JordanFurlong + management   80

Explaining Elevate’s Recent Acquisitions (088) | Legal Evolution
We thought long and hard about where our gaps were. We didn’t want to poach from our competitors, so we decided that the best way forward was to invite seasoned leaders to join Elevate, by persuading them to tie their rafts to ours. We then asked customers (even including those that had decided not to work with Elevate) to tell us which entrepreneurs, managers, and companies they thought were our best competitors!

How would we finance all these organic investments and acquisitions in a way that ensured that management didn’t give up control? The law department of one of our customers, Morgan Stanley, introduced us to their private credit and equity group, Expansion Capital. The Expansion Capital team’s advice was helpful in designing our growth financing strategy. By the end of 2017, we closed a $25 million credit facility with them to finance organic investments and the strategic acquisitions.

The acquisitions we made were based on the following three pillars that have been at the heart of Elevate for many years: Strategy, Culture, and Customers.
process  competition  strategy  newlaw  management 
march 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
The Ten Barriers to Collaboration and Effective Client Development in a Law Firm  - PP&C CONSULTING
Several commentators have recently published research on the benefits of collaboration in fully maximizing client relationships in law firms. After 40 years of legal practice, 20 of which were spent in the upper management of one of the world’s largest law firms, I have reached some conclusions about forces that can act as a barrier to effectively collaborating to broaden and deepen client relationships, and consequently to maximizing the economic benefit from firm clients. Lest one conclude that I am not following my own advice on the benefits of collaboration, allow me to explain that some of my observations have been informed not only by personal observation but also by leading focus groups of law firm partners and subsequent interviews with the leaders of some of the largest law firms in the world.
management  leadership  strategy  collaboration  partners 
january 2019 by JordanFurlong
Law firms have debts to pay before investing in innovation
Let’s stretch the analogy further and look the forms of debt that many law firms have accrued:

Technical debt: over the past 2–3 decades law firm have acquired and installed layers upon layers of operational systems. And then added more layers to make them work together, as they are all from different providers on different platforms. And then added more layers to extract value from them, such as BI and analytics tool. And for some firms, this is on top of custom-coded software undoubtedly containing some technical debt of it’s own. This is a very complex and expensive challenge, which creates drag and friction in operations. 💰

Data debt: within these systems lies a vast amount of business and practice information. In many law firms I’ve advised, we’ve encountered tens of millions of documents in DMS or RMS systems and hundreds of millions of time entries in billing systems going back many years. Unfortunately, over the years this data was not always curated, categorized or otherwise captured in ways that support new needs around business and practice analytics. It is a very expensive proposition to go retroactively update all of this data, and we can’t wind back the clock. 💰

Procedural debt: for decades, lawyers have “sold law” by the hour while non-lawyers did their best to support them. For reasons that have been well covered in the legal market, this is no longer tenable. But changing the way lawyers have always worked and how legal services are delivered to clients is a monumental challenge. Almost every professional, cultural and economic incentive in a law firm fights against this change, which makes it a very expensive and risky undertaking.💰

Structural debt: the law firm itself, usually a partnership operating on a cash-based model in which equity partners withdraw all profits each year, is also being challenged. How can a firm properly invest in its future, or pay down the debts I describe, in this model? Furthermore firms cannot accept outside investment thanks to ABA and state bar regulation, so their only recourse is to incur bank debt to cover the other debts, or to ask the partners to pay in themselves. This is a big ask. 💰
management  innovation  data  process 
november 2018 by JordanFurlong
The right leaders | Canadian Lawyer Mag
That requires the partners to buy in and for that to happen they need to be willing to be led by the managing partner or CEO, says Jordan Furlong, principle of Law 21 and legal market analyst and speaker based in Ottawa. Encouraging all the partners to forfeit a portion of their autonomy requires them to trust that person and accept guidance from them.

“I don’t think it matters that much what leadership structure you have in place. If the lawyers in the firm and the partners in particular don’t acquiesce at some level to being led and managed to some degree and some manner, it doesn’t matter what your leadership structure is,” he says.

Furlong sees that reluctance to be led as part of the culture of resistance in law firms to adopt the business model that sees a CEO at the top of the organization. At some point, the firm goes beyond simply being a bunch of lawyers working in close quarters, referring work back and forth and eating what they kill, but rather a business that requires a degree of business administration and management, he says.
jf  leadership  management 
september 2018 by JordanFurlong
Managing Partner Comp Expectations in a Record Financial Year | The American Lawyer
Structural Elements:

Compensation Interviews. Most firms understand the benefits of talking with partners about performance and compensation, but one important question is, is it better to do that before or after setting compensation? Firms sometimes surprise lawyers with a disappointing compensation decision, and then try to rationalize it after the fact. It has been repeatedly shown that post-compensation interviews rarely create satisfaction or understanding, much less change behaviors. Even among leaders who only do post-compensation discussions, it is common to find they dislike the process, they readily acknowledge it doesn’t work well, and yet they do it repeatedly because it is all they know.
It may sound illogical but talking to partners before setting their compensation produces dramatically better engagement, improved performance in the following year, and more effectively manages expectations. But they only work if firms do those interviews well, and unfortunately, perhaps only a quarter of all law firms meet that standard. Good interviews are two-way conversations, focused on helping the partner to be more successful. They explore each partner’s strengths and weaknesses and include a focused discussion of priorities for the coming year. To do that well, those conducting the interviews need to be adept at both listening and coaching (if you are lucky, you may find that 2 percent to 3 percent of your partners have those skills. That’s not a criticism, just a realistic assessment of the rarity of the skills).

