looking at having one,” Hart Shepherd says. As part of the report, Acritas conducted telephone interviews with representatives of 35 ALSPs located in the US, UK, and other countries. While law firms were not willing to release the revenue or growth figures for their captive units, some noted that the units had staff that numbered in the hundreds of employees.
newlaw  subsidiaries  r&d  innovation  firms 
5 weeks ago by JordanFurlong
Firms Halted Innovation Efforts in 2018 at Their Own Risk, Report Finds | The American Lawyer
But a good year does not fundamentally alter the economics of the legal market. Seeger and Clay found that firms have relaxed in their efforts to improve legal and work processes and lower costs. Regardless of a recession, Seeger said that firms must continue to differentiate themselves from the pack or risk losing out in the long term.

“It’s still a highly competitive market. Clients are very aware that they have choices,” said Seeger. “We are advising firms to not get complacent but to focus on long-term stability and competitiveness.”

The study found that only 54% of law firm leaders say that their firm’s urgency to change is higher now than it was two years ago. And only 22% of firms made a serious effort to change work processes.

The authors wrote that it is imperative that law firms continue to value change. Firms should take a look at their legal operations—pricing, staffing, technology utilization and knowledge management—to appease clients who want to see lower legal costs, they said. Leadership development and collaboration can help reduce a culture of feet-dragging.

“As has been the case for years, law firms’ success will be driven by their ability to meet the changing requirements of the marketplace,” the authors wrote. “Firms that can craft smart, client-focused strategies and execute on them rapidly are likely to achieve competitive advantages.”

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strategy  recession  firms 
may 2019 by JordanFurlong
Data Snapshot: The Path to Big Law Equity Partnership Is Narrowing | Law.com
Data analyzed by ALM Intelligence, a division of Law.com parent company ALM, shows that among partners at firms ranking in the Am Law 100 index, the percentage of equity partners has been steadily contracting for almost two decades.
That decline comes even while many firms have seen positive financial performance. The Am Law 100’s average revenue per lawyer was up 4.2 percent in 2018 to almost $1 million—the fastest year-on-year growth since 2010. The average Am Law 100 equity partner brought in $1.88 million in profits in 2018, up 6.5 percent from the previous year.

David Altuna, a client adviser at Citi Private Bank Law Firm Group, told The American Lawyer last month that maintaining or shrinking the equity partner tier has become a trend—and that some firms are seeing an “upward lift” in profits from cutting partnership ranks.

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“I think this is just an arms race,” said Nicholas Bruch, a director and analyst at ALM Intelligence. “In the old days where most firms had collegial partnerships where all you had to do was work long enough and you got into the partnership, what that meant was that some people were being subsidized. ”

“ As soon as one or two firms decided that they weren’t going to do that, then everyone basically had to go to that world,” Bruch added.

The American Lawyer categorizes “non-equity partners” as those who receive more than half of their compensation on a fixed-income basis.
partners  firms  compensation 
may 2019 by JordanFurlong
Who Does Your Law FIrm Serve? - Adam Smith, Esq.
I said a moment ago that we worry about firms’ perseverance and diligence in executing every material element of a plan, but I wasn’t quite leveling with you.  If other priorities are expressed–greater collaboration, disinvestment in particular practice areas, more authority and accountability given to business professionals (for example)–then yes, we hope the firm will be conscientious, thorough, and determined in pursuing them, but the “clients first” bothers us in a way we’ve struggled to articulate for some time.  Now we think we have a hypothesis that might clarify this.  Here’s Part 1 of the hypothesis:

Many lawyers do not understand that they’re in a client service business.

They may, and usually do, pay it lip service, but in their core they don’t act it out.
firms  partners  clients  purpose 
may 2019 by JordanFurlong
Machine Learning-Enabled Judgment: Baker McKenzie on the Law Firm of the Future
For a global firm with 78 offices across 46 markets, these challenges are particularly acute — and we are doing a lot of work internally to come up with solutions. For example, looking at different encryption models to help with getting client data in the cloud, and longer term projects to get the enormous amount of know-how we have structured and in one place. But the issues around use of the cloud and fragmentation of legal data are tough and systemic. They are collective problems requiring collective problem-solving that draws in the full range of legal, technical, business, regulatory, and academic stakeholders and expertise.

For this reason, one of the most important pillars of our R&D program is ecosystem engagement, including through collaborative hubs we’ve launched and partnered with in key regions — such as the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco, our WhiteSpace Legal Collab in Toronto, and Europe’s first legal innovation hub ReInvent Law. We recognize that transformational change — truly disruptive innovation — requires us to ask big questions and solve challenges that are far beyond the ability of one organization to tackle alone.

So, our plan is to keep working at it and collaborating as the tech and our own capabilities evolve. But this is not just the key to getting where we and our clients want to go. The firms and lawyers who do this well, we think, are the ones who’ll succeed in the machine learning-enabled future. To us, “innovation” is not just some new product, initiative, or topic du jour. It is (and really, has to be) who we are and how we work — and from what we can tell, that never goes out of fashion.
it  firms  robo 
april 2019 by JordanFurlong
Six new BigLaw firms sign up to Reynen Court | Legal IT Insider
In a model that will ultimately succeed or fail on the number of law firms backing it, six more leading law firms have joined Reynen Court to support the development and launch of its services automation platform.  The six new members are Cleary Gottlieb; Davis Polk & Wardwell; Debevoise & Plimpton; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett; Slaughter and May and Weil Gotshal & Manges.

They bring the number of firms backing the platform that we christened the app store for legal to 18. Co-chairs Latham & Watkins and Clifford Chance have been involved from the outset alongside Paul Weiss (vice chair); Covington; Cravath, Swaine & Moore; Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Gibson Dunn; Linklaters; Orrick; Ropes & Gray; Skadden Arps; and White & Case. As we first revealed in January, Latham and Clifford Chance have each injected £2m in Series A funding.

Founded by former Cravath, Swaine & Moore associate Andrew Klein and formally launched at the end of September, Reynen Court will audit vendors and offer containerised cloud applications, enabling firms to buy and run the application in their preferred environment.

Instead of individual IT directors having to audit and worry about the security of new providers, that will become Reynen Court’s job, with the idea that it becomes an official legal app store that, once established, clients can give their blanket approval to. This sort of store will also help law firms to optimise their costs by enabling them to use applications as they need them.

The ultimate objective is that firms will be able to say they will not work with startups unless it is through Reynen Court.
consortium  firms  IT 
april 2019 by JordanFurlong
Allen & Overy Picks Four Newest Companies to Join Fuse Incubator | Legaltech News
Four legal tech companies have fought off competition to join Allen & Overy’s vaunted Fuse incubator program.
Apiax, Define, HighQ and Scissero will move into A&O’s flagship tech space in early May this year, after beating 100 applicants for this year’s round.

The companies will join Fuse veterans Avvoka, Legatics, and Nivaura, which have been in the program since it launched in September 2017. They also join fintech company Regnosys, which was selected for the second round of the program last April.
Companies to leave the program this year include Kira, which raised $50 million in its first external funding round while on the program, and Bloomsbury AI, which was purchased by Facebook in July.
incubator  it  firms  innovation 
march 2019 by JordanFurlong
Divergent Perspectives on Law Firm Innovation | Legaltech News
Such a culture is often not the norm in law firms, however. Innovation is change; an event that most times is initiated by the whip rather than the carrot. To be direct, the legal market, despite the pressures it has suffered as of late, is and has been for many years a protected market. There may be a wolf trotting toward the doorstep, but it is relatively toothless – at least at the moment. A quick look at the P3 numbers of the Am Law 200 and the perpetually rising bill rates finds a very profitable industry, which, in and of itself can create significant inertia. Along with driving the process of innovation, the pressures of the market – “natural selection” – will break that inertia and invoke cultural change. But that is a slow process. The liberalization of the US legal market would greatly speed it up, but we shouldn’t hold our collective breath.

So, where do we start to make a cultural shift? This brings us to my second lesson: while cash will always be King – i.e., it’s tough to beat the leverage that compensation asserts on behavioral changes – communication comes in a close second, particularly where the process of shifting a culture toward innovation is concerned. In an interview I did with Chip Bergh for Forbes – the turn-around CEO for a (at the time) struggling Levi Strauss & Co. – he articulated a specific communication strategy that was one of the more important tools that he used to help evolve the culture of one of the oldest and most successful brands in the world. If it worked for them, it can work for your firm, too. So, your communication strategy should be taken most seriously and not just left to flourish or wilt as a product of chance. What messages are important? How are they communicated? Who communicates them? How often? How are you measuring their impact? Etc.

Third, and perhaps the most obvious, we can see that the more complex and financially successful (and potentially more evolved) firms think about, set their cultures around and invest in innovation in particular ways. If I am a firm leader that wants to institute cultural and practical change toward more aggressive innovation (or even just a partner or associate that wants the same), I would take this to heart. While the above information articulates the market’s positions at a higher altitude, it can provide a template to begin building your own firm’s plan.
culture  innovation  firms 
march 2019 by JordanFurlong
The Next Recession Could Cost 10,000 Lawyers Their Jobs | The American Lawyer
As a looming recession approaches, a look at history, plus some judgment, can tell us a lot about how organizations will manage their lawyer numbers once it arrives. It’s a clear, disturbing and instructive tale.
Let’s start with some history. In studying the trends in U.S. lawyer head count over the last 20 years, both in-house and at major law firms, one thing jumps out: the stark difference before and after the 2008 recession. Before 2008, all segments were growing; after 2008, in-house lawyer growth accelerated while growth in law firms ground to a halt.

