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.
Last month, nearly a thousand members of the legal ecosystem from around the world came together at the Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas for the second annual Corporate Legal Operations Consortium’s (CLOC) Institute. This year’s four-day conference attracted nearly twice the number of attendees as last year’s conference, and once again featured content-rich sessions and numerous networking opportunities.
With the 2017 Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) Institute just around the corner, leaders in legal operations are gearing up to spend three days sharpening their legal swords and networking among industry thought leaders. HBR is proud to be a Platinum sponsor and I look forward to seeing many of our clients, partners and friends there.
As corporate clients continue the journey toward operational excellence, law firms are being challenged to respond to corporate client requests to improve transparency and efficiencies. With corporate legal spending on outside counsel continuing to decrease – it was down 2 percent in 2016 according to our annual law department survey – we are seeing inside spending as a percentage of revenue exceed outside spending for the first time. This is resulting in law firms seeking ways to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market.
As the legal market continues to evolve, consultants have emerged as a key resource for addressing the challenges faced by law firms. Consultant engagements have also evolved, and law firm executives are not the only ones seeking help from legal consultants. In fact, 30-40 percent of consultant engagements are now initiated by stakeholders outside of the C-suite. This is dramatically different from 10 years ago, when consultants were mainly brought on by the executive team.
There is no denying the fundamental shift that is underway in the legal industry. Both law firms and corporate law departments are examining new metrics to track outcomes and report on success, leadership roles and responsibilities are expanding to keep pace with fluctuating market demand and law firm service delivery models are evolving to keep pace with corporate client demands. Cutting-edge law firms and law departments understand that in order to keep pace with change, they must actively draw and learn from clients, competitors and other thriving industries.
There is no denying the fundamental shift that is (and has been) underway in the legal industry. As a result, we are witnessing cutting-edge law firms striving to adopt more sustainable business models to meet evolving client needs. While it’s important to discuss theories behind why the legal market historically resists adapting to change, we believe a greater opportunity exists in focusing on how industry leaders can respond to and achieve success in today’s environment.