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Ahead of the Curve

September 2017

PURPOSE

The Professional Development Advisory Committee’s (PDAC) purpose in providing you this communication is to further its goal of periodically sharing topical information regarding the legal industry. Our hope is that one or more of the updates will provide a spark of insight to assist with your work on behalf of ALA as well as within your firm or legal department.


    

Past Issues

2017

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"MOBILE WORK: THE NEXT RECRUITMENT CHALLENGE?"

"HR Magazine reports that by 2020, the mobile workforce is projected to comprise roughly three-quarters of the US workforce. Let me say that again in a different way. Three in four US employees will be working from a remote location at least some time each day, week, or month. Wow, talk about challenges to process and company culture; this one will be substantial."

Read more

Resource: Dave Nerz


"BIG FOUR ACCOUNTING FIRM TO OPEN LAW OFFICE IN U.S."

Law firms already elbowing one another for multinational clients will soon have a new competitor: The Big Four accounting firm PwC, formerly known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, plans to open a law firm in Washington, D.C., next week.

Read more

Resource: Elizabeth Olsen, The New York Times


"UNCERTAIN TIMES AHEAD"

Flatlined revenues at the global 100 law firms may be a future indicator for the industry.

Read more

Resource: Stacey Zaretsky, Above the Law.com


"COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS"

How are we doing and on what should we focus? We would like our profits to improve, but we think we are efficient, and our clients won’t pay higher rates. We believe our competitors are doing better than us, but we can’t say for sure. We believe we have a good reputation and think we are a great place to work, but quality laterals are not pursuing a relationship with us. We believe our compensation is competitive, but we are not sure that we are incenting the right behaviors.

If any of this sounds familiar, an objective competitive analysis will help.

Read more

Resource: Brian Kennel


"LAW PARTNERS — WITH GOOD REASON, THEY WON'T RETIRE"

"One factor in the global downsized demand for new lawyers is that Baby Boomers won't retire. In addition, they are clogging the pipeline for upward mobility in the profession. Fewer senior associates are making partner." A perspective that you may not have considered on retirement...

Read more

Resource: Law and More


"ETHICAL OBLIGATIONS TO CLIENTS IN THE WAKE OF A DISASTER"

What will you need to do if client documents are destroyed or exposed to the public in the wake of a hurricane or other natural disaster?

Read more

Resource: Peter Geraghty


"THE LEGAL PROFESSION'S 'LAST MILE PROBLEM'"

"Clients are clamoring for legal solutions that are better, faster and less expensive. And in many corners of the profession, we already have the personnel, technology and know-how to make this happen. Missing, however, are business models that will reliably reward lawyers and their organizations for quantum leaps in legal productivity. I have sat in rooms with buyers and suppliers of legal services and witnessed the last mile problem firsthand, and it is very painful to watch. "

Read more

Resource: Bill Henderson, Law.com


"HOW MANAGED SERVICES ARE BUILDING SYSTEMS FOR CORPORATE LEGAL WORK"

This is an absolutely fascinating article about how the 2008 financial crisis permanently affected the legal industry and the paradigm shift of the legal services delivery model. If you have time to watch the 40 minute interview with the current chairman of Axiom, Mark Harris, it's worth every second. This article covers many other businesses in the industry that are very successfully operating in a managed services model as well. Biggest takeaway: private law firms have a huge uphill battle to stay relevant in the coming decades.

Read more

Resource: William D. Henderson, ABA Journal


"THE BORING LAW FIRM. THE MODEL IS DEAD, MAY IT REST IN PEACE"

This is such a fabulous, thought-provoking article! "As a strategic advisor to law firm management, what might you suggest a firm do? We manage risk by hedging bets. Law firms gamble on people and, as with most gamblers, law firms lose quite often. Lateral partners don’t bring the books of business firms blindly believe they will bring. Associates leave before firms can reject them as partner candidates, but while they still need their hands. Mergers do not result in growth so much as perhaps stall the decline. Could you suggest a way to retain labor, use capital, and not screw up the firm during the transition to what will be a mix of labor and capital?"

Read more

Resource: Ken Grady


"BAKER DONELSON — AI FOR CONTRACT ANALYSIS"

Baker Donelson recently brought on Kira Systems' machine learning technology to analyze and manage the firm's contracts and will be exploring other transactional processes where AI could be useful. 

Read more

Resource: Gabrielle Orum Hernandez, Legal Tech News


"EMPLOYERS TAKE WELLNESS TO A HIGHER LEVEL"

"Wellness goes beyond even providing the disease management programs that became popular in the early 2000s." There is a whole new thought process behind wellness and the focus now is on a well-rounded employee creating a happier and more productive individual on your team. 