Where do these interviews go wrong? Some leaders conduct compensation interviews like a deposition, and not surprisingly, the partners walk out with all the satisfaction of a typical deponent. Just as bad, some leaders sit in silence and let every partner describe how extraordinary they are at everything they do. That fails the most basic test of managing expectations or determining how to extract the best possible use of that partner’s unique skills and talents.
management  compensation  partners 
september 2018 by JordanFurlong
Classic: Four lessons in the art of motivating change - Remaking Law Firms
The first, more obvious point, is the need to meet people where they are and move in small steps. The second, more interesting point, is the embedded assumption in the analogy: that someone knows where we want Pigeon, Esq. to end up, and can place the real-world equivalent of food pellets in a neat path toward that destination.
For us at Seyfarth, real life turned out to be a bit more complicated than a box, and our path has been neither neat nor linear. In fact, our journey has led us to some places we would never have predicted. Because there is nothing neat or linear about the journey, the trick is how to make the elephant dance; that is, how can we be more agile and adaptive to the lessons we learn along the way?
change  management  leadership 
september 2017 by JordanFurlong
'Manual Tools' Define In-House Counsel's Legal Project Management, Survey Finds | Legaltech News
An Exterro survey found that while in-house is implementing better-structured legal management processes, most lag in tech adoption.
clients  process  management 
november 2016 by JordanFurlong
Perspective: What Law Firms Can Learn From a McKinsey Consultant | Big Law Business
firms are struggling because “expert work is misaligned with customer value.” He cited four reasons, all deeply embedded in the cultures and assumptions of the law firms, which, by word and deed, emphasized:

Expertise over service
Knowledge over management
“Craftwork” over continuous improvement
Individuals over teams.
What does that mean in practice? Bollard offered four examples of how the misalignment between service providers and clients manifested itself. They included:

Expertise was “valued for its own sake, rather than for contributing to customer value.”
Knowledge was shared via “ad hoc apprenticeship, [and was not] codified or shareable.”
Experts “own tasks” and fail to improve “the way organizations perform tasks.”
Finally, there was a glaring lack of teamwork, no “end-to-end ownership” of the client’s experience, and a failure to create and enforce “standard ways of working.”
firms  partners  management  change 
june 2016 by JordanFurlong
Prism Legal The Future of Legal Talent - Not Lawyers? - Prism Legal
n my view, there is a stronger case to treat lawyers as the transient and other professionals as permanent. I say that because of the current and likely future dynamics of the labor market for each category of professionals.

The lawyer market is transient now and likely to remain so. A robust temp lawyer market – from staffing companies to online market places – already lets firms easily flex the number of lawyers actively working on matters. Furthermore, lawyers are already demonstrably very transient: lateral moves occur daily. That we have so many temp services and laterals suggests the market already sees lawyers are fairly fungible. And with an ongoing lawyer oversupply, recruitment is not that hard. So continuing to flex lawyer counts will be easy.