Why the change? A different purchasing environment has held sway at client organizations since the recession. There’s been a rejection of ever-increasing hourly rates for the commodity offerings from much of Big Law. We’ve witnessed the rise of the ambidextrous general counsel, taking work away from overpriced firms with one hand while using the other to execute it in-house or move it to lower-cost firms and nontraditional providers.
recession  clients  firms  admission  schools 
march 2019 by JordanFurlong
Why the War for Talent Is Escalating for Law Firms - Attorney at Work
The diversity imperative. Law firms have gotten the message from corporate clients that legal teams handling their business need to be more diverse. Virtually all law firms that we talk to are encouraging us to recruit diverse attorneys. As a result, the competition to recruit such lawyers is extremely intense. Moreover, statistics show that minorities and women leave their firms throughout their careers at a much higher rate than the overall average. Firms are just beginning to grapple with the fact that the traditional “assignment and mentoring” approach to associate advancement tends to reinforce unconscious bias against diverse lawyers. As a result, many firms have to focus on different methods to ensure the retention of diverse lawyers.

Difficulty implementing succession planning. Law firms are unique organizations in that clients tend to be tied to one attorney who is the point person for all, or nearly all, of their legal work. Studies show that nearly 35 percent of their business is tied to lawyers who are over age 60. Yet firms have struggled with transitioning those clients to more junior lawyers within the firm. Much of this is tied to the largely origination-based compensation of most firms, which makes it difficult for senior lawyers to transition work for the good of the firm, and also make it difficult to incentivize the up-and-coming lawyers. As a result, those lawyers are more apt to change firms or leave private practice entirely. (And in many cases, the client leaves the firm as well.)
firms  talent  diversity  succession  generations  strategy 
february 2019 by JordanFurlong
Linklaters Makes 1st Startup Investment in Nivaura’s $20m Funding, A&O + Orrick Also Invest – Artificial Lawyer
Global legal services business, Linklaters, has this morning announced its first ever startup investment in fintech company Nivaura, as part of a $20m funding round that rival Allen & Overy (A&O) also participated in. US firm, Orrick, also invested as part of this new round, the startup’s fifth stage of funding so far.

Nivaura, has been part of A&O’s FUSE legal tech space, and in which A&O also invested last year, is ‘a regulated FinTech company focused on automating the issuance and administration processes for financial instruments’ said the firm. Other investors include The London Stock Exchange Group, Santander InnoVentures and Aegon insurance. 

In short: that’s an incredibly impressive collection of investors that shows just how important many think this company will be, which uses automation and machine learning. It’s also impressive that two serious rivals from London, such as Linklaters and A&O are going to share in the part ownership of this company. Clearly they see it as not just a good investment, but as important to their client base.

So, what’s the fuss about? Here’s what they say about the startup:

‘Founded three years ago, Nivaura’s focus is on the deployment of digital investment banking platforms for banks, exchanges and other financial institutions. These platforms connect and automate fragmented and manual processes involved in the issuance and administration of instruments such as debt, equity and structured notes. This has the potential to significantly reduce time to market and costs.’

And, if we leave out the financial bits, the message is clear: this is about automation and data collection to reduce manual work, i.e. efficiency.

The firm added that the investment will allow Nivaura to expand its leadership, business development and technical teams in order to accelerate growth. In particular, it will ramp up expertise across machine learning and natural language processing, in line with the increasingly complex automation needs of Nivaura’s clients. The company also plans to enter new jurisdictions and to cover new asset classes.

But….why is Linklaters investing now? This is what they say:
startups  firms  innovation 
february 2019 by JordanFurlong
Are Lawyers Ready to Be Managed by Metrics? | Legaltech News
But it likely wouldn’t stop there, the executive says. It is likely that, if such information existed, the company that owned it would serve as a marketplace for lawyers. It would match its knowledge of lawyers’ work and price history with clients’ desires.

“Take the Uber analysis and imagine ‘Lawber,’” the executive says. “That’s the way our clients will, in a few years from now, buy our legal services. They will say, ‘Here is my problem, and here are my levers: price, quality, safety.’ There is a mixture there that they can select, and then out comes a law firm or a legal team that is assigned the work.”

The executive suggests that consulting firms like the Big Four or billing technology providers are best positioned to serve this role in the market. The key is having a platform that has analyzed a vast enough swath of legal purchases and prices to set the market.
data  clients  firms  pricing  value  metrics 
february 2019 by JordanFurlong
Partnering with Clients to Drive Practical Innovation (Live #ArkLib) - Prism Legal
To get to the new approach at retail company, firm had to actively engage the client, at outset and ongoing basis. The legal ops person had to take chance to push for change in her company. The firm helped the legal ops person with the internal corporate selling. One in-house lawyer was very resistant. Firm helped legal ops sell the engagement on a fixed fee basis.

The key point here is that this program is very close to revenue. Toby worked with the lawyer to sell new business. Client reaction was very positive and included several tweaks in approach over time (a few months since it went live). Gwyn reports there were weekly meetings initially.

For this engagement, technology was a minor piece. The big piece was changing the process.

Gwyn explains how to approach clients with innovation. Start by working client to explain the approach, gain buy-in. KM is involved, not directly with the selling, but with Toby to make sure delivery will work and be profitable. In that initial phase, firm does some process mapping with client. That’s part of initial scoping discussion.

Next step is to build proof of concept. Direct client contact by KM becomes very important here because the firm needs to collect a lot of detail from the client. Gwyn notes that lawyers don’t usually like to sit through these meetings. But multiple iterations were required to collect the right information to handle each matter appropriately.

Once the design was done, the firm had to execute on the mechanics of doing the work. For example, associates were not part of client discussion. They need to be informed how to handle the work. Key success factors include:
firms  clients  innovation  km 
february 2019 by JordanFurlong
How to Evaluate Legal Technology that Improves Efficiency | Legal IT Insider
For example, a lot of the new technology will require significant manpower (often, non-billable) to train and manage the inputs and outputs of the technology; this can be very true of machine learning technology but is not limited to just machine learning technology.  Sometimes these costs are borne by the vendor and incorporated into the cost of the product but, in other contexts, the new users need to train, configure or set-up the technology before it can be reliably used.  This means there can be significant labour and time costs imposed on a purchaser in addition to the cost of licensing or acquiring the software or technology system.

In addition to this labour cost, there can be costs associated with cleaning up data, implementing new workflows or in training before the technology can be relied upon actually to replace the work carried out by humans or permit humans to trust it to use it without human intervention.  During this period there can be significant loss of productivity with hours diverted from billable work, not to mention the need to duplicate efforts (while training or testing the outputs from the technology).  This time and these costs are often not factored into the evaluations of cost-savings possible when “efficiency technology” is used but these are important to factor into any assessment of the cost of the new technology and to evaluate the total cost and RoI of the service delivery associated with its purchase.

Introducing technology to achieve efficiency is still a significant innovation.  There can be challenges to business models associated with the introduction of this kind of technology, as has happened with the movement of much document review to lower-cost and specialty providers.  But efficiency is often really secondary to what has actually happened:  the removal and/or replacement of lawyers from delivery of the work, largely because the technology allowed for standardising an aspect of their work that formerly required opaque judgments that previously could not be easily measured.
strategy  it  firms 
february 2019 by JordanFurlong
Mandatory Budgets? At a Law Firm? You Have Got to Be … Thompson Hine | The American Lawyer
Despite the unanimous agreement to budget all matters, it was not without some resistance. After announcing the policy, some partners, in jest, compared Lamb to Hernán Cortés, the Spanish general who in 1519 ordered his troops to burn their ships on the shores of Mexico as they prepared for battle.

But there was no going back, Lamb said.

“Lawyers are like cats. They don’t like to be herded,” Lamb said. “But I had learned over time that if you tell professionals what you really expect from them and hold them to it, they respond much better than if you just ask.”

Read said the firm’s strategy in spreading adoption of the tool worked. “We got more core converts and more secondary adopters,” she said.

Better Budgets
More law departments are requiring that their outside counsel provide budgets for legal matters. At companies with more than 51 in-house lawyers, 64 percent of general counsel require budgets from their law firm partners, according to a 2018 Altman Weil survey. That figure is up from 57 percent the year prior.

Still, general counsel are somewhat frustrated by the results. More than 1 in 5 general counsel said requiring budgets did not result in significant cost control improvements. That was the highest rate of dissatisfaction among 15 different strategies to control costs, such as shifting work to lower cost firms or using alternative fees.

One reason for the frustration may be that having a budget doesn’t mean you will stick to it. Read and Lamb are now fighting that battle at Thompson Hine.

The firm’s budgeting system is tied in with real-time billing data, and the system sends Lamb alerts when lawyers are going over budget for particular phases of the matter. When those alerts first started rolling in, Lamb said he would call partners and ask what was sending the case over budget. That led to some “culture shock,” Lamb said, where partners would push back against having “their” matters managed by the firm.

His response: “It’s the firm’s case. It’s the firm’s resources. You’re putting the firm’s associates on the matter. And the firm has some say in how you use its resources.”

Lamb now has a paralegal who handles those conversations, which he says are becoming smoother.
process  budgets  client  firms  innovation  management  leadership 
february 2019 by JordanFurlong
Alston & Bird Partners With Georgia State University on Legal Analytics | Legaltech News
Alston & Bird is headed back to school. The Atlanta-based firm is partnering with the Legal Analytics Lab at Georgia State University to receive some hands-on tutoring in data analytics and related tools such as machine learning and text mining. In return, the firm’s attorneys will guest-lecture in graduate-level classes and participate in analytics programs on campus.
Beyond the mutual educational value, the partnership grants Alston some independence from the whims of the legal tech marketplace, where attorneys can sometimes be at the mercy of vendors. As law schools dive deeper into the technology sphere, a symbiotic relationship with firms could combine the practical experience and scientific exploration needed to refine the next generation of legal technology.

