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A recent mini-epiphany got me thinking again about legal innovation. This epiphany came during a review of some survey results on the culture of large law firms. And like many epiphanies, it came from just one small comment, which served as the straw.

The survey was of law firm business professionals on their roles and

I recently attended a conference that included both law firms and clients. One of the clients had a slide showing his company’s savings by bringing work in-house. It was the classic approach of comparing billing rates for law firm lawyers to hourly compensation rates of equivalent level in-house lawyers. Even though this lawyer was not

For years the prevailing wisdom has been there are no economies of scale for law firms. In the classic economics sense this is true. Having more lawyers does not reduce the amount of time it takes to perform legal tasks. So it does not matter whether you work at a firm with a few lawyers or with hundreds of them. The work has always been very manual so larger scale does not impact the time it takes to get things done.

However … there are other economies of scale to be gained from size in a law firm. These economies exist and are emerging on the business side of firms. One might jump to the conclusion these will primarily be IT based, automating lawyer functions and such. But those functions are still early stage and not yet having widespread impact. Instead these economies of what I will call value, are coming from other corners of the firm.

This thought came to be recently when discussing diversity goals with a client. My firm has just over 1000 lawyers. At this size we can afford to have a chief diversity and inclusion officer (who is awesome by the way). A firm with 100 lawyers is unlikely to afford such a role. A firm that size is more likely to task a partner with that function, so it is not their day job.
Continue Reading Economies of Scale for Law Firms?

Having recently attended a conference on law firm innovation, I came to the realization that Blockchain has lost its pre-eminent place in the legal BS stratosphere. This is a sad day. Blockchain had a good life and provided tons of opportunities for people to opine on how ‘everything’ will change because of it. I recall one especially insightful article on emerging crypto-toilet paper offerings. Too bad we will never know the warm comfort of crypto-paper making a pass around the seventh planet.

Moving right along – we now will enjoy six to nine months of “innovation” articles, seminars, conferences, white papers, case studies and booze-induced discussions.

Oh sweet pessimism.
Continue Reading Law Firm Innovation – The Newest BS Phrase

No.

I hate it when an article title present a question and then draws out the answer until you are over half-way through the material. So I started with the answer on this post.

Of course you could have guessed that answer pretty easily. But as I have been thinking about this issue lately, another dimension to this question came to mind.

Turning the way-back machine to 1999 – I was involved in a start-up as part of the Dot.Com boom (and bust). We had a technology that provided Enforceable Online Transactions. We calculated that there were 50 billion transactions every hour, or something like that, on the planet. And we only had to capture a fraction of that to get rich. Sadly – that was not the result. But at the time many people would ask me if I was afraid to take the risk of having a job like that. Start ups are a risky place to be. I could lose my job at any time.
Continue Reading Is Your Job Safe?

After (more than) numerous times of trashing on task codes in pricing presentations, a few people prodded me into doing something about it. In those presentations on pricing, the topic of task codes would always come up. I suggested that maybe task codes aren’t the place to start when focusing on pricing, budgeting, etc. Instead we would start by setting standards for the type of work being performed. In other words, you should understand what type of matter is involved before you worry about task or other segments of work under that level.

Continue Reading The Legal Industry Now Has a Standards Body: Announcing SALI

[Ed. Note: Today’s post comes from guest blogger, Steve Nelson from The McCormick Group. Steve suggest the next generation of COOs will need different skills and perspectives to be successful. He is right. – TB]

A recent article in Bloomberg Big Law Business detailed the increasing sophistication of Chief Operating Officers at law firms, pointing out that many of the new COOs have managed corporate organizations, other major professional services firms, and large government agencies.

But the article misses an important factor in what law firm leaders need in today’s environment. Much has been written lately about the challenges that the AmLaw law firms are facing because of the increased scrutiny by clients and their own “chief operating officers”, as evidenced by the growth of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC). What has changed, particularly since the recession, has been a complete reevaluation of the “law firm engagement”. Clients have taken a much more comprehensive view of their outside counsel retention, not just in terms of billing rates and alternative fees, but in the way that their work is handled. This ranges from billing practices, composition of teams, and the reporting of even minor “event changes” that impacts the engagement as a whole.


Continue Reading The Law Firm COO of the Future

One of my old jokes I used to use arose out of lawyer questions about “AFAs.” Lawyers would ask, How can you tell if an AFA will be successful? My answer: I have caller ID. The point being that success came with lawyers willing to focus on the numbers. And I already knew who those

Photo by Danielle MacInnes 

Of late, Casey has been posting some excellent material on the high BS factor of law firm marketing. This plus an event I participated in on Friday in NY spurred me on to write a post. However, don’t expect this post to be anywhere near as long as Casey’s. That

Years ago I got into the legal speaking circuit after presenting on the future of the legal profession to a group of bar leaders. I called the presentation “Staying Relevant.” I credit this moment with pushing me into the spotlight of change in the legal profession since it lead to a slew of speaking invites