Not so for other professionals. Law firms struggle now to find legal project managers and pricing professionals. Trends today suggest demand will continue to outstrip supply. Separately, much-coveted experts such as data scientists and cyber-professionals will have plentiful job options across industries for years to come. So finding and keeping these professionals will be harder than doing so for lawyers. That suggests law firms should work hard to entice other professionals to stay as permanent and long term employees.
talent  firms  flex  management 
april 2016 by JordanFurlong
Op-Ed: The Best Speech at LTNY On the In-House/Firm CIO Relationship (Part 1) | Legaltech News
. Many growing law departments are beginning to encounter the same challenges of scope and scale that large law firms have been struggling with for years. And they’re finding out that it isn’t that easy. Meshing people with process and technology is genuinely hard. It is even harder when many of those people are lawyers.
it  clients  process  management 
february 2016 by JordanFurlong
Comment: K&L Gates' Tony Griffiths on profit, delusion and how Big Law became obsessed with the wrong things |
In today's Big Law environment with its obsession with PEP, RPL, productivity enhancement and metric-based comparison, this sort of language comes close to heresy. However, if you strip away the startling rhetoric, the message is not so controversial. It simply means that a business's long-term viability depends upon constant reinvention through investment in innovative and differentiated client offerings. What is startling when you think about it, is how far Big Law has moved away from what I would argue is this basic truth in its focus on short-term consumption, particularly for and by its partners.
profitability  metrics  firms  leadership  management 
october 2015 by JordanFurlong
Valuing Managers: The Art of Paying Partners Who Manager the Firm | Ed Wesemann
The goals that a firm sets for its managers raise philosophical questions: Does the firm want to pay for actions or results? Assume, for example, that a practice group leader is responsible for a list of 10 things (such as conducting a number of client seminars, recruiting a lateral partner in some specialized area, and holding joint meetings with another practice group). Suppose the leader performs all 10 admirably, but the financial performance of the group deteriorates. How will the performance be viewed? Conversely, what if the practice group leader does nothing and through sheer happenstance the group prospers?
management  leadership 
march 2015 by JordanFurlong
9 ways to change the carnivorous partnership model and save BigLaw firms - ABA Journal
A not-uncommon phenomenon is the partner who trains and works his proteges up to the level of finally becoming a potential success as a stand-alone partner—and therefore a competitor for the mentor. So, in this Hobbesian world, proteges are counseled out before they have a meaningful relationship directly with any client of the partners during a career in which they have been actively discouraged from developing their own independent client base. Senior partner “mentors” become sovereigns who eat their young. Why do they do it? Because more equity partners potentially take away from the profit pie, creating competition in the area that the senior partner is most expert. Better to toss the juniors out and bring up another youngster until they reach the same level, repeating the cycle over and over.
partners  firms  compensation  management  strategy 
february 2015 by JordanFurlong
LEGAL FUTURES Riverview launches separate tech business as it targets in-house with software products
Riverview Law is setting up a separate business which will own and exploit the technology built by the alternative business structure over the last three years.
innovation  clients  management  process  it 
december 2014 by JordanFurlong
Predicting Legal Costs on Fertile Ground | Law Technology News
With models for predicting costs for specific types of matters, law departments can develop more accurate budgets and can better manage matters when costs significantly drift from predictions. Similarly, outside counsel can use analytics to create matter budgets, to manage how they staff matters, and to ensure that rates are competitive. Both parties can use analytics to develop workable alternative fee arrangements.
clients  metrics  pricing  management 
december 2014 by JordanFurlong
‘Watch Out For the Wall Street Firms,” and Other Advice From the Client Side - Law Blog - WSJ
Clients have a hard time keeping up with all the stuff they get sent from their outside law firms. Quick, timely updates on regulatory shifts or speeches by key figures, like the head of the Securities & Exchange Commission, are useful. Reams of glossy marketing material, not so much.
Big companies are “scheduling machines,” so plan accordingly. Want to invite some C-suite pals to the partner retreat? They’d be happy to swing by, Mr. Jordan said, but make sure you ask them waaaay in advance.
Watch out for the Big Four. Accounting firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers are “eating law firms’ lunch” when it comes to briefing clients on upcoming challenges—including regulatory and legal shifts. “They have armies of brilliant people who are focused on the business in the way that law firms, even the best ones, just aren’t,” Mr. Jordan said.
Be alert to the full range of client needs—not just bet-the-company stuff. Firms may be turning their noses up at “commodity” work because it fetches lower prices, but it still is a huge part of many clients’ dockets.
Big companies hire law firms fast, so don’t wait until one gets sued to pitch your business. “You have to talk to us now, before they hit,” Mr. Jordan said.
Spend more time with your clients. Relationships are more important than ever, so put in the work to cement those bonds.
Specific expertise is crucial. Don’t bury clients in a blizzard of press releases about one-off hires in various offices—instead, explain why your lawyers are best-suited to handle a particular matter or issue.
Bone up on your client’s industry, and make sure your partners do too, so you can advise them on what hurdles are lurking around the corner. If you can tell a chief executive how spending $500,000 now will save them from making a $2 million mistake later, “that’s value,” Mr. Jordan said.
Watch out for the Wall Street law firms, which in recent years have “really raised their game.” Instead of just kicking back and counting their millions, elite firms are increasingly offering valuable expert insight—“for no charge”—and also putting in shoe leather work. “They are coming to visit,” Mr. Jordan said, and offering to do more work on an alternative fee basis and making other changes to keep clients happy. “I’m not trying to bum you out, but you can’t underestimate them,” he told attendees.
clients  management  firms 
november 2014 by JordanFurlong
Practice Innovations Newsletter, October 2014 – Thomson Reuters
At Akin Gump, Brown works to develop creative pricing arrangements focused on meeting clients' needs. As a leading figure on pricing and legal project management, he has a wealth of knowledge and experience on pricing for legal services. He regularly meets with clients to determine the most appropriate pricing arrangements and to serve as a value-add resource. Also, in this role, he works with practice group leadership to identify and implement various efficiency-producing programs and projects, including legal project management, process improvement, practice innovation, alternative staffing, and strategic partnering.
pricing  innovation  management 
october 2014 by JordanFurlong
Prism Legal Legal Market and Large Law Firm Trends from TRI COO - CFO Conference - Prism Legal
Among the AmLaw 100, litigation has dropped from about 35% of firm business to under 30%.  Some of this is a result of transaction growth but some is a move to value firms and a move to non-traditional service providers. Profitability gap between transaction and litigation practices is growing.  Realization for litigation is below 80% but about 86% for transaction practices.
firms  management  innovation  pricing  process 
october 2014 by JordanFurlong
True Cost of an Employee - Attorney at Work - Attorney at Work
If you ask the head of most any law firm about the compensation for a given employee, you’ll likely hear something like “$15 an hour” or “$50,000 a year.” Of course the dollar figure is correct. But it represents only about 75 to 80 percent of total compensation. The hourly rate or base pay is just the starting point. While many industries track the cost or “burden” of an employee, numerous costs get buried and are not included in the equation.
management  firms  finances 
october 2014 by JordanFurlong
Reinventing The Law Business: Beyond Profits Per Partner — Embracing Volatility « Above the Law: A Legal Web Site – News, Commentary, and Opinions on Law Firms, Lawyers, Law Schools, Law Suits, Judges and Courts + Career Resources
Over at Wild & Not Crazy, something quite different is transpiring. Instead of eating their young to survive, the Wild & Not Crazy firm is saying, this is our time! We knew this would happen at some point and now it is here. This is a time of great opportunity. Our competition is reeling – look at what is happening to Stable & Fable! Wouldn’t it be great if we could expand and grow and snag some of those Other Partners getting whacked by Stable & Fable. How about if we:

Knock the compensation for “all” partners down by a third.
Recruit those really good – but screwed – Other Partners from Stable & Fable.
And try to market to their clients too.
Maybe now is the time to lower our rates – if we go down in cost and Stable & Fable goes up in cost, that might be just the thing to do to shake some business from the tree.
Acknowledge that times are tough now – and that tough times are when we expand and grow at the expense of the other firms out there that can’t stand the heat in the kitchen. Once the downturn is over, we will be stronger and bigger than ever!!!
strategy  leadership  management  firms 
october 2014 by JordanFurlong
Do Discounts Lead to More Past-Due Accounts? — Lawyerist
An analysis of the survey data found a correlation between law firms that discount and an increased number of past due client accounts.

If that’s true, it supports something I have long believed about offering discounts: don’t. My theory is that clients who ask for a discount have a tendency to devalue your services. If I am right, it seems reasonable to expect those clients to place a lower importance on paying you when the bill comes due.
pricing  bill  management  clients  solo 
october 2014 by JordanFurlong
Why the economics of free agency should worry partners - Beaton Capital
Everyone should read It Happens Like This, Ed Reeser’s 2009 analysis and prognostication about the lateral hire syndrome. And then read Ed’s 2012 five-part series on how profit is made in a law firm – and under what circumstances lateral hiring works for all concerned, not just the free agent, hired gun laterals. Ed Reeser is one of the few authorities on the topic – he brings economic and common sense to the issue. And he provides solutions.
firms  lateral  partners  management  compensation 
september 2014 by JordanFurlong
Book excerpt: What should law firms do to improve profitability and LPM? (Part 1 of 4) - Legal Business Development
I’ve been with the firm a little over a year, and part of the reason that the firm brought me in was that we needed to look at our operational infrastructure and basically get caught up with the rest of the AmLaw 100. We didn’t have the ability to really measure profitability. We could just barely measure it at the firm level and at the office level, but not at the practice level, not at the client level, or matter level. About three months ago we finally started using a business intelligence platform that allows us to measure those things, and we’re still trying to make that part of the culture. – Senior executive
firms  management  profitability  process 
september 2014 by JordanFurlong
Technology & The Future of Law: A Forecast in Four Acts | Expert Thinking @ Neota Logic
But, the elephant in the room is stamping and snorting and must be heard:

Innovation destroys hours.