While Alston won’t be turning its back on third-party analytics products any time soon, the firm’s senior director of legal technology innovation Nola Vanhoy said they are looking to dive a bit deeper with their approach to tech.
“I don’t think we just want to limit ourselves to waiting for the market to try and deliver to us. We want to think more about it,” Vanhoy said.

Alston had a preexisting relationship with GSU that included internships with students who had a strong background in analytics. Fresh blood—even temporary fresh blood—helped keep the firm abreast of technological developments and other potential advances worth watching.

Vanhoy said the presence of those people kept Alston fresh. Without an influx of new ideas or concepts, it’s easy for a business to fall into a rut.
schools  firms  innovation  analytics 
february 2019 by JordanFurlong
Allen & Overy Expands Consulting Arm, Launches Client News Service | Legaltech News
Allen & Overy is ramping up its alternative client offering with the use of a new tool developed in its tech incubation program Fuse, as well as expanding its consulting business in Australia.

The new product, Vable Connect, provides a web-based platform that enables clients to receive research and news on relevant matters via their lawyers.
Information provider Vable was part of A&O’s first Fuse tech program intake in 2017 and worked with the firm to create a product that collates online news and information for lawyers to send to clients. It was founded in 2004 by former Manches lawyer Matthew Dickinson.

A&O global head of research and library services Sarah Fahy said that clients want “the right information coming to them in the right quantity,” but often “don’t have the staff and skills in-house to do their own research on an ongoing basis.”

Dickinson added that A&O has been the “driving force” behind the new product and that the new platform has the potential to turn firms’ library teams, traditionally seen as a cost center within a business, into a “value-add” service.
km  it  innovation  firms 
february 2019 by JordanFurlong
Outside Law Firm Panel Convergence – Innovation Driver or Innovation Destroyer? | DennisKennedy.Blog
Stories abound these days about general counsels wanting their outside law firms to help them with innovation and technology efforts. My own conversations indicate that the real wish goes a step further. General counsel want their outside firms to bring them measurable value with innovation and technology initiatives that align with their legal and, more importantly, business goals. Even a quick scan of a recent survey results from Thompson Hine will have you agreeing with their assessment that there is an “Innovation Gap.” Only 29% of participants said that their outside firms have brought them “significant” innovation.
convergence  clients  firms  innovation 
february 2019 by JordanFurlong
The Nature of the Firm - Adam Smith, Esq.
My title for today steals literally from Ronald Coase’s legendary 1937 paper of the same name, which gained Coase the Nobel in Economics in 1991.  The paper, barely over a dozen pages long, asks the question, childlike in its simplicity, “why do firms exist?”  In other words, given that essentially any and all tasks can be contracted out to people who are (pace Adam Smith) already the best at providing the goods or services they do–powerfully more true today than 80 years ago–why would anyone choose to hire people full-time instead?
firms  purpose 
february 2019 by JordanFurlong
'Change' Is a Mantra for Law Firms, But Will They Tune In? | Law.com
To Ralph Baxter, the former chairman of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, nearly everything about law firms will need to change if they are to be successful in the near future. They will need to re-examine their financial model; their resources model; their underlying legal services delivery model; and their investment model, Baxter said.
“Associates earn $200,000 when they barely know where the office is,” said Baxter, who is now a board member of professional services technology company Intapp. “That is the lowest-cost resource in a law firm. And you’re going to compete with [alternative providers]? Nobody starting from scratch would start with that model. And so you have to address that. And if you’re not willing to address that, you’re not going to have a chance at competing.”

While Baxter’s message may ultimately be right, according to James Goodnow, the managing partner of Am Law 200 firm Fennemore Craig, there is also a risk that what conversations about change will be tuned out by law firm partners who are still making healthy salaries from traditional law firm models.

“Until it starts hitting partners in the pocketbook, they will not believe it,” Goodnow said. “There is no existential threat, or perceived existential threat, and so that is why there’s no change. So what’s the problem? We are all part of the problem. We have been saying the same thing over and over again. We’ve said, ‘Change is coming. We need to rethink everything.’ And the partners at the law firms have heard this. And it’s like the boy who cried wolf. Nothing has happened. And the law firm partners are doing very well. So because of that, you have tremendous skepticism among a group of people who are very skeptical to begin with.”
change  innovation  process  firms  partners  competition 
january 2019 by JordanFurlong
Hogan Lovells Uses Simulated Law Firms to Train Real Partners
Hogan Lovells is amping up its attorney training by engaging newly promoted partners in computer simulations that allow them to test their skills at running a global law firm.

Hogan hired Simulation Studios, a corporate training firm, to create the digital leadership development program for its 2018 equity partner class.

The training was the first for any new equity partner class and is part of the firm’s commitment to partner development on a global scale, Michelle Nash, Hogan’s director of learning and development, told Bloomberg Law.

Since the 2010 merger of Hogan & Hartson and Lovells, the firm’s been dedicated to making annual, incremental advances in its global culture and this training is the one result of that goal, Nash explained.

During the three-day pilot program in June of last year, about 25 equity partners from Hogan’s 2018 class gathered in Monaco prior to the firm’s global partners conference to compete in teams of five against one another running their own simulated law firms.
firms  training  partners  innovation 
january 2019 by JordanFurlong
The Power of Just Getting Better at What You Already Do | Law.com
These dynamics have important implications for how firms should think about investing to augment their stature. Broadly, a firm has two options: add breadth (build new practices) or add depth (push existing practices up the ranking bands). If a firm chooses to add breadth, they’ll start with something like a Band 4 position. But such positions are precarious; there’s a 90 percent chance the position will be lost in 10 years. You can picture how this plays out in the real world: a firm makes a splash by hiring partners laterally in the new practice area. But integrating laterals and cementing them to their new firms is tricky. Firm management often expects the laterals to port more business, more quickly, than they do; laterals expect management to invest more, more quickly, than the firm does. Disappointment abounds; momentum is lost; the new laterals move on—half of all laterals stay barely five years at their new firms; the move-on rate is doubtlessly higher for those in add-on practices.
strategy  firms 
january 2019 by JordanFurlong
Junior Lawyers Are Going Extinct And Nobody Knows What To Do About It | Above the Law
Professor John Flood of Griffith University in Queensland, Australia also sees this danger. In a new academic paper titled, “Legal Professionals of the Future: Their Ethos, Role and Skills,” he writes:

The effect of automation here could be dramatic in that if junior associates were to be gradually culled from firms, the entire reproduction of the legal profession could be jeopardised since law firms are structured around associates being promoted to partnership…

Exactly. Sooner rather than later, firms are going to slow their junior hiring and focus on a narrower range of candidates. Unfortunately, the path to building a great lawyer is a pyramid scheme and it’s harder to guarantee good results when there are less bodies in the system getting tested for their professional acumen.

Moreover, screwing up the most basic tasks is a critical part of becoming a well-seasoned attorney. What happens when we lose those tasks to throw at a first-year? What replaces that hands-on education?

Legal Cheek cites a Law Society study that estimates:

Over the longer term, the number of jobs in the legal services sector will be increasingly affected by automation of legal services functions. This could mean that by 2038 total employment in the sector could be 20% less than it would otherwise have been, with a loss of 78,000 jobs — equal to 67,000 full-time equivalent jobs — compared to if productivity growth continued at its current rate.

Gloom and doom over unemployment is usually misplaced. Jobs tend to just get shifted — more firm lawyers become freelance attorneys or join non-traditional legal services companies, for example. But if the training regime for young lawyers isn’t addressed, the population of competent attorneys to fill these new gigs will simply dry up.

Firms and law schools need to start taking this challenge seriously because life comes at you fast, and the profession could face its existential crisis sooner than folks realize.
firms  laterals  training  competence  schools 
january 2019 by JordanFurlong
Reed Smith’s Tech Subsidiary GravityStack Hits Maturity Milestone | Legaltech News
Since launching as an independent legal tech subsidiary of Reed Smith in last April, GravityStack has been quickly ramping up its business. The subsidiary has developed five proprietary legal tech platforms that it licenses as cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) products to hundreds of clients, including corporate legal departments and other law firms, according to Bryon Bratcher, managing director of GravityStack.

Recently, GravityStack also took a big step forward in becoming more of a full-service legal technology provider. Early this month, it licensed its e-discovery analytics and business intelligence tool Periscope, initially created by Reed Smith in 2014, as an on-premise solution for Toronto-based law firm McCarthy Tétrault.
It was the first time GravityStack sold an on-premise license for one of its products, and Bratcher believes one of the first times a law firm-created company offered a proprietary legal tech solution to another firm in an on-premises installation.

Bratcher called the development a “turning point” for GravityStack. “I definitely would say this is a sign of maturity for us based on growth and capabilities and specification of what we can do,” he said.
Unlike cloud products, an on-premise license requires setting up software within a client’s own IT environment so that it can run locally without having to connect to outside servers. Offering on-premise installation of Periscope, which Bratcher previously described to Legaltech News as a “data warehouse” that sits on top of different e-discovery platforms to track “the speed and accuracy of document reviewers at the individual level,” is no easy feat.

