For those of us in large law firms, we understand that Practice Group Leaders have the following responsibilities:

  • Develop a strategy for the Practice Group (PG)
  • Advance the business development of the PG
  • Ensure equitable distribution of work among the more junior PG attorneys
  • Identify attorneys within the practice who are struggling and find mentoring and coaching opportunities for them
  • Practice law at the same time

For Lathrop GPM’s Intellectual Property Group, Kate Tompkins can do all of these, except practice law. That’s because she is not a lawyer. She’s a business professional.

We’ve heard the phrase “law firms should be run more like a business.” Well, Lathrop GPM and Kate Tompkins are putting that phrase into action. Kate tells us how she landed this role, and how we may see more business operation professionals stepping up to lead the legal practice as other firms look to run more like a business.

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Information Inspirations

If you’re looking for the future of search, CaseText may have the answer with the help of BERT. In their new WeSearch product, CaseText’s Pablo Arredondo says that the conceptual search product will leverage the open-source neural network framework developed by Google called Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or simply BERT, to find related results not based on keywords, but through actual concepts. Bob Ambrogi runs through a few examples in his Law Sites Blog.

The patent office in China pulled about half of 2020’s applications recently due to irregularities. Many are saying that it is downright fraud and that it may have a worldwide impact on patents.

Slack rolled out, and then quickly rolled back a new feature that allowed anyone on Slack to DM anyone else on Slack. After a swift public rebuke on the potential harassment issues that this “feature” opens up, especially against women, Slack is rethinking the changes. Perhaps Slack would benefit from listening to lawyers like K&L Gates Partner Elisa D’Amico who specialize in understanding and fighting abuse on the Internet.

Video games are expanding into what is known as Synthetic Economies where gamers’ actions have economic effects both within the games and outside the games as well.

Bonus Inspirations

In support of March being Womens’ History Month, as well as the start of baseball’s Spring Training, check out this Twelve Six Podcast interview of Yankee’s beat reporter Lindsay Adler.

Also, check out how Kelp may save us all on the How to Save a Planet.

Listen, Subscribe, Comment
Please take the time to rate and review us on Apple Podcast. Contact us anytime by tweeting us at @gebauerm or @glambert. Or, you can call The Geek in Review hotline at 713-487-7270 and leave us a message. You can email us at As always, the great music you hear on the podcast is from Jerry David DeCicca.

Marlene Gebauer  0:06

Welcome to the Geek in Review. The podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal industry. I’m Marlene Gebauer.

Greg Lambert  0:13

And I’m Greg Lambert. We have a great guest today. Kate Tompkins is what most of us would call a practice group leader for the intellectual property practice group for Lathrop GPM. But what makes Kate unique is that she is not a lawyer. So she’s a business professional who is leading the practice group. You know, we hear a lot of comments about how law firms should be run more like a business and Kate seems to be doing just that with her practice group. She has such a great perspective and unique experience in the role and she has a very honest conversation with us about how things are going. So stick around for that discussion. But for now, let’s get to this week’s information inspiration.

Greg Lambert  0:59

Marlene, you may remember that we had Pablo Arredondo on the podcast as our second guest nearly three years ago.

Marlene Gebauer  1:08

It was he really the second guest? He was he was I remember working through all those technical difficulties.

Greg Lambert  1:16

Well, I jumped on the phone with him yesterday to talk about something brand new that they are testing out that CaseText and Bob Ambrogi wrote about it on his Law Sites blog. The brains there at CaseText are you know, they’re just continually coming up with these really innovative search tools. And quite frankly, things like their product, CARA, the brief analyzer, you know, that was basically copied by every other legal information search provider on the market.

Marlene Gebauer  1:44

That’s true. It’s true.

Greg Lambert  1:46

I think they’ve come out with the newest must have tool in legal research with a product called WeSearch. Pablo and I jumped on a zoom call this week. And we kind of geeked out over this the power of this tool which uses advanced natural language processing neural net technology to take a sentence that you or I might write and identify the concepts of that sentence and find other documents that match those concepts. So it’s not about keywords. It’s about concepts. So it’s really, really interesting. And Bob gives some really good examples of some concept results in his article. Well, Pablo walked me through some of the concepts behind the open source neural network framework developed by Google, which they call the Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or by the acronym BERT.

Marlene Gebauer  2:40

Who comes up with that? I mean, seriously,

Greg Lambert  2:43

somebody that really wants it to say, BERT.