Now, that’s bad wherever the majority of lawyers’ revenue is rates x our hours. Every hour saved is a dollar lost.
innovation  it  pricing  management 
september 2014 by JordanFurlong
Law Firm Billing Survey: Collections Conversations Leave Lawyers Uncomfortable | Business of Law Blog
The data suggests the expressed sentiment represents a sizable business challenge for small law firms since more than half report upwards of 39% of a law firm’s total client base is typically past due. While client financial hardship is most often cited as the primary reason clients are most often late on payment, there are notable indications that client communication, the value of the services and even sluggish law firm business processes are also factors.
management  collection 
september 2014 by JordanFurlong
Asset Alchemy-Turning WIP Lead into Gold | Edwin Reeser - JDSupra
Activity ratios have one foot planted in liquidity, one in profitability. The reason is they are based on assets (receivables, inventories, total assets) and their conversion to cash. For cash basis reporting, accounts receivable become income when collected — not when created (billed). Law firms have little other revenue generating assets, so receivables are a key. However, law firms do have a significant inventory of “potential” receivables, which is work in process (WIP). Managing receivables is generally recognized as an important, but WIP is less well understood. And it’s critical to survival of the firm.
firms  finances  management 
august 2014 by JordanFurlong
Part 3 of 3: The Next Normal – What Can Law Firms Learn from Netflix? -
Earlier this year, Netflix shared their story on how they've built a culture of excellence that has led to their extraordinary success. In a 127-slide PPT called Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility, Reed Hastings and Patty McCord detailed the company's approach to growth and talent management. As outlined in the HBR image above of Netflix's 5 Talent Tenants (courtesy of HBR via Twitter,) in essence, the company focuses on hiring only the best, compensating them accordingly and letting go those who do not consistently meet and exceed high standards. There are a number of key aspects to their approach that could be especially interesting and applicable to law firms who are determined to succeed despite the disruptive turmoil.

There are nine "core competencies" Netflix strives for in its employees:
1. Judgment
2. Communication
3. Impact
4. Curiosity
5. Innovation
6. Courage
7. Passion
8. Honesty
9. Selflessness
While many companies, and even law firms, es
talent  management 
august 2014 by JordanFurlong
Tax Reform Poses Challenges for Large Firms, Accountants Say | Legal Times
Firms could be required to restructure partnership agreements, secure financing for tax bills, and reexamine long-term growth strategies if the proposed legislation becomes law, PricewaterhouseCoopers' law firm services practice says.
firms  management 
june 2014 by JordanFurlong
Moneyball 2.0: The New, Team-Oriented Study of Baseball - Hayden Higgins - The Atlantic
As these team-level strategies are implemented and gain notoriety, some portion of the fan base will start to identify with general managers rather than players, and not just because of Brad Pitt’s winsome 2011 performance as Billy Beane. (This article doesn’t cover the smart work being done more on the financial and scouting sides of baseball. But those, too, center on the GM, and they’re catching on quickly.) The prevalence of fantasy sports, for example, is evidence that today’s fan is used to viewing the game from a managerial, even business, angle. The public availability of vast reams of data via sites like Brooks Baseball, combined with open online platforms of fan-created content (like Fansided), enable fans to imagine themselves making the decisions that managers and general managers make. Next year’s fan will lament, “I would never have signed him!”
metrics  productivity  management 
may 2014 by JordanFurlong
What’s next for law firm leaders?
“I’ve come around to the view that you can’t change behavior unless you change the compensation plan first.” Many partners won’t say it out loud, but I will: if it looks like changing behavior is contrary to a partner’s financial self-interest, it’s easy to find numerous objections that pertain to quality, or client satisfaction, or the infinite variability of legal matters. Fact is, it’s not a choice between making more money and making less money. If we have to change the compensation plans to emphasize different outcomes such as, say, profitability, client retention, and client satisfaction, and de-emphasize the longtime inefficient proxy for all of this, namely hours, then so be it. Good lawyers will continue to make good money.
compensation  innovation  management  leadership  firms  partners 
april 2014 by JordanFurlong
Tax overhaul threatens US firms with four-year cash drain but could boost global mergers
US law firms are facing a fundamental overhaul over the way they calculate and distribute their profits that could result in far higher short-term tax bills if controversial proposals currently before Congress are approved.
firms  management 
march 2014 by JordanFurlong
Your Monthly Law Firm Efficiency Metrics: Post 3 | Stacey E. Burke
Staff audit reports give a law firm a clearer picture of office workflow and productivity.  After running staff audit reports, use the data to determine:
metrics  talent  management  staff 
march 2014 by JordanFurlong
Your Monthly Law Firm Efficiency Metrics Guide: Post 2 | Stacey E. Burke
Databases are only as useful as the information in them.  Every month, law firms should run the following audit reports in order to confirm the accuracy of their database information.
metrics  management  data 
march 2014 by JordanFurlong
Your Financial Dashboard | Law Practice Management Section
Law firm financial dashboards should focus management and partners on those key performance indicators (KPIs) that are critical to the success of the firm. Because we tend not to use that which we don’t understand, the presentation of the information must be in a style—that combination of words, numbers and graphs/charts—that is most meaningful to the audience. As with a car dashboard, too many gauges simply distract and lessen their value—and warning lights may be ignored until it’s too late.
finances  management 
september 2013 by JordanFurlong
Treat your business like a business: I | Adam Smith, Esq.
he problem is that virtually no firm I know is taking this seriously—which means acting on it. The problem is very simple: We do not treat our businesses in a business-like fashion. Shall I specify the bill of particulars?:
The vast majority of lawyers, in their heart of hearts, have little or no respect for non-lawyers. A substantial minority make no bones about expressing this.
Lawyers believe they could do anybody else’s job, probably better than that person’s doing it right now truth be told, whereas nobody else could possibly do their job.
In far too many firms, the degree of respect and trust given to Managing Partners, the Executive Committee, and even office managing partners and practice group leaders, is inversely proportional to how much time those people spend actively managing as opposed to practicing law. In other words, the more cavalier those firm leaders seem to be about their managerial roles (we’re describing actual behavior here, and not admissions against interest except in the most egregious cases), the better the rank and file seem to like it.
The apotheosis of this attitude—when, as the Washington DC gag has it, someone committed the gaffe of inadvertently telling the truth—was in 2007 when Mort Pierce was running Dewey Ballantine while reportedly billing 3,000 hours/year, and he delivered the immortal statement to The Wall Street Journal: “Management is not my passion.” We now know how that turned out for the firm. And, not so incidentally, do any of you doubt that any Fortune 500 CEO who said that would be frog-marched out of the bu
firms  management 
september 2013 by JordanFurlong
Law firms in the great recession: looking for change in all the wrong places - ABA Journal
The second level is in the definition of what the "right" things are that firms should be doing: specifically, a very definite, clear and uncompromising definition of a moral "right" thing that is communicated to all and embraced and adhered to by all with rigor. It is through the pursuit and achievement of the "right” thing that the culture of a firm is built, and the team commitment by people to each other and for each other can be framed to achieve everything else that matters in the enterprise.
firms  purpose  management  leadership 
september 2013 by JordanFurlong
Definitely Mabey: Current thinking of U.S. small to mid-size firms (Canadian standards) ~ Stephen Mabey ~ Applied Strategies, Inc.
Most important:

• Initiating changes necessary to ensure long-term success: 7.61
• Building and maintaining consensus among partners: 4.95
• Managing day-to-day administrative affairs of the firm: 3.83
• Promoting and encouraging sharing, teamwork, and cross selling: 3.83
• Defining and implementing long-term strategic objectives: 3.72
• Dealing with underperforming equity partners/shareholders: 1.00

Most time spent:

• Managing day-to-day administrative affairs of the firm: 8.23
• Building and maintaining consensus among partners: 6.05
• Promoting and encouraging sharing, teamwork, and cross selling: 2.98
• Dealing with underperforming equity partners/shareholders: 2.90
• Initiating changes necessary to ensure long-term success: 2.16
• Defining and implementing long-term strategic objectives: 1.19
leadership  management 
june 2013 by JordanFurlong
Loneliness at the Top: Managing Partners’ Scary Balancing Act | Pam Woldow's At the Intersection
Even if the issue of MP compensation plays out on an ad hoc basis (perhaps because of where the MP is in his or her career path), all parties’ expectations must be discussed, negotiated and formalized.  This is not the time for avoidance, conflict aversion and vague hopes that things turn out okay if left alone; the road to hell indeed frequently is paved with misapprehensions about the scope and duration of one’s colleagues’ good intentions. The result is bitterness both on the part of leaders who feel their contribution has been unvalued and on the part of partners who feel that past incumbents are taking an unduly protracted compensation free ride.
leadership  management  firms 
may 2013 by JordanFurlong
Survey: Firm Leaders Admit Downturn's Permanent Impact
Nearly 96 percent of the survey's respondents said the focus on improved practice efficiency is another trend that has become entrenched, while 78.6 percent said they expect to face increased competition from such non-traditional sources as Internet-based legal providers and project outsourcing companies. Nonetheless, only 45 percent of respondents said their firms have made significant changes to improve efficiency. According to Clay, firms may need to rely on more contract attorneys in order to increase efficiency, improve profit margins, and reducing client costs.
management  pricing 
may 2013 by JordanFurlong
Ten Things I’d Do Differently as a Law Firm CEO
Contrary to what you may have heard, the law firm model isn’t dead.  Nor is law firm growth.  But law firms and law firm leaders stubbornly adhering to outdated models are gasping for their last breath.  The modern law firm can thrive, but not if we pretend it’s still 2007.  Or 1995.  Or 1975.  The future is now.  You can’t do nothing.  Are you ready to lead?
leadership  management  innovation  pricing 
april 2013 by JordanFurlong
Why Pricing Billable Work May Be Too Important to Leave to the Lawyers
Lawyers have trouble talking about money. That's a gross generalization, but it's one I've come to after spending the last month listening to partners, in-house counsel, and the latest breed of expert who is helping firms, the pricing specialist. Some of this is personal: Embarrassment, anxiety, introversion, and habit all play their parts. Together they help explain why the hourly rate thrives and why so many arguments about legal costs are beside the point. It's easier to quibble about marginalia—why is there a third second-year on this file—than to address the heart of a matter: What's this worth to me, and can we afford to buy it or produce it for that price?
management  pricing 
december 2012 by JordanFurlong
The Next Step for Lowering Law Firm Operating Expenses
Law firms have been challenged with developing pricing for alternative fee arrangement transactions. As each transaction presents certain nuances, the risk associated with ensuring an acceptable level of profit has increased over time. Some firms take a back-of-the-envelope approach to approving AFAs while other firms have developed proprietary software applications to address this information requirement. The risk associated with pricing AFA matters can be significantly reduced by implementing an off-of-the-shelf solution for data mining financial information for past transactions. This tool provides law firms with historical information with which they can establish reliable pricing for AFAs.