“Because Periscope is a data warehouse it inherently is going to connect to different data sources, and each customer has different data sources, different technology environments, [and] different technology they need to have Periscope connected to,” Bratcher said. Still, he noted that while on-premise solution deployments can be challenging, they can also be “exciting because we learn more with each installation.”
subsidiaries  it  firms 
january 2019 by JordanFurlong
Greasing The Gears Of Legal Commerce — Automatic, Systematic, Hydromatic (alt.legal) Innovation | Above the Law
CLIENT PROBLEM: clients approach leading law firms (the only organization in the United States who can practice law) with a legal problem, and seek proposals to solve it;
VIRTUOUS CYCLE / SOLUTION DESIGN: law firms weigh the cost and benefits of various courses of action, and propose solutions;
BUY BUILD OR PARTNER: these solutions would include both their legal expertise, AND best-in-class technology, outside services and financing, all of which would be designed to lower costs and risks, and improve legal outcomes;
CLIENT-SIDE BUYING SOPHISTICATION: the law firm with the best proposal would be selected;
FIRM-SIDE EXECUTION: Law firm would serve as general contractor, executing the proposed solution as promised;
COMMERCIAL LOYALTY (NOT JUST <3): if the solution was successful, this strategy would please the client encouraging them to use the law firm more in the future, while also encouraging others clients;
TRUTH IN ADVERTISING: the law firm would advertise their win, and have outsized odds of picking up more like clients;
RIGOROUS REPORTING: the legal media would also pick up the innovative story and speed the adoption of the technologies, services and financing used by the law firm;
SMART CAPITAL: venture capital and strategic buyers would increase investment and acquisition of similar solutions, making them better and better, faster and faster!
RINSE & REPEAT: Well, you get the picture!
The Red Pill: The Real World We Occupy Today

Well, anyone who works at the intersection of law and innovation today knows we are far from this ideal state. In order to grease the gears of commerce, we first have to diagnose the barriers preventing the best of all possible worlds.

We identified three categories of barriers that slow the pace of innovation, each at different points in the go-to-market process: (1) being presented to buyers; (2) being adopted by a critical mass of clients, and; (3) being rewarded by the market.
innovation  firms  clients 
january 2019 by JordanFurlong
Ogletree Deakins Partners With AI Company to Build Better Data | The American Lawyer
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart last April became the first law firm to publicly announce a licensing deal with legal AI firm LegalMation, which generates automated responses to complaints in just a couple minutes.
Now, the Atlanta-founded AmLaw 100 firm will be the lone Big Law labor and employment firm to use the tool, announcing Wednesday it signed an exclusive partnership arrangement to use the LegalMation platform and to build new products from it.

Until now, Ogletree had used the product on employment cases in California, but it will expand that use to Texas, New Jersey and Florida as well as other jurisdictions as they become available on the LegalMation platform, the firm announced. In addition to drawing up answers to complaints, the product also drafts responses to discovery requests.
Through the partnership, Ogletree lawyers will train LegalMation’s artificial intelligence system and also help in the development of new auto-generated reports through the system. Those reports could include case analytics, case summaries and other high-volume prelitigation tasks, the firm said.

Patrick DiDomenico, the firm’s chief knowledge officer, said the license with LegalMation is intended to help the firm’s lawyers spend less time on routine legal tasks such as drawing up answers to complaints. Down the line, he said the tool’s ability to capture data on complaints will help its lawyers make more insightful decisions while litigating cases.


Patrick DiDomenico, chief knowledge officer of Ogletree Deakins.
“Having access to LegalMation [exclusively] is an obvious benefit,” DiDomenico said. “More importantly, I think it demonstrates the commitment we have to each other. We are both very serious about this partnership. And that is an indicator of how hard we are both going to work to make this mutually beneficial and beneficial to our clients.”
robo  data  firms  innovation 
january 2019 by JordanFurlong
The Big Three Annual Reports: Citi/Hildebrandt - Adam Smith, Esq.
In other words:

The “rate growth” group outpaced everyone else by over two percentage points/year over the entire seven year period and still grew demand faster than everyone else; clients were evidently not buying from these firms based on price.
Meanwhile, the “demand growth” crowd beat the daylights out of everyone else in, what, demand (up over 4 percentage points/year for the entire period) while essentially meeting the market dead on in terms of rate growth. They were not “buying” market share with discounts.
In Citi’s apt summary of these findings (emphasis mine):

In our view, brand strength and product focus are among the most highly rewarded traits of a law firm in today’s market. In recent years, much of the demand growth has come from high value work—work that is typically undertaken by firms who enjoy a strong brand, and can command high rates. Firms who have established themselves as the go-to practice in a market—whether that be by industry, practice or region—have been able to increase demand for their services while also charging higher rates.
firms  partners  laterals 
january 2019 by JordanFurlong
Millennials in Big Law: Resistance Is Futile | The American Lawyer
In her seminal series of articles on millennials in Big Law, Lizzy McLellan has noted that “millennials make up the largest generational group among lawyers at large and midsize firms” and that “the numbers starkly illustrate the reality facing law firm leaders: Millennials will soon take over the legal profession in sheer numbers—and soon enough they’ll dominate leadership positions and partnerships, too.”



Like the Boomers, millennials have been vilified by the generations preceding them. Millennials are often described as “self-centered, needy and entitled with unrealistic work expectations,” Jada A. Graves wrote in U.S. News & World Report, in June 2012, and perception has changed little in the ensuing six years. However, “this unsavory list of descriptors is in sharp contrast with how this generation views themselves. … They don’t see themselves as entitled, they see themselves as very hardworking, dedicated and loyal,” she wrote. Like Graves, we believe millennials are no different than their predecessors, and what they really suffer from is a classic communication gap between generations. Moreover, given their unfettered access to information via the internet, millennials are arguably the most well-informed generation. They don’t think they’re lazy—just misunderstood—and they don’t seem to care what their elders think.

The vast majority of millennials are still associates whose main responsibilities are billing hours rather than business development, and the data suggests that the traditional system of leverage, with partners landing major clients and associates putting in the hours to service them, continues to produce favorable financial results. According to McLellan, 61 percent of attorneys at the top 10 law firms by profits per equity partner are millennials, and that percentage decreases as the profitability of firms decreases. However, with the oldest millennials now entering their mid-30s and nearly a decade in practice, firms are looking to elevate them into the partnership vacancies left by the significant number of Boomer retirements expected in the coming years. Given millennials’ priorities (which differ significantly from their predecessors) and the significant post-recession shifts in the way law is practiced, it seems obvious that Big Law will need to get creative in how to accommodate, retain and elevate its largest and arguably most leverageable group of attorneys.
millennials  demographics  generations  firms  laterals  partners 
january 2019 by JordanFurlong
Report Proves What We Already Knew: Clients Will Pay Any Fee Hike To Get Brand Name Firms | Above the Law
Whenever firms start chattering about a salary increase or a bump in bonuses, the same clients come out of the woodwork to complain that they will not under any circumstances pay more to finance these “exorbitant” associate salaries. Then every single one of them falls in line and pays the newly hiked fees and the whole legal world keeps on spinning.

At least that’s what happens at the elite firms. The mid-tier firms — which increasingly means “the Am Law 51-100” — don’t necessarily have that luxury. For these firms trying to keep up with the big dogs in the drive for talent, it’s harder to pass the cost onto the client, resulting in thinner margins and stressing the firm.

This has long been the conventional wisdom among legal industry observers, but the new Citi Private Bank Law Firm Group Report went out and actually gathered some hard data to see if our gut instincts are correct. It turns out… they are.
clients  firms  brand 
december 2018 by JordanFurlong
Practice Groups Part 1: The Framework and Leadership Role | Rainmaking Oasis, LLC
12 STEPS TO ACCELERATE PRACTICE GROUP LEADER EFFECTIVENESS:
 

There are a number of ways that firms can improve the likelihood of success of their practice group leaders:

Define the job and write a job description; include a description of how the PGL will be evaluated, measured and compensated.
Put the right leaders into the position by formally assessing partners’ personality traits before appointing them PGL, using the defined objectives of the practice group and the likely responsibilities and traits to identify ideal candidates.
Provide training in all of the core responsibility areas, e.g., finance, project management, knowledge management, coaching, business planning, business development, performance review, team-building, communications including addressing conflict and having difficult conversations, emotional intelligence and time management.
Inculcate an Emotional Intelligence culture that lends itself to successful leadership: 360 degree reviews, personality assessments, sharing and application of findings; teamwork.
Provide them with their own executive coach who can serve as a sounding board.
Give them some relief from ambitious client/billable goals.
Schedule quarterly one-on-one meetings/calls with the Managing Partner to share progress, feedback, strategic and operational priority shifts.
Develop a team-coaching forum for all PGLs to meet at least quarterly to share challenges and success strategies.
Provide dedicated, professional support via a business manager, a business development manager and/or a skilled and organized executive assistant (who isn’t assigned to 2-5 other partners/lawyers!)
Ask the partner to complete a self-assessment on a semi-annual basis to be shared and discussed with the firm’s managing partner (or department chair.)
Reward and recognize PGLs through compensation and public recognition
Begin training the next generation of practice group leaders early on, either by giving them a role as a deputy leader and/or through distributive leadership, whereby younger partners in the practice group are given discrete areas of responsibility, e.g., hiring, associate reviews and development, marketing, etc.
leadership  firms 
december 2018 by JordanFurlong
False Profits: Venerating Both the Art and Science of Law Firm Profitability | The Legal Intelligencer
The modern law firm has all the complexities and nuances of any multi-line business, often compounded by a multi-national footprint and a wide variety of client types operating across a spectrum of business cycles. Consequently, identifying the appropriate measures of profit requires more than one simple, catch-all solution, despite the intoxicating simplicity of the olden days. Identifying and adopting more precise measures of profit, and then linking incentives to the lawyer behaviors that drives these measures of profit, is a nuanced exercise, to be sure, but not beyond the grasp of law firm leaders and the business professionals who support them.