Marlene Gebauer  2:45

It’s like, Who are these people? Come on!

Greg Lambert  2:50

I joked with Bob and Pablo, on Twitter that they need to add legal analytics multi directional to the front of that acronym so that it will actually spell LAMBERT.

Marlene Gebauer  3:00

Oh, nice. You know, and I gotta ask, like, what about Ernie? I mean, we got Bert and we got no Ernie Ernie gets no love. what’s what’s what’s wrong here?

Greg Lambert  3:10

So, Pablo, his mission is he wants it as easy for someone to access these neural networks, as it is to hand out yellow legal pads.

Marlene Gebauer  3:18

I just have to say that Pablo always has the best examples. That and that they just hit you right away. It’s like so you think about that yellow legal pad. And it’s like, okay, exactly.

Marlene Gebauer  3:32

So Greg, China, a country that in 2019 topped the US and filing the most patents of any other country appears to have canceled more than half of their invention patents for being fraudulent. The CNIPA, this is the Chinese version of the USPTO has ceased publishing patent application filing data on a statistic page and in his press releases. But it apparently has been releasing and maybe inadvertently filing data on an English version of its website. The English language data shows that there were only 530,127 invention patent applications filed in all of 2020. While earlier data shows there were over 1.2 million invention patent applications filed and that’s not including December. So 700,000 were removed from Chinese statistics for “irregularities.” And apparently this is lingo for fraudulent. It is suspected that the number of cancellation applications could actually be higher as presumably at least 100,000 invention patent applications were filed in December 2020. Now I can tell you my original source for this China Law Update pulled the article. And while Google references it in the National Law Journal, it doesn’t appear to be there either. Now there’s a lot to consider here, potentially lax review processes possible misinformation and fraud. If this is true, it has long reaching implications for the patent world. If the legality of patents is questioned on this larger scale, and for this sort of reason, will they actually provide the protections that they’re supposed to? I’d really love to hear from some of our former guests who operate in the space like Nicole Morris to opine. So maybe in the comments on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Greg Lambert  5:26

Yeah, that’s, that’s interesting. Well, I put the story and earlier today, and it is been a moving target. So. So by the time we release this episode, tomorrow morning, it may change again. So we’ll see how it goes. But Slack just turned itself into this full on messaging app by announcing this morning that anyone who is on Slack can direct message anyone else on Slack. And the idea is that Slack wants to replace business email, but the initial reaction from the industry has been this collective. Whaaaa? And, and my favorite, and this one has caused the story to to change throughout the day, was on Twitter, when people started asking, Did anyone ask women about this? Before you rolled it out? So again, I had to actually come back because slack was bombarded all morning on this. And they actually had to put out a statement that said, after rolling out slack Content DMs this morning, we received valuable feedback from our users about how email invitations to use the feature could potentially be used to send abusive or harassing messages, we are taking immediate steps to prevent this kind of abuse, and they go on about how they’re going to do some internal review. And then I heard later this afternoon, that they may just be pulling this all together. So I think you’re gonna have to have a second bite at the apple on this idea.

Marlene Gebauer  7:04

It’s just interesting, because, like, you know, again, I mean, when you’re talking about email, there are you know, filters and things and and and particularly with business email, I mean, you get a lot of spam filters. And so you know, certainly certain things come through. Now, I don’t know that Slack has really thought that part through.

Greg Lambert  7:23

They did not I can I can answer that for you. So But what was interesting was coincidentally, I ran across an interview this afternoon from K&L gates partner Elisa D’Amico, about her work on fighting against online abuse. And she talks about her work in … I love this description that she works in the bowels of the internet, which most people would just call it the internet. And how she approaches some of these legal issues on online abuse, specifically against women. And one of the things that she suggest is that platforms work with people like her to better understand the issues. And I think Slack would have really benefited by taking her advice before announcing the the change and then having to retract the, their latest feature. So

Marlene Gebauer  8:21

Yeah, I think they got ahead of themselves, you know, they were just so gung ho about like, oh, let’s connect everybody without thinking of all of the potential consequences and what to do about them.