The nine aforementioned innovative applications of technology are but a sampling of what lies ahead for law firms that embrace technology as a tool with which they can bring improved performance and cost efficiencies to their operation. The demand for delivering exceptional legal services at competitive rates will continue to drive new applications of technology for law firms.

Hal M. Stewart is Chief Operating Officer of Chadbourne & Parke. He is reachable at 212-408-5501 or

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* Microsoft

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january 2012 by JordanFurlong
The law is far too important to be left to lawyers | QualitySolicitors
I have no idea whether this superiority complex comes from their legal training or whether it’s just that people with a strong sense of their own importance become lawyers, but it manifests itself in that objectionable habit of calling every non-lawyer in a firm ‘support staff’. So nefarious is this practice I have even seen the ‘them’ and ‘us’ divide referred to as ‘fee earner’ and ‘fee burner’. A nice way of making your staff feel valued and motivated.

So I was very pleased to see that Stephen Mayson had taken issue with the distinction, describing it as ‘horrendous’ and ‘insulting’ as well as a barrier to recruiting the best people. Having been on the receiving end of it I can attest that it is pretty demoralising knowing you will always be a second-class citizen in an organisation no matter how much work you put in. As Mayson went on ‘unless we can get to a point where everybody in the business is treated as equivalent and as being of equal value to the business, we actually have not a leg to stand on when it comes to recruiting and retaining the best people right across the board’.
november 2011 by JordanFurlong
Low Return - The American Lawyer
If your firm suddenly adopted a pure lockstep compensation system, how many of your partners would not work as hard? When we've posed that question, respondents say that most of their partners would slack off. But when we ask those same partners how shifting the compensation scheme would affect their own behavior, they quickly say that it would have no effect.
management  compensation 
november 2011 by JordanFurlong
Letter From London: Why the Norton Rose "Merger" Debate Misses the Point
What makes a merger? That's the question being asked this week, after U.K. firm Norton Rose announced deals with Canada's Ogilvy Renault and South African firm Deneys Reitz. The combined business will rank as one of the world's top 10 firms by headcount when the three-way tie-up takes effect next June, boasting more than 2,500 lawyers in 38 offices worldwide and gross revenue of over $1 billion.
management  firms 
november 2010 by JordanFurlong - Staff Cutbacks Hit Law Firms' Professional Development Departments
More than half of law firm recruiting and professional development departments -- 51 percent -- lost staffers as a result of job cuts during that period, according to a new survey by the National Association for Law Placement. NALP queried professional development departments at 100 different law firms, and nearly 53 percent said their budgets decreased by 10 percent or more. Just 12 percent of the respondents said that their department had added staff in the past two years.
recession  management 
october 2010 by JordanFurlong - Are Non-Lawyers Edging Into Practice Group Leadership?
When Morgan Lewis & Bockius formalized its government relations practice last month into the new Washington government relations and public policy practice, it didn't select one of its many attorneys with political experience to run the group day-to-day, but rather hired a non-lawyer director to manage the practice.
management  leadership 
august 2010 by JordanFurlong
Strategic Legal Technology :: Lawyers v Firms - What’s the Right Amount of Staff Support?
In the old days of the billable hour, it might have been possible, in theory, to maximize (Revenue - Cost = Profit). In practice though, it is not so easy. An example illustrates this. Suppose a partner who bills $1,000 / hour does an all-nighter. Let’s say he needs support that, if he did on his own, would take him 6 minutes. Assume further that he would not bill for this ’support’ time. Paying a secretary to be available all night just for this partner costs far more than the $100 he bills in 6 minutes.

And in that example you begin to see the institutional v individual tension. Lawyers frequently demand support, even when the economics don’t support it. As a lawyer, if support is “free” to me, why wouldn’t I demand it - after all, I’m not the one paying for it. Economics 101 tells us that free goods generate too much demand. In the example, the firm should make the partner do the work on his own (gasp!).
management  metrics  pricing 
june 2010 by JordanFurlong
An Inside Take from the Outside: The Problems of Managing Lawyers
have just started reading Goffee and Jones’s excellent “Clever” addressing the difficulties of leading “the clevers”.

The book defines “clevers” as

“highly talented individuals with the potential to create disproportionate amounts of value from the resources that the organization makes available to them”

For my purposes though I am going to use a shorter definition: “lawyers”.

As well as obviously fawning to potential clients by flattering their oft-substantial egos, my reason for adopting that shortened definition is based not on my own ego being larger than Messrs Goffee and Jones but simply as so much of the book seems so relevant to the myriad challenges of leading lawyers. Witness the characteristics cited of “clevers” for instance:
november 2009 by JordanFurlong
Discussion: What will be the 21st Century Law Business Model | LinkedIn
The quality and depth of law firm management, at least by professional managers (as opposed to managers), has improved tremendously over the last two decades. Probably would not be hard to quantify by looking at professional qualifications and experience of top 10 non-lawyer managers across all firms then and now.