Profit measures are, at heart, an indication of how well the firm’s capabilities and strategy are addressing evolving market demands. Getting it right will take time, in-depth analysis, and a change management mindset, but law firm leaders who embrace profit as an essential measure of a lawyer’s contribution, and over time incorporate these measures to drive and reward the behaviors consistent with the firm’s strategy, will enhance their firms’ staying power. Let other firms pray at the altar of false profits, resisting client demand and pursuing outdated production metrics. Come judgment day, all will be made clear.
profitability  firms 
november 2018 by JordanFurlong
6 Law Firms That Became Software Developers This Fall | The American Lawyer
If necessity isn’t the mother of all invention then it’s certainly a close relative. Law firms have begun moonlighting as software developers to help make day-to-day operations run more efficiently, provide better service to clients or just to keep the lights from going out.
innovation  firms  it  clients 
november 2018 by JordanFurlong
Eversheds rolls out app to capture internal innovation ideas - Legal Futures
A global law firm has implemented a web-based crowdsourcing app to harness innovative ideas from its thousands of employees worldwide.

IdeaDrop, an off-the-shelf product used by other large companies, was adapted by Eversheds Sutherland, which has 66 offices in 32 countries. It has been piloted and since last week is being rolled out among the legal practice’s 5,000 staff. It has already accumulated over 100 suggestions.

Similar to social media platforms, the app allows users to ‘drop’ an idea, which other users can comment on, share, like and rate.

Users can also ‘drop’ a challenge, using the app as a crowdsourcing platform in an effort to find solutions to particular problems. The firm monitors the online results and the intention is that the best ideas will be captured and put into effect.

Lee Ranson, Eversheds’ co-chief executive and former managing partner, said: “As our scale and reach grows we want to continue to drive innovation across the business globally, harnessing the creativity of our people to help deliver our strategy.

“The beauty of IdeaDrop is its simplicity and inclusivity – it allows everyone to be a part of making change happen, regardless of their role or geographical location.”

He told Legal Futures that the platform had been piloted among around 500 people in the firm’s partner group from July 2018, following a conference in New York.
innovation  crowdfunding  firms  laterals  r&d 
november 2018 by JordanFurlong
New Partners Don't Know What to Expect After Promotion, Survey Shows | The American Lawyer
Of the 238 survey respondents who answered the question “What has disappointed you the most” about making partner, 71 were disappointed with compensation.

Asked to rate their satisfaction with various aspects of partnership, only 57.2 percent of new partners said they are satisfied or very satisfied with compensation.

One respondent said they were disappointed to be “treated as a glorified associate for purposes of compensation and bonus (and, thanks to the midyear associate raises, I’ll make less than most senior associates this year).”

Another said that buying shares, along with lower-than-expected pay and an end to performance bonuses, had placed a strain on finances. “It’s really depressing and demoralizing to get a promotion and then to have to put your family on a strict monthly budget,” that respondent said.

James Cotterman, a consultant at Altman Weil, said he’s not surprised by the number of new partners expressing a misalignment between their compensation expectations and reality.

“In general, career progression management is not a legal profession strength,” Cotterman says. New equity partners see higher pay, but they have to pay for their own benefits and self-employment taxes, as well as capital contributions.
jf  partners  firms 
november 2018 by JordanFurlong
These Big Law Firms Are Backing an App Store for Legal Tech Products | The American Lawyer
A group of 12 of the world’s most elite law firms have teamed up to nudge legal technology vendors toward adopting an infrastructure that sounds arcane, but could be a key development in unleashing a digital revolution in the practice of law.
Legal tech companies, listen up. It’s called “containerization.”

The 12 law firms have joined a consortium to support a legal tech startup called Reynen Court LLC, which is creating a platform to allow law firms to more quickly deploy legal tech tools such as contract analysis, discovery and practice management. In short, the effort is akin to creating an App Store that will allow law firms to quickly and more securely fire up third-party software.

The group is asking tech companies to, pardon the jargon, deploy containerized apps into firms’ private cloud environments or their own data centers. Applied to the legal world, the benefits of this new technology infrastructure pioneered by companies like Amazon.com Inc., Google LLC and Microsoft Corp. could include safer, less expensive storage of client data. But it could also supercharge the impact of disparate legal tech solutions by allowing them to work together.

If legal tech vendors adopt Reynen Court’s platform, products that, for instance, analyze contracts, conduct decision-tree reasoning and draft documents could interact with each other.
consortium  firms  it 
october 2018 by JordanFurlong
Law Firms Recognize Automation’s Importance, but They're Still Not Leveraging It | Legaltech News
Over 60 percent of surveyed firms said that automation around pricing and contact management was important to their efforts to win new clients and grow existing relationships, though only slightly under half leveraged automation for pricing, while only a third leveraged it for contact management.

Among those automating contact management and pricing, only about 40 percent said it reduced hours spent on those tasks. The majority of firms either saw no change, or did not know if there was a change in time spent.
Dan Tacone, president at Intapp, explained that automation around contact management usually takes the form of knowledge management databases that can automatically be updated with current and potential client information to keep attorneys informed. Likewise, automation around pricing refers to similar repositories that automatically collects pricing data, either externally from public databases or internally from the firm, to help attorneys determine how best to price certain matters.

To help with evaluating and onboarding new businesses, almost 70 percent of surveyed firms said automation around conflict clearance was vital, though only less than 45 percent implemented such automation in-house. Around a quarter of those automating conflicts clearance said it reduced time spent on the task, but a majority still saw no change or did not know what the impact was.

Likewise, while around two-thirds of surveyed firms also said that e-billing and time management were important to help meet client demands for transparency, only about 40 percent used e-billing, and 35 percent used management solutions. Under half said e-billing and time management were time-savers.

Tacone explained that though they find automation important, many firms aren’t bringing it in-house because it takes time to change their old spending and work habits. “They haven’t invested in technology as a strategic advantage before” and aren’t used to thinking of using technology for client services, he said.
it  efficiency  firms 
october 2018 by JordanFurlong
How Linklaters’ Ideas Pathway Drives Change (AKA Legal Kaizen) – Artificial Lawyer
What is the Ideas Pathway?

A technology platform that enables any Linklaters colleague to submit and progress their idea – at any time, from any device
It provides:
a central hub for idea collation and submission
transparency across the firm in terms of process and evaluation of all ideas (everyone has access and can see ideas submitted)
a place for collaboration – colleagues from different practice areas and functions can search, review, comment, tag and vote on ideas in the pathway
innovation  firms 
september 2018 by JordanFurlong
Our journey to Big | Legal Evolution (067)
Many lawyers and law firms claim to serve the middle market, often describing how they deal directly with owners and executives rather than in-house counsel. Although these clients aren’t the Fortune 500, the lawyers and law firm leaders take enormous pride in this type of practice and discuss it in ways that suggest it’s a stable and permanent market niche. I’m not sure that’s right.
clients  firms  ops 
september 2018 by JordanFurlong
Comment: For good or ill, Kirkland is now redefining high-end law
The critics loathe the outfit in part for upending some accepted notions of how global law firms are supposed to excel. But most of the distaste springs from the potency of a challenge emerging from outside the profession’s established London and New York elites. Kirkland’s success, however, isn’t just about defying norms. In some areas, Kirkland took platitudes of focus, meritocracy and leadership and turned them into realities. Sometimes brutal realities but that’s reality for you.

Kirkland’s rise also speaks to the fact that the 30-year expansion of the private equity industry proved an unbeatable vehicle on which to hitch legal ambitions. Also fundamental has been a model utterly geared to the dramatic impact that talented, driven and entrepreneurial individuals can have with the right platform. Perhaps Kirkland’s ascent will prove the high watermark of law’s star culture before technology digitises magic into process. If not, rivals should accept there is more to Kirkland’s peculiar culture of excellence than bling and sharp elbows. Nowhere is that more obvious than in its dual tournament model of early associate advancement, the closest Kirkland has to a secret sauce. After locking in talent with a quick crack at non-equity status – a contrast to many peers stretching out the partnership track – talent gets further vetted with the carrot of ultra-lucrative full equity.

Though many criticise the model, as a neutral observer I struggle to find its supposed flaws; Kirkland’s equity/fee-earner leverage isn’t even all that high. But then the legal industry has ignored mounting evidence that delaying advancement of the younger ranks is losing sizeable chunks of valuable talent because that suited older partners.

Even such assets do not make Kirkland unassailable. Fast-growth models are inherently prone to instability and easily store up problems for when expansion eventually stalls. The swirl of gossip surrounding the recruitment of Freshfields playmaker David Higgins has yet to die down; a flame-out in London would be damaging.
firms 
september 2018 by JordanFurlong
Why Microsoft is Hosting Their Law Firms in Redmond This Week and Why it Matters for Everyone Else? – Big Law Business
Microsoft, like any huge global enterprise, is able to make certain requests of their outside counsel because of the high volume of sophisticated work they send to their law firms. Put simply: Microsoft can ask because, well, they are Microsoft (the same could be said of Shell and GSK). On the other hand, a general counsel of a company with $5-10 million in annual legal spend, is going to have a harder time creating unique alternative fee arrangements or demanding innovative approaches to legal service delivery. But, as it turns out, the fact that others do not ask creates a problem for Microsoft, because it enables law firms to push back with “None of our other clients ask for this.” For Microsoft, then, hosting and publicizing their Trusted Advisor Forum helps everyone in the ecosystem, including Microsoft.
clients  innovation  firms 
september 2018 by JordanFurlong
Wells Fargo Report Gives More Evidence for Big Law's Financial Rebound | The American Lawyer
Inventory, often referred to as accounts receivable, has surged 9.4 percent since the midyear point of 2017. That compares to only 4.3 percent growth at the same point last year. Mendola said firms entered 2018 with a strong inventory buildup from the last three months of 2017, but accounts receivable have stayed healthy as demand for lawyer hours increased during the year.
firms 
september 2018 by JordanFurlong
[no title]
What Successful Companies Know That Law
Firms Need to Know: The Importance of
Employee Motivation and Job Satisfaction to
Increased Productivity and Stronger Client
Relationships
compensation  partners  firms 
september 2018 by JordanFurlong
Cover Story: The on-campus interview process is broken | PrecedentJD : PrecedentJD
One of the students at the table was Jessica George. In her head, she kept a running tally of all the drink orders. “Once we finished our cocktails, the partners ordered wine for the table,” she recalls. “We conquered a few bottles. Then we had aperitifs at the end. That’s a lot of booze.”

