A half-dozen years ago I participated in the partner retreat of an Australian law firm. I was impressed by the business focus of the firm. Now, there are signs that some of this discipline is coming to US shores. And with it will perhaps arrive a more systematic assessment of the opportunities to deploy technology for client advantage. 

The Australian firm had a Chief Strategy Officer who presented to the partners. A spirited discussion ensued concerning various strategic, marketing, and competitive issues. In contrast, a few months later I participated in a large US firm’s partner retreat. There, the managing partner extolled how the firm was “high quality” without mentioning strategy or competition.

I was therefore intrigued to see that Dickstein Shapiro has appointed a chief strategy officer (reported in the June 9th issue of Washington Business Journal). The new CSO is “responsible for ensuring that all firm initiatives – both internal and external – are in line with the company’s strategic plan.” I am not aware of many other large US law firms that have chief strategy officers. So it will be interesting to observe how this role evolves, in general and at Dickstein.

An empowered CSO should have some say in how a firm deploys technology to serve clients. And if there is someone with strategic vision, able to focus on the market, client needs, and competition, that bodes well in my opinion for a firm using technology to serve clients more effectively.