I recently had the opportunity to speak on a panel at ILTACON 2022 regarding effectively managing outside counsel guidelines. Here’s a synopsis of my thoughts following an engaging panel discussion and related audience questions.
Fundamental changes in the way that law firms operate today have transformed the nature of collaboration across firm networks and information systems.
As our colleague Kate Jasaitis noted earlier, discussing how the law firm of the future will be built around collaboration, the pandemic ushered in a hybrid/remote work model for law firms and, with it, the challenge to balance having that model while meeting client demand. Lawyers and staff now desire greater control over how they work, assuming firm systems are available and easily accessible wherever and however they choose to work.
The pandemic sped digital transformation in the legal industry out of necessity, but what might have been deemed temporary is now here to stay. The American Lawyer reported in May 2022 that 79% of Am Law 200 HR departments expect “all or most” of their workforce to be eligible for a hybrid work arrangement this year.This increasingly mobile, dispersed workforce has new service delivery requirements and expectations that are fundamentally challenging the dynamics of integration and consumption of IT resources. Traditional on-premise solutions using virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) with tightly controlled end points simply cannot meet the new demands.
For the first time since 2019, the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) Global Institute (CGI) returned in person to the Bellagio in Las Vegas. And what a time it was! Despite the pandemic, CLOC and CGI are both bigger than ever – CLOC’s membership now tops 4,000, CGI attendance was over 2,000, its largest yet on record, and there were over 100 exhibitors.
Doing more with less has been a refrain in the legal industry for years, becoming even more urgent during the current talent war. Every year, there seems to be more work, less time, and higher pressure to get the work done efficiently and cost-effectively. But as law departments and their law firms alike struggle with finding new ways to streamline their work, the data they need to inform better strategies sits at their fingertips, unused and overlooked. Enter the need for legal analytics. Legal analytics provide the foundation for data-driven, strategic decision making, helping legal organizations advance business objectives.
The pandemic induced waves of changes throughout the legal industry that were long overdue. Perhaps the most impactful change was embracing a hybrid/remote work model that had been institutionalized by other industries long ago. Additionally, a focal point has finally been placed on work life balance. Lawyers and staff now demand the ability to have greater control over how and when they work—particularly because the pandemic proved that remote work had little to no negative impact on productivity. In fact, a recent report by Thomson Reuters found that 86% of lawyers want to work from home at least one day a week and 60% of associates said they would leave their firms for a better work life balance. The challenge facing law firms today is balancing the new hybrid work model while still meeting client demand. To do this, they must ensure their lawyers can get work done effectively and seamlessly, with ease—the key word being “ease.”
The American legal profession has had a uniform conception of a law firm’s library department and its role for several generations: great big rooms full of books and periodicals staffed by librarians responsible for making sure the firm had the most important volumes on hand for instant reference by the lawyers — or to track down what the lawyers needed if it was not on hand. The nomenclature was universal, and everyone knew the role of the department.
What started as a series of anecdotal coincidences at companies over the past year has now turned into a clearly documented phenomenon. The “Great Resignation” period is underway.
The fourth quarter of every year means lots of things to different people, but for law firm leadership teams this time of year brings with it the important — if tedious — process of establishing the firm’s budget for the year to come.