When the partners began to ask questions, they had nothing to do with law. The polite chatter turned, at times, to sports and television. But the low point, for George, arrived when one of the partners asked the following question: What is your favourite overseas destination? “I know the partner was not trying to be malicious,” says George. “He was just trying to find an easy way to have a casual conversation, but he assumed that everyone would have been overseas.”
schools  firms  admission  recruiting 
august 2018 by JordanFurlong
(11) Does the Rise of Legal COOs Spell Trouble for Law Firms? | LinkedIn
The very nature of the legal COO’s role is that they will want this information readily available, on demand, and will not accept firms failing to deliver it. The conversation will no longer be; “Wasn’t that a great piece of work we did for you?” It will be much more along the lines of, “We successfully completed that engagement for you. Here’s a complete breakdown of our costs against the fee we quoted, the people who worked on the matter, exactly what they did for you in terms of time and deliverables and what we believe are the next steps you should be considering, together with a projected timescale and potential cost.”

As such expectations become standard, the nature of the conversation with clients will fundamentally shift, and with that, law firms need to ask themselves who within the firm is best positioned to lead that conversation. It may no longer be the client service/relationship partner.

Delivering results in themselves will not be enough. Legal COOs will want a detailed understanding of how they were delivered and at what cost to his/her firm. If you’re unable to produce that data, than it compromises the ability of the COO to perform their role of achieving operational excellence. So guess what? They will look for law firms that can. There will always be exceptions to any generalisation, which clearly this is. But COOs are unlikely to have brand loyalty to a particular law firm, which may have existed prior to their arrival. They will have their own set of criteria for selecting and maintaining relationships, not just with law firms, but with any provider of legal services that meets their operational requirements. 
ops  clients  firms 
august 2018 by JordanFurlong
GravityStack's Bryon Bratcher on the Reed Smith Venture's Strategy | Artificial Lawyer
To conclude, Gravity Stack is an impressive, tech-creating organisation, even more noteworthy when one considers it has been born out of a law firm – which are not usually the most focused businesses when it comes to tech R&D.

Is it a tech company? Is it a consultative business? Is it an internal innovation resource? Probably it is all three of those things put together with a focus on data, process and, much to Artificial Lawyer’s pleasure, leveraging automation in conjunction with human lawyer work.

Where Bratcher and the team go now remains to be seen, but given the huge demand for transformation in the legal market then it seems safe to say the future is bright for GS.
firms  innovation  it  subsidiaries 
august 2018 by JordanFurlong
The Battle For Talent Is Disrupting The Business Of Law | The American Lawyer
When partners move (and big-money partners, in particular), they may give any number of reasons as to why, but when push comes to shove, the vast majority move for one or more of three reasons: (i) more money, (ii) and/or to stop carrying unproductive partners (this is a “social” aspect, is generally highly underrated by courting firms in the way of motivation, and goes hand in hand with making more money) and/or (iii) anxiety surrounding their firm’s strategy and general durability. Let’s look at each:

Aggressive payouts: When you are already making $5M and really like your firm, it is one thing to refute the allure of another $1M, but another $5-6M? That’s a different animal altogether. This may sound, well, odd, to the average person – “another $1M isn’t enough to jar someone loose?” – but in many-to-most instances at the higher levels, no, it is not. Generally speaking, the highest producers are not actually driven by money, which has helped them get to their current station in the first place. They work a lot because they like it; they are (almost exclusively) fiscally responsible; they focus on skill/knowledge/personal development, client service and solving practical problems; and their current financial success is a happy byproduct, not the driver, of their decisions. But, we all have our price, do we not? The current climate is proving this and it is happening more and more.

“Equality” issues: With the roots of all law firms hailing from a partnership culture – i.e., one of equality, contribution and having the same amount of “skin” in the game – it is generally very difficult for firms to openly discuss, much less act upon, what is effectively (and sometimes blatantly) unequal contributions to the firm’s bottom line. Further, with (a) the ease of information flow, (b) the (almost uniform) presence of transparent compensation systems, and (c) the relatively recent spike in huge lateral paydays, it is becoming harder for major rainmakers to feel comfortable being paid “in-and-around,” or in some cases equal to, their lesser-contributing partners.

Durability: The movement of big names, firms’ inability to backfill those names with commensurate finances and reputational capital, and the resulting optics have caused significant anxiety amongst partners in many firms, including those that once were considered bulletproof.
laterals  firms  talent  partners 
august 2018 by JordanFurlong
Clifford Chance launched IGNITE
Clifford Chance has launched IGNITE on August 1st, a new London-based training contract focused on Legal Tech.

The Magic Circle firm is the first in the legal sector to offer a training contract centered on Legal Tech.

The programme – which is currently accepting applications – is geared towards individuals with an aptitude for tech and interest in technology areas such as artificial intelligence, fintech and coding.

The new scheme will mirror the structure of a regular training contract but have a specific focus on Legal Tech. Trainees will be given time away from fee-earning to gain the necessary training, support and expertise in the field of Legal Tech. Upon qualification, trainees will have the opportunity to join one of the firm’s main practice areas which include finance, corporate, capital markets, litigation & dispute resolution, real estate and tax, pensions and employment incentives.

The launch of the programme comes at a time of increasing convergence between the legal and tech world. Michael Bates, regional managing partner said: “We know we must continually challenge ourselves to guide our clients through game-changing opportunities and risks, both now and into the future. Legal Tech is changing the face of our industry and we want to be at the forefront of that change. We’re committed to driving a culture that embraces digital thinking across each of our practice areas and we hope that these trainees will go on to make a significant change in their practice areas upon qualifying.”
it  firms  innovation 
august 2018 by JordanFurlong
Legal Innovation Woes, Part I: Got 99 Problems but Capital Ain't One (062) | Legal Evolution
But a few law firms do think and act with the recognition that they are future-proofing their businesses against emerging threats.  Allen & Overy is a good example of an outlier firm displaying both indicators of innovation maturity.  In 2016, A&O partnered with Deloitte to bring to market MarginMatrix, an “IT solution for compliance with the mandatory variation margin rules that now apply to the USD500 trillion OTC [over-the-counter] derivatives market,” now deployed for 8 global investment banks with over 20,000 negotiations completed. See Allen & Overy Annual Results Factsheet for Fiscal Year 2017.

MarginMatrix shows interesting signs of innovation maturity in that it is hyper-focused in product design and target market. The solution design also displays a high degree of customer-orientation, around which coalesces (a) complementary technology components (expert system, workflow, document automation) and (b) a managed services play that leverages (presumably) lower-cost staffing from Deloitte’s deep bench.
innovation  firms  capital 
august 2018 by JordanFurlong
Four charts to better understand the Class of 2017 (060) | Legal Evolution
One of the NALP findings latched onto by the legal press was the increase in hiring among 500+ lawyer firms — up 368 jobs, or 8.6% from the prior year.  However, the data in Chart 4 suggest that BigLaw is unlikely to power a recovery for law schools.  Although the number of lawyers working in 500+ lawyer firms has increased significantly over the last 11 years (+36%), associates appear to be waning in importance. We see this through the shrinking proportion new-hires within large law firms.  Why is this happening?

A partial answer is that firms are finding it harder to sustain organic growth. See, e.g., Georgetown Law, “2018 Report on the State of the Legal Market” at 14 (“Since 2008, the overall growth trend for demand for law firm services has (with certain spikes and dips) been essentially flat to negative in every year.”); MacEwen, “It’s [not] The Economy. Stupid,” Adam Smith Esq., Aug. 5, 2018 (showing large drop-off in annual revenue growth after 2008). Because many lawyers and firm managers associate size with safety, growth through mergers and lateral partner hiring has become a dominant strategy.  The idea is to focus on groups of lawyers who can pay their own way in the current fiscal year.

One of the primary consequences of this strategy is that firms are relying less on associates and more on staff attorneys, counsel, and non-equity partners. See Henderson & Parker, “The Diamond Law Firm: A New Model or the Pyramid Unraveling?,” Lawyer Metrics Industry Report No. 1 (2013). First-year associates require higher salaries; more training and supervision; engender greater client pushback; and often leave before the firm recovers recruitment costs. Thus, large firms are finding ways to get by with fewer of them.
firms  laterals  partners  admisison  schools 
august 2018 by JordanFurlong
Baker McKenzie’s Growth Shows Value of One-Stop Legal Shopping – Big Law Business
Some of the major legal matters the firm handled over the past fiscal year included:

Lead counsel on the German company Knauf’s proposed $6 billion takeover of USG Corporation, the construction materials company.
Advisors to board of directors in LafargeHolcim investigation of its operations in Syria.
Legal counsel in sale of Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel & Convention Center and Park Tower Hotel for about $100 million.
Legal counsel to DK Telekommunikation and a consortium in a $6.7 million takeover of Danish telecoms business TDC A/S.
Advisor to Marriott hotel group in a transaction to manage a casino hotel in Madrid, the first to be located in the city in 20 years.
Lead counsel for France-based pharmaceutical company Servier in its acquisition of Shire’s oncology business for $2.4 billion.
Baker McKenzie also focused on plowing money back into the firm to innovate and upgrade its operations, and hired laterally from other firms to boost its book of business. Like other mega-firms, it is spread widely geographically and operates under a vertically integrated model that tries to offer one-stop legal shopping for multinational corporations.
firms  innovation  global 
august 2018 by JordanFurlong
‘The giant is awakening’: Baker McKenzie adds $230m to revenue
‘The giant is awakening,’ he added, referring to Legal Business’ feature on Bakers last year. ‘We are going up the market, there is no question about that.’

