Change Coming Faster to a Law Firm Near You?

The job of a managing partner is to bring positive change to a firm or as one managing partner put it:

My job as managing partner is to reduce from 60 to 36 months the amount of time it takes our partners to go from ‘why would we ever do that’ to ‘we’ve always done that’.

Are things changing more quickly?

Here are some additional observations from this managing partner about the changes under way at firms.  Noticeably absent is any mention of outsourcing:

•   A more sophisticated view of client complexity, leading to a client-centric rather than lawyer-centric model of practice, driven by shared goals to create a more well-ordered society and the competitive survival of the client.

•    Greater engagement between firms and clients, leading to better collaboration between firm lawyers and in-house lawyers, and greater collaboration across the firm.

•    A more transparent notion of quality and value in assessing legal services and lawyers.

•    Pricing that shifts the emphasis from time and materials (billable hours) to value as defined by the client.

•    Dramatically less associate leverage in law firms.

•    Overall law firm revenues will be down 10 to 20 percent from their peak, but the differences between winners and losers will be much more dramatic, and firms will dramatically reduce all expenses not essential to delivering value to clients.

•    Technology that simplifies routine work and improves communication to enable the above (instead of ‘social networking,’ it will be a broad set of Web 2.0 capabilities in which ‘people are the Killer App,’ see, e.g., New York Times describing the centrality of Facebook to the emerging Web).

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