Articles Tagged with “Big Law”

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LP_Today_Logo-e1401945551625.pngLeaders of many of the nation’s biggest and baddest law firms converged in New York City recently to discuss the rapidly changing legal landscape and how to adjust not only to survive, but thrive. The oft-repeated themes of innovation, differentiation and collaboration ruled the day.

My article in the August 2015 issue of Law Practice Today (LPT) serves as a recap of the full day inaugural Big Law Summit, put on by Bloomberg BNA. A who’s who of managing partners, in-house counsel and various industry experts discussed a wide range of issues ranging from innovating in a risk averse environment to adjusting to changing demands on the client side of big business that want more “value based arrangements.”

DLA Piper’s Roger Meltzer gave the global firm perspective. The program titled “Harnessing the Power of Collaboration,” could have been called “how origination dooms us all.” As the infamous quote goes, the first step is in admitting that you have a problem. I was drawn to the Big Law Summit because these law firms are my clients. The issues and answers that ruled the day reinforced those that I experience whenever I’m sitting with a Big Law managing partner or management committee. The conversations struck honestly at the heart of the issues that need to be addressed for major law firms to thrive in today’s global marketplace. Kudos to BNA for putting together a well-run and organized program on a subject matter that clearly had an audience.

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Why do I have the feeling that discussing Women’s Initiatives in law firms will only get me into trouble?top_logo.gif

A recent report by the National Association of Women Lawyers finds that 97% of large law firms have women’s initiatives, but that they often lack the funding and goals to make a difference. I read the entire 34-page report, and came to a few conclusions. First, nothing surprised me about the results. Second, most of the concerns correlate to one another. Yes, there are less equity partners, thus yes, women don’t end up with as much rainmaking credit; thus yes, women don’t end up in positions of firm-wide leadership (since they are not equity partners and not originating business); and yes, women don’t receive the same compensation since they are not originating as much business. In the end, it all comes back to the ability to generate business.

What the report fails to do is offer any real solutions to the stated problems. I’ve worked with many similar initiatives over the last 10+ years and found mixed results. For the most part, it is not for a lack of funding. Law firms finance these efforts, and finance related activities. Surprisingly (that is my mocking voice), putting a firm logo or advertisement in a dinner program or similar magazine supplement does not make things better. Providing “workshops” on rainmaking by people that are not actually female lawyer rainmakers in real life don’t help either (if you are going to be effective, then you need to provide women partners from your own law firm). And, finally, providing spa services and high teas (yes, these are done) does not lead a female associate into the partnership and leadership ranks of a law firm.

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This was my submission for the 2011 ABA Journal Ross Essay Contest. The theme revolved around what “big law” can do to positively impact the practice of law.

On a daily basis, there are success stories in regard to client representation by solo practitioners, boutique and midsize law firms. At the same time, perusal of the Wall Street Journal or New York Times serve as reminders that most “bet the farm” situations still fall in the laps of the nation’s largest law firms.

As an attorney, I have had the opportunity to work with and interact with the “large law firm” from numerous vantage points. I’ve been the “client” as an in-house attorney. I’ve had the opportunity to watch colleagues as an adviser to friends and family. In recent years, I have worked with large law firms on business models and strategies. All of those experiences color my belief that they are uniquely positioned to have the greatest positively changing the practice of law.