He saw the results as an endorsement of its strategy of focusing on the key money centres – London, New York and China – as well as integrating the global giant and pitching to clients around industry sectors.

EMEA had a particularly strong year and accounted for 39% of turnover. Americas were a close second at 35% despite a flat Latin American market due to the ups and downs in the local economies. Asia Pacific brought in the remaining 26% of revenue.

Rawlinson singled out the capital markets practice, which saw a significant increase in IPO activity, the international trade group, which was particularly busy advising on sanctions, as well as the employment and antitrust practices. However, he added: ‘You really have to be firing on all cylinders to make sure there is this steady growth across the firm.’

Bakers has been on an unusually high number of large mandates in recent months, such as Chinese internet giant Tencent’s €2.1bn acquisition of videogame publisher Ubisoft from Vivendi and Turkish freight shipping operator UN Ro-Ro’s €950m sale to DFDS. It also advised German company Knauf on its $6bn proposed takeover of USG Corporation as well as DK Telekommunikation and a Macquarie-managed consortium on the $6.7bn takeover of Danish telecoms business TDC.

The year also saw Bakers make a highly significant step towards its stategic goal of integrating along three profits centres in Europe, America and Asia by 2020 as it agreed a deal to unite the bulk of its EMEA business into a single pool. Although Germany and France stayed out of the grouping, Rawlinson said the ‘overwhelming majority’ of the partnership wanted a more integrated firm and promised there would be updates on that front within the next 12 months.
firms 
august 2018 by JordanFurlong
The Cadwalader Cabinet, A Machine Learning Research Platform | Artificial Lawyer
to hear about the firm’s custom-built legal research and knowledge management platform that leverages machine learning, known as the Cabinet.

The Cadwalader Cabinet provides analysis of US financial regulation and the firm has also just announced the release of a new version of its subscription service. It’s a great example of a law firm – and a pioneering partner – taking legal innovation into their own hands and creating something of value for the firm’s lawyers and the clients. Artificial Lawyer asked Lofchie if he could please tell us some more.
robo  firms  innovation  km 
july 2018 by JordanFurlong
Updated: Facebook confirms it is to buy Allen & Overy Fuse startup Bloomsbury AI | Legal IT Insider
Facebook is buying Bloomsbury AI – one of the early stage companies currently resident in Allen & Overy’s incubator Fuse – according to a report from TechCrunch that has subsequently been confirmed by Facebook to Legal IT Insider.

Bloomsbury AI uses natural language processing to create virtual assistants that can be taught to read, reason and communicate (AI that Bloomsbury calls ‘Cape’), which Facebook is reportedly going to use as a part of its arsenal to tackle the growing problem of fake news. Cape allows developers to add question & answer functionality to websites and other documents.

Facebook’s press team contacted Legal IT Insider on 3 July to say: “The team behind Bloomsbury AI has agreed to join Facebook in London” and directed us to the following statement on Facebook Academics:
firms  innovation  startups  it 
july 2018 by JordanFurlong
Clifford Chance Looks to Break Out to Break Through With 2 New 'Innovation Units' | The American Lawyer
Clifford Chance’s recent launch of two new “innovation units,” Clifford Chance Applied Solutions and Clifford Chance Create, is an attempt for the firm to eke out the necessary space for experimentation. The Create unit will be charged with helping the firm flesh out its technology ecosystem and partner network, while Applied Solutions is dedicated to helping build and scale out technology systems for clients.

Visser explained that the firm decided to move forward in creating these innovation units after deploying a MiFID II compliance tool co-constructed with Neota Logic, where it saw the potential to scale and monetize the venture.

“We see a fantastic opportunity to monetize experience in tech solutions. We have to make sure we’re acting on those lessons learned,” Visser said of the experience.

To do that, the firm opted to create these two divisions, each headed by Visser, to operate slightly outside of the firm’s traditional leadership structure.

“If you really want to do this successfully, you need to have in your ecosystem people who are really focused on customer satisfaction and product development, all the skills that you would typically expect in a software-based or subscription-based environment, but which are not necessarily present in our normal law firm ecosystem. It’s really a different mindset and a different way of working,” Visser explained.
firms  innovation  startups  it 
july 2018 by JordanFurlong
The Business Development Dilemma: Do Firms Get What They Pay For? | The American Lawyer
They say they want business developers with a strategic, client-centric mindset to go shoulder to shoulder with partners and move the revenue needle. What they get are marketing generalists insulated from buyers (except when pinning on name tags at client events) and smothered under a haystack of scutwork so deep they can’t find the needle, let alone move it. That’s the crux of the business development fallacy.

There are exceptions. They are, however, few enough and far between enough that they prove the rule: Look too closely and Big Law business development looks a helluva lot like marketing.

This is different from “real” companies, where business development (sales) is distinct from marketing. At law firms, the functions are mashed up. Business development is distinguished not by dollars-in-the-door prowess, but by proximity to practice leaders. By any other name, however, it’s an elaborate species of sales support.

Much ado about nomenclature? No. There are real consequences to dishing up business development goulash. Nor is it a matter of bad faith. Firm leaders and business development professionals are earnest in their efforts to get it right. But it’s hard to ignore so many of the wrong people doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons.
firms  bizdev  marketing 
july 2018 by JordanFurlong
Law Firm Panels, Part II: Are Clients Demotivating Their Law Firms? | The American Lawyer
To us, the three management practices driving especially high panel return on investment are all about creating the right balance of enfranchisement and competition: law firm summits, competitive bids (done sparingly and well), and structured feedback. (To these we would add greater use of flat fees, as discussed in the first Thought Leaders finding, and retaining the types of firms that are especially high performing, as discussed in the second Thought Leaders finding.)

It’s admittedly simple, but few clients regularly engage in these practices. Note that the best outside counsel enjoy working with these clients the most: these lawyers are rewarded for strong performance with more legal work. And the return on investment to clients is impressive—as noted in each of the charts above, the benefits relate not only to quality but also to cost.

And this is something we’ve found at AdvanceLaw in general as we help our GCs find and retain counsel: partners receiving the best feedback on quality, expertise and responsiveness typically earn the best feedback on efficiency. Clients can, through the right practices, have their cake and eat it, too.
clients  firms  metrics 
july 2018 by JordanFurlong
Associate Starting Salaries: The Week the Firewall Failed? | The American Lawyer
There’d be a certain justice in these increases if the only firms damaged were those who made the precipitous moves. Alas, this is unlikely to be the case. Rather, firms of comparable stature now come under increased pressure to self-harm also. Where will it stop? Reed Smith, ranked 81st by PPP among the Am Law 200, have laid down a new Greenberg-like marker by suggesting they are disinclined to move citing ‘interests of clients’. It’s 40 firms lower in PPP rank than where the firewall could have been set, but hopefully one will emerge.

Middle Law has a set of challenges distinct from those of the high-profit elite. Facing these challenges would be helped by uncoupling the cost structure of the two segments. The opportunity was there to do it. It may well have been blown. There have probably been comparable moves in other industries, but they don’t flood to mind.
laterals  compensation  firms 
june 2018 by JordanFurlong
As Big Law Floods Regional Markets, Will Local Firms Sink or Swim? | The American Lawyer
While some smaller law firms have been absorbed, Esposito said, the number of local and regional firms has not significantly diminished.

“For those clients who need lawyers with a specific type or heightened level of expertise or national and/or global office locations, a large firm with a higher rate structure is the right choice, and often a necessity,” Esposito said in an email. “On the other hand, there are many clients whose needs do not require a certain expertise or geographic legal presence, and those clients have more options, often directing their work to local/regional law firms with lower, more flexible rates.”

As a result, she said, midsize firms have had the opportunity to “flourish,” increasing in size and client base.

In Charlotte, a number of large regional firms were acquired by larger market entrants, said Huse, who previously worked as an in-house law firm marketing professional. According to ALM Intelligence, the number of NLJ 250 law firms with a Charlotte office has more than doubled since 2001. But the local firms that stayed independent were able to use their rates as a point of competition, Huse said.

“Our rates are much different than the New York law firms,” Huse said. “It all boils down to those rates and relationships.”

To maintain the relationships, she said, firms must “take the pulse of the market” and figure out what niche client need they can fill.
regional  firms  competition 
june 2018 by JordanFurlong
Largest, Most Pedigreed Firms Underperform on Service Quality Compared to Other Firms | The American Lawyer
As to how it’s possible that the largest and most esteemed firms have been doing so well if they are not consistently delivering the best client service, we have a few thoughts.

First, the growing size and profitability of the largest and most pedigreed firms, and their corresponding growth in associate to partner ratios, may have reached a tipping point in the past few years—and until that point this wasn’t materially impacting service quality. On the flip side, some of the firms in the Am Law 21 to 200 only recently reached a size that gave them enough depth of expertise in key practice areas to handle high-stakes work; so there were fewer options for clients looking to deviate from big, branded firms.

