Driving Efficiencies in the Law Practice (Live Post)
This is a live post from the Bloomberg Big Law Summit. Please excuse any typos or errors in how I capture proceedings.
1:30 pm Panel Session: Driving Efficiencies in the Law Practice
Advances in process management and technology – and a changing mindset around outsourcing – have given law firms and inside counsel a larger playbook than ever to choose the best strategies for reining in costs and driving efficiencies. A panel of prominent experts will discuss best practices, resourcing strategies, stumbling blocks and success stories on how to most effectively manage operations for the good of the business and for your most important legal matters.
Moderated by: Deirdre Oren Byrne, Esq., Global Business Unit Head, Offshore Delivery, Integreon Managed Solutions
Martha Mazzone, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Fidelity Investments
J. Stephen Poor, Chairman, Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Rosemarie A. Sturtevant, Chief of Office Administration, Holland & Knight
Q: What does disruption mean?
Fidelity.. Efficiency. A new type of lawyer (“21st Century Lawyer”). There are new success criteria for lawyers. Being smart and subject matter expert is not enough now. Good outcomes is not enough: winning at $10M is not good if efficiencies would have let you win at $3M. We look at risk management, specifically, lawyers must look at risks and anticipates. Lawyers must decide what’s really necessary.
Seyfarth – Getting cheaper is not the goal; it’s being better and faster. Ten years ago, firm started applying Lean Six Sigma. Now, it’s design thinking as much as process. To close the value gap, we need mind-shift changes. Law firms must understand the business outcomes clients (not just the lawyers) want. We need to use data to drive our decisions. We need to stop doing wasteful activity and find the smartest ways to work. We should focus on “less for less” not “more for less”. This forces us to thinking about resourcing choices and process.
Holland & Knight – Lawyers must be more humble. Humility needed to change how lawyers work. For example, lawyers should not presume they are good project managers (many are not).
Seyfarth: Industry is very different now than past, even if many do not recognize this. We need multiple skill sets to solve problems. We have dedicated project managers, for example. Everyone, including lawyers, must learn to work in multi-disciplinary teams. Affirms value of being humble to accept / adopt change.
Q: What drove change or innovation?
Fidelity… When business records moved from paper to digital, we became overwhelmed by volumes. But it’s still about finding a few key facts. The digital tide means lawyers must learn to work with technology professionals. Changing the mindset of “brilliant” in-house lawyers is hard. It’s no easier to change their understanding than it is to change outside counsel’s.
Seyfarth… In “Golden Early” of aughts, rate growth was the magic lever. Seyfarth began wondering if that could continue – and what would work better for clients. Firm looked for a better way to serve clients.
Q: What else had to change in the last 10 years to drive efficiency?
Technology by itself rarely drives change (spreadsheets might be an exception).
If it affects partners, then you must be transparent. Need to bring the resistors along. It’s an ongoing effort – you always have to monitor the change. Must listen to clients, lawyers, and staff for any change.
Set up a series of achievable goals with clear stepping points. Communicate clearly and often. Be transparent about the change.
Include other professionals on legal teams.
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