Marlene Gebauer  8:32

So my last inspiration is economy design and collaboration based. So you remember playing those sim games, you know, you kind of had an alternative world and your avatar didn’t look anything like you at all? Well, games are now taking advantage of another reality economies, virtual economies that is. These are also called synthetic economies. They exist in a virtual world and use virtual coin and goods in the context of an online game. Now, these are fairly common. Roblox is one that I know quite well. You don’t have to purchase anything right away, you get goods and money by doing things. So farming or robbing banks, that’s actually true, or killing monsters. The problem is that monsters respawn. So there’s an unlimited supply of resources and therefore inflation. What’s interesting is that different game developers are testing out different monetary policies that will be acceptable to the community of players. So if the players don’t like it, they leave and if enough leave the game dies. Some games like Minecraft allow players and the AI to steal your stuff and the World of Warcraft allows for gold sinks. Both are game mechanisms that allow for resource removal and stabilize the in game economy. Another way from Roblox is to allow gamers to get paid for developing collective game assets paid for in Robucks. Now, this is a fun game scenario. But what might really be interesting is if we could apply this and test economic models for the real world, you know, have one of those gamer tournament’s and see who develops the best model.

Greg Lambert  10:15

Yeah, that sounds like fun. So, okay, I’m going to take a personal privilege this week and mentioning nonlegal podcast episode that I really enjoyed. And with March being Women’s History Month, and this being the beginning of spring training for baseball, there was this great interview of Lindsay Adler, who is a Yankees beat reporter for the Atlantic, who was interviewed by Major League Baseball pitcher Collin McHugh on his Twelve Six podcast. While they touched on the issue of Lindsey being a woman reporter covering a sport historically covered by male reporters, it went much deeper than that. And if you love baseball, Lindsey talks about how reporting on the sport is so different than being a fan of the sport. And her need to analyze and look for trends as well as understanding what is important to her as a reporter isn’t necessarily what’s important to the fans reading her article. So if you get a chance, go check out that Twelve Six podcast,

Marlene Gebauer  11:16

I’d like to share one as well. It’s called How to Save a Planet and the title pretty much sums it up. The host journalist Alex Blumberg and science and policy nerd, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, walk us through different scenarios of what people are doing and what we can do to protect our environment. Now so far my favorite episode is a two parter about how kelp is going to save the world. Now their guests backstory is great. He lives in a lean to on a golf course selling pot during college. For real, it also in all seriousness, kelp could be the new soy but much healthier for us and the planet. And they even provide information how you can get into kelp farming. So that wraps up this week’s information inspirations.

Marlene Gebauer  12:08

Law firms should run more like a business we’ve heard the saying for at least the past decade. Well, Lathrop GPM is putting that concept into action by placing today’s guest in charge of its IP practice area. So our lawyers ready for someone who didn’t go to law school to step into a leadership role to guide them on the business side of things? Today’s guest gives us some insights into how that process is going so far.

Greg Lambert  12:34

We’d like to welcome Kate Tompkins, Director of Practice Management – Intellectual Property from Lathrop GPM. Kate, thanks for taking the time to talk with us.

Kate Tompkins  12:43

Thanks for having me. I’m happy to be here.

Greg Lambert  12:45

So Kate, we talk a lot on this podcast about being creative and innovative on the business side of law. And I think your particular situation is very much in that mold of creative and innovative. And I want to describe what you do, but I’m afraid I’m just not going to get it right. But I wanted to just start by clarifying a couple of things for the audience to just show how unique your position there is at Lathrop GPM. And so let me just give you a rundown of questions. So you are not a lawyer, right?

Kate Tompkins  13:20

I am not.

Greg Lambert  13:21

All right. And so your background is more in business development.

Kate Tompkins  13:28

Yeah, right. Yeah. marketing and business development. Correct.

Greg Lambert  13:31

But recently, you were put in charge of your firm’s Intellectual Property Group.

Kate Tompkins  13:37

That is also correct.

Greg Lambert  13:39

Alright, so let me just come right out and say, How the heck did this happen?

Marlene Gebauer  13:43

How did you manage that?

Greg Lambert  13:45

And I want to know, did you draw the short straw? So is this a good thing or bad thing? Kind of, kind of tell us how this all worked out for you.

Kate Tompkins  13:53

So it’s very good thing. I’ve been in marketing and business development roles, my entire legal career for the majority of my legal career. But business development and marketing has a natural crossover into practice management. And so even when I assumed the role in a business development capacity at Lathrop and Gage at the time, we’re now Lathrop GPM, after a combination last year. But when I assumed the role as business development, I found myself in more of an operational and practice management capacity at all times, given the nature of the IP practice. There is a lot that goes on into running the practice, that’s not straight up pitches and proposals. There’s a lot of pricing, again, just more so that business side of the practice entirely that really needed a business professional to head it up. And so that’s kind of how it morphed into what it is today.

