Originally published in The American Lawyer.
Being in the middle has never been easy. The middle child, the middle manager, the midsize company—all come saddled with a litany of burdens from not being big enough to do something to being big enough not to do something. The middle is large enough to create expectations, yet not large enough to deploy vast resources in pursuit of a mission. It demands juggling priorities, enduring sacrifices and making sometimes difficult choices. The middle is where we find the Am Law Second Hundred.
In case you missed it, this recording of AmLaw’s webinar analyzing the Second Hundred delivers deep insight and perspectives on what the rankings tell us (and don’t) and why management and leadership are increasingly the true differentiators driving varying financial performance. A conversation between Nick Bruch, Gina Passarella and Marcie Borgal Shunk.
Originally published in The Legal Intelligencer.
There is a crisis brewing in law firms. In an era of volatility and transformation, law firms are now, more than ever, reliant on their culture, vision and operational approach to drive performance—all of which, at their core, rely on effective leadership. Multiple recent longitudinal analyses of the AmLaw 200 illustrate this connection, repudiating that size alone creates an advantage. Few firms, however, have the processes, tools and structure in place to develop and select the best leaders for their organizations. Moreover, the most revered leaders in law firms may not be those who have significant, positive, long-term impact on their firms.
Originally published on law.com.
Over the past decade the primary objective of many large law firms has been a simple one: get bigger. Firms of all sizes and regional origins have made deliberate moves (and some explicit announcements) that indicate their intention of becoming national or international players in the legal space. The trajectory from regional to super-regional to national to international is well-worn; and the benefits of being an international or national law firm seem indisputable. A new regional analysis of law firm geographic profiles and growth, however, reveals the payoff from being a truly national or international law firm just may not be what it used to be.
Originally published in The Legal Intelligencer.
Recently, Hugh A. Simons wrote for American Lawyer an enticing argument advocating elite law firms increase their rates. In one striking comment, Simons suggests elite law firms jettison any and all commodity services. While catering to high-end needs may certainly simplify operational management, the practicality of this approach is limited to no more than a handful of truly elite firms—leaving the vast majority of firms—including some of today’s highest performers— demanding a different modus operandi.
Originally published in New York Law Journal, January 2018.
Realization rates continue to decline in the legal industry, according to the most recent Georgetown Law/Peer Monitor report, demonstrating the growing disconnect between the hours worked and revenue generated by lawyers. As the connection between the billable hour and financial success becomes more tenuous, so too does the premise for advocating a highly leveraged business model comprised primarily of lawyers.
Originally published on Law.com, December 2017.
Recent news and awards indicate law firms are increasing their investments in innovation. Stories of recently launched innovation committees, R&D teams and idea labs routinely grace the pages of industry publications. Yet despite these investments, the trajectory of the industry as a whole seems to have remained largely unchanged. Why are innovation efforts by larger law firms failing to make a meaningful impact?
Originally published in New York Law Journal, September 2017.
Taking a cue from some of the organizations that have displaced traditional Fortune 500 companies, if we abandon all that we know to be true—the billable hour as the pinnacle of measuring performance, the pyramid structure comprised predominantly of trained lawyers, the adulation of sophisticated legal services—what’s left?
Co-produced with Acritas.
Law firm competitive intelligence (CI) is not new. Approximately half of the law firms participating in this study have had resources dedicated to CI for five or more years. This report, however, reveals there is significant work to be done to build CI capabilities to keep pace with the competitive and dynamic industry law has become. Download a complimentary copy now.
Unfortunately, at most firms, the planning process has become more an exercise in checking the boxes and filling in the blanks than one in energizing action. Introducing a new approach to planning can help to spot untapped opportunities and revitalize stagnant business development efforts.