That said, law firms have not resolved the tension between individual and institutional incentives. In a lock-step partnership, that tension is minimized; once firms move toward "eat what you kill", it's very hard to align incentives. Coupled with the partnership form of governance, the two make it hard to manage firms like companies.
management  firms 
october 2009 by JordanFurlong
Herbert Smith trains staff to spot stress | News | The Lawyer
Herbert Smith has launched a training scheme to help its staff recognise the symptoms of stress and deal with mental illness. The news comes after LawCare, a health advice line for the legal profession, reported that the recession has led to record numbers of lawyers suffering from stress and depression. The Herbert Smith scheme, which was piloted earlier this year with ­partners and managers, is now being offered to all employees at the firm.
Bookmarks  wellness  management 
september 2009 by JordanFurlong
Fungibility – An Organizational Malaise « Corcoran’s Business of Law Blog
Otto has succeeded in doing one thing,” he said darkly. “He’s made it necessary for me to think about life without him. Once I started thinking that way, I realized it was possible. Now I’m thinking, what do I need this aggravation for… to pay this much for the job that cost me so much less last year? Sure, it’ll be hard to replace him. But nobody is irreplaceable. Sometimes I have to remember that.”
Bookmarks  management 
september 2009 by JordanFurlong
Lockhart Hornby - For Lawyers - Services - Technology and Firm Administration
RELATED SERVICES: TECHNOLOGY AND FIRM ADMINISTRATION. Lockhart Hornby provides advisory services on selection, purchase, setup and integration of technology systems and firm administrative functions. In connection with these services, we help clients identify and engage technology and operations vendors and service providers who will install systems and provide on-site services, including * computers, monitors, peripherals, printers, scanners, copiers, facsimile machines and network equipment, * backup & disaster recovery protection, * website development, * email systems - including BlackBerry or handheld email, * document management systems, * time/billing/accounting systems, * telecommunications and internet access services, * telephone systems, * electronic research capabilities, * practice guides and library materials, * employee benefits, * payroll
Bookmarks  innovation  management 
august 2009 by JordanFurlong
Legal Technology - Law Firm Cost Recovery Is Here to Stay
Based upon the shift in output from copies to prints, and the decrease in facsimile coupled with the explosion of scans, a firm is being forced to shift from the copy/fax cost-recovery model to a print/scan capture model. Failure to do so will mean declining cost-recovery revenue. The decrease in copy volume, which is the foundation of many firms' cost-recovery structure, is slowly disappearing, with the increase in print output replacing copy volume. Based upon our operational data, we estimate that once a firm networks its multifunctional devices, that firm will lose 30 percent of its "copy" volume to "print." Even though there is operational savings in shifting output from a printer to a multifunctional device, in most cases, the net savings will not be enough to offset the loss of cost-recovery revenue. In summary, the support services which were built on the copy/fax model will no longer produce the volume necessary to support themselves. This issue, coupled with clients' increas
Bookmarks  firms  management  pricing 
july 2009 by JordanFurlong
Agency Time: Work and Time in Interactive Agencies
This kind of thinking relates to my notion of how value is created. Those who sell their labour once to a firm are not as valuable as those that sell it a second time to a client. In this sense, the notion of employment itself has changed. If the purpose of the firm is not to employ people but to rent them out to other firms. The employment relationship, under this logic, is not about selling one’s labour to a firm but providing one’s labour to a firm to sell to yet another firm. In this logic, law firms (or design firms that bill by the hour) are simply temporary agencies!
Bookmarks  laterals  management  firms  pricing 
june 2009 by JordanFurlong - Law Firms Post-Recovery: How They'll Hire and Whom They'll Serve
Firms aren't going to go back to the same level of hiring for partner-track associates, Altonji said. Firms still need to hire for the traditional associate track because they will be future leaders of the firm, Nourian said, but there won't be as much of that hiring. Instead, firms will focus on staff lawyers with credentials maybe only half a step below the traditional associate level to help in a support capacity. "There's chiefs and there's Indians," Nourian said. "Somewhere down the pyramid you can have some folks who maybe aren't Ivy League grads." Those staff attorneys typically have fewer hours, capped compensation and different bonus opportunities, he said. While firms are loosening their traditional standards at the associate level through hiring staff attorneys, they are becoming all the more critical of partner-track associates and partners.
Bookmarks  laterals  future  recession  management 
june 2009 by JordanFurlong
I Stink, You Stink, We All Stink – A Note On Accepting Responsibility « Corcoran’s Business of Law Blog
We gleefully went about the task, amidst snickering like “Boy, it turns out all my people stink” and “I wish I could get new people.” As young managers heady with the wisdom bestowed on youth, we were as confident in our competence as we were dismissive of our employees. For most of us, there was no bell curve: most of our employees were poor performers in most categories. Then the instructor dropped the bomb. He characterized the grid as less an indictment of our employees than a report card of our own skills as managers. If we know what it takes to succeed in the roles, and we know which employees are not performing to expectation, then as managers we have an obligation to address the situation by providing the tools, training or alternatives so the employees can succeed. It’s not just sensible, it’s our fiduciary obligation as managers of the firm. I can assure you, the room was silent as those of us who gave such poor grades to our employees realized we had just been our own har
Bookmarks  management 
june 2009 by JordanFurlong
The Client Revolution: Lexis, coffee filters, and associates: law firms' overhead
My costs are my costs. They don’t change much month to month. I pay our rent, payroll, insurance, taxes, fees, supply costs, and so forth every month, and it comes out about the same each time. This is the cost of doing business, and as long as we can bring in enough revenue to cover it, then we’ll remain in business. Which brings me to associates and their time. Why do law firms feel the need to “pass along” the cost of the associates?
Bookmarks  laterals  management  pricing 
june 2009 by JordanFurlong
In Search of Perfect Client Service: But Who Insures My Profitability?
This is, at core, a view that clients must insure the firm's profitability. The article does not suggest that outside lawyers worry that they will make a windfall if something unexpected happens that reduces the work they need to do and increases their profit margin. So, for the outside lawyers, flat fees must be a win or break-even proposition for them to be acceptable. How quaint. This quaint view that their profits must be guaranteed infects many fee proposals. Silvio DeCarli, DuPont's Chief Litigation Counsel, notes that DuPont frequently gets fixed fee proposals where the firm makes money if DuPont loses the case and makes even more money if the Company wins.
Bookmarks  management  pricing  clients 