Marlene Gebauer  14:48

So for those of us who haven’t worked in a typical AmLaw 100, or 200 firm, a traditional practice group leader takes on the following tasks, developing a strategy for the practice group, advancing the business development of the practice group, ensure equitable distribution of work among the more junior practice group attorneys, identify attorneys within the practice group who are struggling, and finding mentoring and coaching opportunities for them. And many continue to practice law at the same time. So how many of these roles are you able to take on?

Kate Tompkins  15:24

I would say that I’m involved in everything that you just listed with the exception of practicing law. I don’t practice law. I haven’t practiced law. But everything that you just listed, the development and the execution of our strategic direction, our strategic plan, that’s something that I’m very much a part of. We have a business development team. And I work very closely with them. Very much a part of that. Always working on the collaboration, the workflow, the equitable distribution of work across the entire practice and with all of our practitioners. So I have my hands in everything to do with the business and an operation side of it. Just I don’t have to maintain my own personal practice and practice law every day.

Greg Lambert  16:09

Just set a curiosity on the marketing part, or the marketing people, do they report to you? Or are they part of a separate team?

Kate Tompkins  16:17

They are a part of a separate team. So we’re under the umbrella of a client relationship and innovations team which is run by a Chief Client Officer. So business development and marketing is within that. Practice management is within that. Pricing and legal project management is within that. So my role is kind of dual in a way. I’m the Director of Practice Management in title, and I have practice management, traditional practice management duties. I also am the head of the practice in the absence of what would normally at law firms have a partner practice group leader. So my firm decided we wouldn’t have a partner practice group leader, and that given my background and familiarity with the entire group that I was the right person for that. So I kind of wear two hats, the DPM, we call that Director of Practice Management and head of the practice group.

Marlene Gebauer  17:10

So I had a follow up question as well. How do you interact like how did the other How did the other Innovation Group support you or how did the other business groups of the firm support what you’re doing?

Kate Tompkins  17:24

We work together all the time. I am constantly working with our Accounting and Financial department. constantly working with our Knowledge Resources team. The entire client relationship and innovations team umbrella. Everybody I mentioned under that umbrella, definitely the pricing and proposals arm of that as well. So it’s just it’s a constant interactions constant day to day. I think you know, IP, at least at my firm IP is unique. It’s a it’s a total business within a business. And so to operate in the way that I need to to make that that business almost like a boutique IP firm would run within our general practice firm. I’m relying on the business professionals in all of the different departments.

Greg Lambert  18:07

And when you say IP, are we talking about IP litigation? Or are we talking more on prosecution? What what type?

Marlene Gebauer  18:17


Kate Tompkins  18:18

Good question, I should have specified that from the beginning. So intellectual property, prosecution and transactions.

Greg Lambert  18:23


Kate Tompkins  18:24

We have an IP litigation team as well. My position is, is overseeing the prostitution and transactions group.

Greg Lambert  18:31

Well, any anyone that’s worked with those types of groups knows that one, they tend to be unique there. There’s the brainiacs, there’s the science geeks that have gone to law school. Is this something that you think that this type of IP group is really the most adaptable to this type of structure?

Kate Tompkins  18:53

I don’t think it’s really a conversation about specific practices, and what you know, if this structure works best with a specific practice. It’s more so the right person for the role, I think, you know, for a business person to take it on, they have to be a trusted adviser to all of the partners in the group to everybody in the group, but especially the partners. And not having a JD just means that I have to, and people in my position have to just work much, much harder to establish credibility. So I think it’s more about,  it’s not necessarily what is the structure, and does that work for other practice groups, and it shouldn’t necessarily be business professional versus a lawyer, it really should be more about the right fit for that practice. And it’s almost always going to be the person who understands the department the best, and every partner in every practice group, and how their practices, help further the strategic direction of the firm and the goals of the client. And once you find that person who understands all of those types of nuances isn’t just in their practice, their area of law, their clients, you found the right fit to lead the practice.

Marlene Gebauer  20:06

You know, you mentioned that you, you may have to work extra hard to, you know, establish credibility. So, you know, that’s one challenge. What are some of the other challenges that you’ve run into, or that maybe you anticipate?

