It is an increasingly competitive market for law firms. Law departments are bringing more work in house, continuing to consolidate the number of outside firms they use, and sending more work to alternative legal service providers. To differentiate themselves, law firms of all sizes are seeking strategies to provide increased value to their clients, while simultaneously increasing profitability.
Although the predicted time frame varies, most business economists suggest that a recession is on the horizon within the next two years, according to a survey by the National Association for Business Economics released in late February. At the end of the year, many CFOs were predicting recession in the U.S. by the end of this year, and The World Bank lowered its projections for global growth in its ominously titled January report, “Darkening Skies.” We cannot predict when or whether a downturn will occur, but we know from experience that those who maximize their operational efficiency are better prepared to succeed, regardless of the economic situation.
The Summit on Legal Innovation and Disruption (SOLID) held in London on November 7 provided a view into the rate of transformation, primarily from the lens of the UK and Europe. The action-packed, daylong event included 15 TED-style talks and “fireside chats” (sans the fire), along with brainstorming sessions among the participants. SOLID London 2018 was produced by The Cowen Group in association with Baker McKenzie. HBR Consulting was one of several partnership sponsors. The aim of each Summit is to gather legal professionals for an exchange of ideas about the intersection of innovation, advanced technology and the business of law. Most of the attendees and speakers at the London forum were EMEA-based corporate counsel, providing a unique view into innovation in law departments outside the United States.
Back in the day, law firms and clients usually set forth the terms governing their relationships in standard engagement letters. But more recently, as bargaining power has shifted away from law firms and toward clients, organizations have begun to document their expectations for outside counsel in increasingly long and detailed guidelines.
I had a clear message to deliver to those in attendance when I took the stage at this year’s International Legal Technology Conference (ILTACON): law departments are gathering, centralizing and sharing more data than ever, and many law firms are lagging behind. During the presentation, “Data Gathering and Sharing by GCs,” I was joined by Ron Katcher, director and senior corporate counsel at Qlik Technologies, and Paul Nicandri, chief service delivery officer at DLA Piper. We took a deep dive into how law departments and law firms are (or are not) using analytics, highlighted the disparities between law departments and law firms, and offered some suggestions to law firms about making better use of data analytics to bolster their relationships with clients. Here are some key takeaways from our session.
The Summit on Legal Innovation and Disruption (SOLID) East, held on September 13, 2018 in New York City, delivered on its promise to bring together professionals who are transforming the legal industry. The daylong event held an action-packed sprint of 14 TED Talk-style sessions spanning the full spectrum of stakeholders in the legal ecosystem. SOLID East 2018 was the third such event orchestrated by The Cowen Group and delivered in partnership with several sponsors, including HBR Consulting. Each summit has reflected the ethos of those dedicated to exploring the rate of change and innovation at the intersection of technology and the business of law in both law departments and law firms.
Last month, I had the pleasure of moderating an excellent panel at the Consero Legal Operations Forum entitled “Dashboards & Portals: Leveraging Existing Operational Investments for Greater Returns,” in Pasadena, CA. My esteemed panelists included Scott Fuller from Applied Materials, Brian Pomeroy from Discover Financial Services, Elizabeth Miller from Dolby Laboratories, Julie Cremeans from Fair, and Emelita Hernandez-Bravo from Fitbit. Each panelist brought a fresh perspective on how to best leverage data and analytics in a sophisticated law department. The audience consisted of the vast majority of the conference’s attendees and included legal operations professionals and practicing lawyers from approximately 80 different companies.
This year’s Annual Law Firm COO & CFO Forum focused on the ten years of change since the economic crisis of 2007. I had the pleasure of moderating the panel, “Boats Against the Current: The Evolving Law Firm Business Model” that included a diverse panel of c-level executives who explored the changes that have occurred to the law firm business model. Most notable, however, we examined how operations leaders have risen to the occasion and are charting a new course for the c-suite – one that is more directly influencing firm strategy, business development and revenue-generating activities.
Forward-thinking law firms and law departments are looking beyond internal staffing and cost-reduction strategies, and are pursuing custom-tailored solutions for service delivery. By using outside providers to deliver services, leading law firms and law departments can place a greater emphasis on their core business. This enables organizations to focus on areas that are the most strategic and differentiating to their clients.
On June 9, over 20 representatives from the legal vertical joined HBR Consulting and Intapp at Shearman & Sterling LLP in New York for an invitation-only Risk Roundtable. Participants from law firms and investment banking firms came together for a thoughtful discussion that included ideas and insight into how to improve the business acceptance process.