june 2009 by JordanFurlong
Chuck Newton: The Chain And Whip Of The Slave Driver
Stated in short, every dime in debt service you pay each month is a dime less than you have to spend the money (debt free) on what you want and need.
Bookmarks  management  debt 
june 2009 by JordanFurlong
Linklaters launches managing associate diploma - Legal Week, legal news, comment, events and legal jobs
Linklaters is rolling out a bespoke diploma for its managing associates as part of the development of its Linklaters Law and Business School. The diploma, which launched last week, will see all of Linklaters’ 120 managing associates take part in the three-year scheme, during which time a personal development plan will be drawn up for all involved. The programme will consist of two parts – a core skills course taken just after promotion, followed by participation in a development centre 18 months to two years after promotion.
Bookmarks  laterals  management  leadership 
may 2009 by JordanFurlong
Management: The five deadly sins - Business, News - The Independent
Recent years have seen the downfall of one once-dominant business after another - General Motors, Sears Roebuck and IBM, to name just a few. In every case the main cause has been at least one of the five deadly business sins - avoidable mistakes that harm the mightiest business. The first and easily the most common is the worship of high profit margins and of 'premium pricing'. The prime example of what this leads to is the near-collapse of Xerox in the 1970s. Having invented the copier, it soon began to add feature after feature, each priced to yield the maximum profit margin and driving up the machine's price. Xerox's profits and stock price soared.
Bookmarks  management  pricing 
may 2009 by JordanFurlong
Compliance Building · Online Social Networking: Is It a Productivity Bust or Boon?
Although I am an advocate of open access, I do so with the caveat that you need to let the people in your organization know what is proper use and to monitor their compliance. I fear that many firms use blockage as their policy. That may have worked 10 years ago, but not today. You can just as easily access these sites from iPhone or blackberry as you can from a firm computer. Blocking does not stop the bad behavior that it is trying to prevent. Blocking merely changes the access method.
Bookmarks  facebook  management 
march 2009 by JordanFurlong
Your ABA: Risk management for law firms
With the advancing recession as well as recent disasters, both manmade and natural, devastating many businesses, is your law firm prepared for the worst? Anthony E. Davis, one of the co-authors of "Risk Management: Survival Tools for Law Firms, Second Edition," discusses the threats facing today’s law fi
Bookmarks  management 
december 2008 by JordanFurlong
State of the Profession Part I: The Disgust : InHouse ACCess
What well-run business in the service industry hires 50 kids right out of school and invests a fortune in them with the expectation that about 85 percent of them will not make it to their fifth year, and most won't make it to their second?.
Bookmarks  firms  management  clients 
december 2008 by JordanFurlong
More Partner Income
The idea of management teams within the legal industry is not a new idea, but it is one that has been tough to implement. In an ideal setting you would have one partner managing several associates, with responsibility for their utilization, development, and discipline. This way when an associate is underperforming there would be one partner to talk with, who should know all the ins and outs of what is taking place. That is not what we are seeing today. Generally you have an associate working on a multitude of partners’ matters. This creates various issues, among them multiple levels of discounting by responsible attorney, personality differences, and having to request additional work from multiple attorneys to meet billable hour targets%
Bookmarks  management  firms 
december 2008 by JordanFurlong
Editors' Blog: Editor's Blog: The cats fall in line
For an avowedly conservative profession, attitudes can change at a fair old pace in law. Diversity, race, corporate social responsibility – these are all issues where there has been a palpable shift in sentiment over recent years.
Bookmarks  management  innovation 
october 2008 by JordanFurlong
City firms scramble to offload office space as market drops - 13 October 2008
City law firms moving to new premises are facing the uncomfortable reality of paying above-market rents on new office buildings while struggling to sublet existing premises. The worst hit will be firms such as Reed Smith, which signed up for 155,000sq ft in Broadgate Tower in January this year, when prices were considerably higher than they are now. The firm is due to move into the building at the beginning of next year, but has yet to find a tenant for one of its ­existing buildings, Beaufort House in EC2.
Bookmarks  recession  management 
october 2008 by JordanFurlong
Resume booster: Plays well with others
Jerks and prima donnas need not apply. If you want a job at Morris, Manning & Martin, check your ego at the door. The Atlanta law firm has a "no jerks" policy — now don't spill your coffee — that everyone is expected to follow. Lawyers and support staff at the large firm are hired and later evaluated based on how well they work with others. Those who push the envelope — and there've been a few — are shown the door.
Bookmarks  laterals  management  innovation 
september 2008 by JordanFurlong
Strategic Legal Technology :: Experience Location on Steroids (More from IBM)
“This is management in a world run by Numerati. As IBM sees it, the company has little choice. The workforce is too big, the world too vast and complicated for managers to get a grip on their workers the old-fashioned way—by talking to people who know people who know people. Word of mouth is too foggy and slow for the global economy. Personal connections are too constricted. Managers need the zip of automation to unearth a consultant in New Delhi, just the way a generation ago they located a shipment of condensers in Chicago. For this to work, the consultant—just like the condensers—must be represented as a series of numbers. ”
Bookmarks  management  innovation  science 
september 2008 by JordanFurlong
Adam Smith, Esq.: An inquiry into the economics of law firms....
Recently I had the chance to sit down for a chat with a "lawyer's lawyer" in that his practice revolves around matters such as partnership agreements (their drafting and interpretation), fee disputes and malpractice litigation, and professional ethics and
Bookmarks  management  clients 
april 2008 by JordanFurlong
Gowlings goes corporate route for governance
In a bid to provide better client service, the law firm Gowling Lafleur Henderson has adopted a new management model that adds a twist to how law firms usually govern themselves
Bookmarks  firms  innovation  management 
march 2008 by JordanFurlong
Altman Weil blog - Cotterman on Compensation » Blog Archive » Transition of Managing Partner Compensation
Managing partner used to be the final act. Retirement afterwards was common. But today we see more and more fifty something managing partners who are ready to step down from that post, having held it for five to ten years. Still in their 50s, most do n
Bookmarks  management  partners  compensation 
february 2008 by JordanFurlong
Bloglines | My Feeds (78)
The enduring story of note, however, is the powerful rise of the UK's Magic Circle.
september 2007 by JordanFurlong
Latham & Watkins, LLP. - Firm Administration
Firm Administration Latham & Watkins has had a long history of innovation in the area of law firm management
Bookmarks  media  innovation  management 
july 2007 by JordanFurlong

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