Kate Tompkins  20:20

It’s truly been, you know, in my career, I think being a business professional, it’s, it’s, the thing I run up against the most is that the business side of the house or business side of law, and the practice of law are synonymous. And that really just can’t be further from the truth. I think that there are a number of incredible skilled business professionals that are working in the business side of the house at law firms all across the world. And to really to own and know your craft very, very well just frees up the lawyers time to be able to go practice law and let us open our side of our the business lines that we’re the most skilled and that we have had the most experience in working in in operating. So I it’s been just more of a challenge with that message getting spread, that really the business professionals know this side very, very well and can operate the business side, trust us with this, let us be your trusted advisors and help run this like a business the way professional services groups like the accountants firms of the world of the world that are out there with their business professionals in leadership capacity. So that’s been the biggest challenge. But with top down leadership, at least in my experience, having top down leadership really support this type of a model and letting the business professionals be very present and very important in a leadership role. In running that side of the business, it’s I’ve been able to get through those hurdles. Definitely. But I still see challenges in peer groups all across the country and people still trying to break that barrier down and not have it just be about the JD that you hold your being a partner in the firm that can get you to that position.

Greg Lambert  22:05

Is this a Lathrop GPM phenomenon? Or do you think this is kind of the start of something that you will see more law firms doing?

Kate Tompkins  22:14

I don’t think we’re a phenomenon at all. I think the successful law firms of the future are going to utilize the skills of many types of their professionals so that lawyers can focus on what they do best and what they’re trained to do. And at Lathrop GPM, my firm I think, like I said prior with the supportive leadership team, including my managing partner, my chief operating officer, so business professionals in the role as well as my chief client officer and our partners, and others, I have that. But I think if you don’t, if other business professionals don’t see that don’t see that supportive leadership team at law firms, then they need to go to a place that’s willing to allow them to do their best work. Because senior leadership support in my opinion, is just the only way that this type of a model is going to work. And listen, I even said, You know, I had a conversation with my, with my chief client officer managing partner about this dynamic and just hurdles in it. And even being shy to get the news out about this position, because I know how traditional law firms operate, and kind of the thoughts, the thought behind having a business leader in this role. And really, what it comes down to is that, you know, experience, in my opinion, is the best education. And so personally, you know, I have spent years, years learning in law firms, the business side of the house. And now in Lathrop for the last six and a half years learning about each of my partner’s businesses and all of the business of their clients. And I think that’s the best education that I could have asked for in this role that I’m in. And so it doesn’t necessarily mean I need a JD, to be able to hold it, I think the experience I have, has allowed me to kind of grow into the role and knock down some barriers.

Marlene Gebauer  24:06

So when you know, your peers, you know, what are the what are they asking you, when they reach out? when they hear about this? Are they like, Wow, that’s so cool, or Oh, I’m so sorry. You know, is this something that, you know, they’re thinking that they want to take on, you know, at their firms? And, you know, are they asking you sort of how to go about it?

Kate Tompkins  24:27

Um, so I mean, excitement. I definitely have had more support than I could have imagined with this with the announcement of this role. People from all different positions, all different sized law firms. It’s really been great. And I think this is furthering the conversation about having business leaders in important positions of power at law firms. And so I think that’s just opened a lot of doors to a lot of positive. See, you know, this is, this is a conversation we need to keep having, you know, this is something that I would like to explore a little bit more. I don’t know, the statistics on people specifically in a practice group leader type role the way that I’m in, in other law firms. I’m sure there are some. But I think it needs to be talked about more. I think we need to talk about the positions that people hold in their law firms, when it comes to doing all of the things that help operate the practice. And the role they play in a leadership role, more than we do today. For the for the people that are not the lawyers, the partners of that firm.

Greg Lambert  25:31

Now, when it comes to the some of the practicalities of the practice of the IP group. I’m just curious, is there is there someone that comes in like if they’re setting legal strategy, there’s something that either because the bar associations say that it has to be a lawyer doing it, or it’s an action that needs to be taken with the with the court? Is there a leader within the lawyer side that steps in for that?