Second, switching costs in the legal industry are high—incumbents know the client and have institutional knowledge—so change happens at a much slower pace. Related, some legal matters have long tails and switching firms mid-course is especially difficult. And remember, it is not that the large, pedigreed firms are performing poorly (just, on the whole, not as well as other firms).

This brings us to the third and most important reason for the disparity between firm performance and firm success. It’s that the legal market has an information problem: we don’t know which firms are performing better, so we are forced to default to brand (and high cost) as proxies for quality. But that is changing, as discussed in this Above the Law article. Clients, in essence, are finding out that the blue chip firms of the past are not necessarily the blue chip firms of the present (and future). Likewise, the “insurance” rationale for choosing certain firms for high-stakes work based on historical reputation should dissipate over time (but won’t disappear).
clients  firms  rankings  quality 
june 2018 by JordanFurlong
The Faculty Lounge: A Glimpse at the Future of BigLaw
The view from 30,000 feet is pretty clear:  Weil Gotshal has officially adopted policies giving itself room to retain a broader range of developing lawyers for a longer time and reward them according to their usefulness and profitability without constraints from an artificial partnership “track.”  It has done so by imposing a formal structure designed to support that approach to retention and promotion by offering lawyers they consider worth keeping general assurances that, at least for the next few years, they are likely to be retained so long as they continue to work hard and improve, and their services are needed.  In reality, this is not a change to the firm’s “partnership track” at all; it’s simply a formal confirmation that what used to be a “partnership track” disappears into the underbrush at a point you can see from the starting line, rather than inevitably ending at a fixed point in plain view as it once did.
partners  firms  leverage 
june 2018 by JordanFurlong
Big Law partners aren’t dumb: they’re just not in the room (054) | Legal Evolution
Over the following year, Casey wrote his book because he understood something worth restating here today: most clients really do not ask. There are a handful of clients who give very good talks at conferences about the change imperative facing us all. Others give extensive interviews explaining the broad challenges of the industry. Most of this group is in the vocal minority.

From time to time, a scathing denunciation of firm behavior by a client might be quoted with attribution, but the veneer of civility ensures that no names are mentioned. In other instances, clients will register their displeasure through some strongly worded but anonymous comments to reporters about things like associate compensation. For the most part, clients continue to give tepid grades to firms in anonymous surveys and scorecards.

But by and large, the majority of clients aren’t holding direct conversations with their relationship partners at their primary firms about what they specifically want. This much has been apparent for years to close readers of the Altman Weil survey: below is another side-by-side view of how CLOs and law firm leaders have answered the question about corporate pressure on law firms to change.
clients  firms  innovation 
june 2018 by JordanFurlong
Law Firm Panels, Part I: Are They Designed to Fail? | The American Lawyer
While new relationships tend to start off well, that warm glow seems to fade after an initial honeymoon period. Performance tends to bounce back over time (though not always permanently), but even then, the data may reflect what’s known as survivorship bias. Matters on the right side of the chart reflect higher performance in part because of a thinning of the herd, as clients eventually stop working with some of the underperformers.

Now, the post-honeymoon dip (whether a firm is on a panel or not) may not seem like a large difference statistically, and it isn’t for any of the individual metrics. But the overall trend showing declining performance on all measures is meaningful and telling. It reinforces that without effective management, firm complacency or underperformance is not only a possibility, but a likelihood.
panels  convergence  firms  clients 
june 2018 by JordanFurlong
A playbook for innovation magic (052) | Legal Evolution
The core insight embedded in Rogers Diffusion Curve is that the adoption of new ideas occurs in a specific order through a social system comprised of five distinct segments. See Post 004 (introducing diffusion curve); Post 007 (explaining adopter types). Rogers’ research eventually found its way to Silicon Valley and got relabeled the Technology Adoption Life Cycle. See Posts 024–026. Along the way, technology marketer and consultant Geoffrey Moore added a key modification: a material gap, or “chasm”, between early adopters and the early majority. If a company can “cross the chasm”, commercial success becomes inevitable, as sales then occur largely through a social process of one peer imitating another.

To boil it down, Rogers proves out the science, while Moore provides the playbook. This one-two punch dramatically increases the odds of successful innovation adoption. But let’s keep it real: This is a lot more work–and deeper thinking–than law firms are used to.

One of Moore’s most useful adaptations to Diffusion Theory is the use of buyer personas to correspond with each adopter type. Moore’s book Crossing the Chasm is peppered with many detailed narratives about the trials and tribulations new product teams encounter in their efforts to sell to each persona/adopter type.  The persona approach is a profoundly powerful way to design a product or service offering that the target end-user finds irresistible.

Below is a summary of how to apply Moore’s buyer personas to the legal market.
innovation  firms 
june 2018 by JordanFurlong
Conversations with #BigLaw Chief Innovation Officers (CINOs)
To be honest, some of these chats are confusing as it is clear that the role has not been really thought out by anyone. Others quite frankly are frustrating as the person seems to “know it all” and is waiting for the firm (and the world) to catch up. Thankfully though a handful are awesome dialogues wherein we share insights, thoughts on how to succeed, and share tidbits on surviving and thriving inside BigLaw as one of these leaders (hint: just as innovation and strategy are unevenly understood and appreciated within a firm, so too will these roles) (a related hint: do not seek the spotlight but do not linger in the shadows).
innovation  firms 
june 2018 by JordanFurlong
Is your Managing Partner afraid of the partners? | Adam Smith, Esq.
Now we can get back to the Managing Partner.  

When you contemplate making the decision that is certain to invite dissension, you need to be prepared to discuss the principles of Hirschman’s organizational construct plainly and directly.  You will (I assume!) have offered ample opportunity for “voice” ahead of time, so that leaves the unexercised options on the table for your partners at two: “exit” or “loyalty.”

You need to make it clear to them the binary decision in front of them.  If they choose “exit,” everyone lives. It’s a free, and large, country, with a lot of law firms out there.  If they choose “loyalty,” they must understand its full implications. And you must be prepared to call them to account if they cut corners on loyalty. And above all you need to have that conversation utterly free of self-interest or self-regard. If your provocative decision is truly in the long-run best interests of the firm (we can stipulate to that, can we not?), then that is the end of that inquiry.  Its implications for your tenure or the voiced attitudes of your partners are not properly admissible in your thinking.  

And if you have “admitted” them into your decision-making, that means you’ve permitted yourself to be afraid of your partners.

Ultimately, of course, this calls on you to live out the indissoluble link between leadership and courage.  As one who knew something about leadership with existential stakes and constituents who had already tried to play the exit card put it:
leadership  firms  partners 
june 2018 by JordanFurlong
A Race to the Bottom for the AmLaw 200 and Below? Doesn't Have to Be. | Rainmaking Oasis, LLC
Four significant industry surveys were released in the month of May:  Citi 2018 Q1 Law Firm Survey, the 2018 Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition Survey and the 2018 AmLaw 100 and AmLaw 200 reports. There was some discrepancy in how recent findings were conveyed or interpreted, but they shared several common themes related to demand, revenue and profitability:

Overall, demand growth surged in Q4 2017 and continued in Q1 2018, but collections slowed down, and expenses grew, for many firms negating revenue growth (Citi report)
The elite firms, the largest firms and the most profitable firms continued to pull away from the majority – this was true in both the AmLaw 100 and the AmLaw 200 groups and certainly between the groups:
The AmLaw top 50 reported the best results in Q1: AmLaw 100 saw a 6.3% growth in PPP
15 of the top 20 most profitable firms were based in NY; profit margins for the top 20 ranged from 47-65%
There was 5.5% revenue growth for AmLaw 100 firms in 2017 compared to a .2% decline for the AmLaw 200, although the top firms in the AmLaw 200 group saw an increase in 2.7% which is better but still only half of what the AmLaw 100 average increase was
8 of the second hundred firms had revenue growth of 10% and another 22 had revenue growth of 5%, but 32 firms saw revenue shrink (AmLaw 200 report)
Volatility in the market is still present: 47% of firms saw a decline in revenue in Q1 (Citi report) and 27% saw demand decline in 2017 and Q1; most firms have seen up and down trends in demand and revenue growth from quarter to quarter and year-to-year
The trend immediately following the 2009 fall-out of work flowing to the second 100 firms as a better cost alternative has ceased for the most part
data  firms  clients 
june 2018 by JordanFurlong
Barriers to tech adoption in BigLaw - Remaking Law Firms
echnology has reshaped and will continue to reshape the way in which legal services are delivered. The successful firms will be those who are able to harness the power of technology and combine it with the people in their organization to deliver measurable results – both to clients directly and to improve internal business processes. Those who achieve success will do so not because they simply buy a piece of software but because they thoughtfully approach and deal with these, and other, barriers to adoption.
firms  it 
june 2018 by JordanFurlong
Confusing conversations about clients (048) | Legal Evolution
That said, Type 4-6 clients are heavily constrained by the adoption decision process.  Unlike Type 1-3 clients, where one person makes the buy decision, legal departments have to be much more deliberate. In theory, the general counsel presides over the budget and has the authority to spend it.  Yet, GCs have many items on their plate. Therefore, decisions regarding legal department systems are often delegated to a lieutenant. Because systems are not part of a lawyer’s formal training, the lieutenant has to climb a learning curve. Once an adoption decision is made, successful implementation will likely require major investments in change management. Cf. Post 008 (discussing prevalence of “massive passive resistant (MPR)” in corporate legal departments); Post 047 (emphasizing need for strong leadership to successfully implement law firm scorecards). This can strain the relationship between the deputy and GC.
clients  access  innovation  firms  robo  infographics 
may 2018 by JordanFurlong
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