Kate Tompkins  26:02

Absolutely. So I rely a lot on the advice of all of my partners, not only my partners, but the we call it the Professional Responsibility committee. So our general counsel. But we do to answer your question. More specifically, we do have section leaders or team leaders that run various areas within my department. And when I say run, they’re the head of the biotech prosecution practice. I have a head of a pharmaceutical chemistry practice, head of the trademark practice, and then also cybersecurity and data privacy. So we have heads of those groups within my department is rather large, we have, you know, approaching 100 practitioners. So to be broken up in the in the amount of groups that we are, I kind of need to be able to rely on that lawyer leader, if you will, to help me. I mean, I’ll execute the strategy, but I’m working directly with them on the strategy of that particular team. Recruitment. They’re, you know, working with me to bring in new people all of the time and the economics of our practice and what that looks like. So very much a collaborative and very supportive environment with the with the team leaders across my entire department.

Greg Lambert  27:18

You do a lot with the mean your business experience and you know, a lot of times you get to measure in order to see how you’re succeeding over time. So and you’ve started this, but earlier this year, right?

Kate Tompkins  27:34

In an official capacity, it was announced that I’d be assuming the role of the IP group leader. But it’s really the way the department has been structured. I’ve kind of been in this role as a director of practice management without a practice group leader, official partner practice group leader for over, for approaching two years now.

Greg Lambert  27:54

So what are your metrics then? What have you been doing to kind of keep the details on how this is working, how you’re growing? What the success is?

Kate Tompkins  28:05

All different kinds of ways. We’re looking, I’m personally looking at a number of different metrics, it depends on specifically what line of the business I’m focused on. But of course, we’re looking at the economics of the practice. But more importantly, I’m working with the business development team, we’re looking at new clients, the origin of those clients, how they came in. Was it an RFP, or a pitch, or was, you know, back when we were in person a lot, was it an in person event where you met this client or through a referral source? So things my business development teams focused on, but I always want to have a finger on that pulse, because it’s, it’s growth, you know, it’s growth for our practice group. And then we’re always looking to grow the practice, you know, just from a number standpoint, and talent standpoint. So I’m looking at, of course, attention and paying attention to attrition, and retention, and what that looks like year over year. And surveying our team to just kind of, you know, see, see, you know, professional development opportunities, does everybody feel like they’re growing and that we have a supportive culture for them? So we’re looking at that and measuring that. And then, of course, in prosecution and transactions, I’ve got the prosecution metrics to look at. And that’s more in practice, but I want to pay attention to things that tell us how we’re doing for clients at the PTO. So allowance rates for applications or time to months to disposition, average amount of office actions, and metrics like that. So we can evaluate the efficiency and affectivity of the practitioners that are doing the work and learn how to you know how to make that experience with hiring our firm, even better year over year and more successful and have the client see, you know, yes, I want Lathrop to be my go to IP counsel. So lots of metrics to answer your question, but that’s just kind of like a little sampling of the things I’m paying attention to.

Greg Lambert  29:59

From the marketing side. The first question that came that came into my mind was, so are you actually getting them to actually use the CRM?

Kate Tompkins  30:10

Isn’t that the question we ask in all law firms?

Greg Lambert  30:16

I noticed you didn’t answer it.

Kate Tompkins  30:20

We’re actually changing over to a new CRM. Thankfully, we’re gonna be we’re working we’re working on now that we have combined our two firms. So we’re bringing in a new CRM. And so we kind of have a fresh, a fresh slate, if you will, to be able to do training and get, you know, people to adopt it. And I… fingers crossed on this one. So I’ve seen it go both ways and law firms, but I think we’ve got a good shot, given the combination to be really successful on the launch of the one where we chose.

Marlene Gebauer  30:50

That’s great.

Greg Lambert  30:52

Well, what I was curious about is, is I could see there being this hesitance for turning this type of role over to someone that’s not a licensed attorney, because someone would automatically go, Oh, well, you know, the bar associations really have these rules. And we had to we had to follow this. Whether that’s actually real or not, there might be this perception. So is there anything that that you see, as far as the bar associations, or the way that the legal industry itself is structured that really needs to kind of shift in order for this to become more of a normal business operations for a law firm?

Kate Tompkins  31:39

I mean, I’m not doing anything I don’t, I mean, I’m not giving any legal advice or opining in any way on a client’s legal strategy. Really, the majority of my work is in how the practice operates, and how, you know, the economics of the practice how…

Marlene Gebauer  31:55

How it operates as a business, as opposed to the actual practice of law. \

Kate Tompkins  32:00


Greg Lambert  32:02

And the reason I asked that is because it was it was only like three or four years ago that the Texas Bar came out with a rule that said you can’t have the Chief title because people will think that you’re, you know, that you’re making decisions on for the lawyers, the legal decisions. And they find, I think they kind of backed off of that, but this is a pretty close community, and not one that’s anxious to make major changes like that. So I imagine, have you have you run into any struggles so far in that area?

Kate Tompkins  32:40

No, I think because just the nature of what I’m doing in the work, there really is a difference between like my role, for instance, and a practice group leader that practices. And, you know, I, I see they’ve got a practice to balance but then also, you know, the IP world, or at least the world at Lathrop, I think it is for a lot of prosecution and transaction practice, is heavy operational, I mean, it has an entire infrastructure that needs to be run. And so it’s very different for, you know, perhaps a practice group leader of another practice that doesn’t have the same complex infrastructure that an IP practice has, to be able to, you know, they can balance the practice, their personal practice, and then, you know, the day to day kind of more operational with the support of business people. Whereas on the IP side, it’s, it takes someone that has to have their hands in everything, and has the support of all departments and kind of, like I had said earlier, run a business within the business. And so without having to balance that practice side and just have that, you know, infrastructure responsibility, and operational responsibility think makes this different, but I’ve never received pushback or questions or, you know, any ethical concerns or anything like that ever, in my doing this, just because I think people know what my responsibilities are, and has nothing to do with practicing law.

Marlene Gebauer  34:06

And it seems from what you told us that that, you know, that they looked into this very carefully. I mean, you said it was sort of ongoing for two years before they, they made the announcement. And then you’ve also mentioned that, that there’s a great degree of trust. And, you know, that is really the key factor that that if there is that trust, then people are much more willing to sort of explore some of these different ways.

Greg Lambert  34:30

And so if you’re successful here is the is the payback that you get to take over the other practice groups as well?

Kate Tompkins  34:39

No. My cup runneth over.

Greg Lambert  34:47

Well, Kate Tompkins, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us.

Marlene Gebauer  34:51

Thank you, Kate.

Kate Tompkins  34:52

I really appreciate being invited and given the opportunity. Thank you both.

Marlene Gebauer  34:58

Well, that was so much fun talking to Kate, it was so wonderful to sort of see that new model that that someone actually took the step. And did it. And, you know, I was saying to you earlier I was I was very excited about this, but also worried that, oh, it’s just going to be this complete unicorn situation. And you know, it’s not going to be able to be replicated. But, you know, honestly, all of the points that she made were things that, you know, collaboration and trust, and knowing the business, you know, all of those things, I think are, you know, can be transferable in other situations. So, I think it’s wonderful that I hope people are sort of looking at that and saying, Hey, you know, let’s try that.

Greg Lambert  35:41

Yeah. And, and I would say that there’s probably dozens if, you know, if not more business development, people that are assigned to practice groups that are doing a lot of what she’s already doing. And I was joking with my intellectual property practice group leader earlier this week, and he was like, he’s like, yeah, this sounds like a great idea, because this IP guys were terrible at managing things. But, you know, and again, I think it’s not …. kind of backup, what you’re saying it’s not that big of a unicorn situation is, is it might seem like when you hear the story, I would like to see, you know, other practice groups kind of take this on. But I think Kate’s really right, though, because most of the time we talk about change has to be organic and bottom up, but I think this type of change, you really have to have top down, people are saying, this is how we’re doing it. This is why we’re doing it, and this is how we’re supporting it. And we need everybody to get on board with it. So it’s gonna be interesting to track her progress over over the years.

Marlene Gebauer  36:52

Yeah, I wish her lots and lots of success.

Greg Lambert  36:55

Yeah. So thanks again to Kate Tompkins, from Lathrop GPM for coming on and telling us about an exciting new role.

Marlene Gebauer  37:01

Thanks, Kate. Before we go, we want to remind listeners to take the time to subscribe on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, rate and review us as well. If you have comments about today’s show, or suggestions for a future show, you can reach us on Twitter at @gebauerm or @glambert or you can call the Geek in Review hotline at 713-487-7270 or email us at And as always, the music you hear is from Jerry David DeCicca. Thanks, Jerry.

Greg Lambert  37:34

Thanks Jerry. Alright, Marlene, I will talk with you later.

Greg Lambert  37:38

Okay, bye!