Read more

Resource: Susan Milligan, HR Magazine


"REVEALED: JUSTIN KAN’S SECRETIVE LEGAL STARTUP DEBUTS TODAY AS A DIFFERENT KIND OF LAW FIRM"

"Last April, reports surfaced that Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur Justin Kan was looking to raise — and then in June did raise — $10 million for an initial round of funding for a startup that would “revolutionize legal services.” The name of the startup was known, Atrium LTS, but little else, except that it would somehow involve software designed to streamline the work of law firms. Today we get the rest of the story, as Kan’s startup officially starts up.

Kan is not a lawyer and has never worked in the legal field. But as a serial entrepreneur, he was a client who became frustrated by the delivery of legal services. Kan founded the live-video platforms Justin.tv and Twitch.tv, selling Twitch to Amazon in 2014 for $970 million. He was a partner at the venture capital firm Y Combinator until he left earlier this year to start Atrium LTS.

What is launching today is a law firm, Atrium LLP, that is separate and apart from Kan’s technology company Atrium LTS, but that is symbiotically connected to it. Atrium’s lawyers will focus exclusively on practicing law, while Atrium LTS (the LTS is for Legal Technology Services) will handle all operations for the firm, even including marketing, and develop and operate software to streamline the firm’s workflows." Read more.

Resource: Robert Ambrogi, Law Sites.com


"DOMO ARIGATO: HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE COMING ROBOT APOCALYPSE"

You’ll have heard by now that the robots are coming for you. Read more.
 

Resource: Jared Correia, The Friday Five, Attorney at Work


"WHAT WILL YOU FIND? CONSIDERATIONS FOR CONDUCTING A LEGAL BILL REVIEW"

If you work for a firm that does any type of defense litigation for corporations or insurance companies, this article is an interesting look at the reasons behind a claims audit.  While claims audits lean toward being adversarial in nature, the ultimate goal of these should be to create a tripartite relationship that benefits everyone involved. Read more

Resource: C. Michael Mattix, Steve Henning, CLM Magazine


"MAKE TECHNOLOGY, NOT TALENT, YOUR FIRST PRIORITY"

This is a great thought provoking article. The author, Jennifer Wilson, is based out of Omaha and while she primarily consults in the accounting firm space, I have been following her for years and highly respect her perspective. I think what applies to accounting firms, generally, applies to all professional service firms. Read more.

Resource: Jennifer Wilson, Journal of Accountancy


"IS YOUR JOB AT RISK FROM ROBOT LABOR?"

Check out this Quartz Media illustration showing which jobs are projected to be most at risk from robot labor. On the far right side—with a likelihood of being replaced by robots in the 90th+ percentile—you'll find legal assistants, paralegals and office administration. Lawyers, judges and true CEOs are least likely to be impacted. With that said, it appears quite likely that technology is poised to eliminate the profession's more mechanical functions, making it a must for firms to elevate their offerings. Read more.

Resource: Nikhil Sonnad, Quartz Media


"KNOWLEDGE IS POWER: TAPPING YOUR FIRM INTO THE KNOWLEDGE OF MILLENNIALS"

Your firm's knowledge about millennials—how they work, what they value, and what motivates them—can help them help you. Here's six ways to get started. Read more.

Resource: Avaneesh Marwaha, Microsystems, Legaltech News


"BIG LAW'S NEWEST COMPETITION FOR TALENT IS AN OLD FOE"

"In the age of the millennial generation, tech is again a tough rival to law firms' associate recruitment and retention efforts." Read more.

Resource: Gina Passarella, The American Lawyer


"TRANSFORMING THE LEARNING LANDSCAPE ONE BYTE AT A TIME"

"What will classrooms of the future be like? Emerging technologies such as cloud computing, learning analytics, artificial intelligence and wearables are paving the way for the future of learning. These promising technologies will change the way we deliver learning and empower us with the data and analytics needed to increase the consumption and efficiency of learning within the law firm." Read more.

Resource: Cindy Mitchell and Eileen Whitaker, Peer to Peer Magazine, ILTA


"6 TIPS TO STABILIZE AND REDUCE OUT-OF-CONTROL IT COSTS"

Firms struggle with the value of IT costs on a regular basis. This short article is a great summary of tips to help control and stabilize costs within your IT Department and network.  Read more.

Resource: Joe Kelly, Peer to Peer Magazine, ILTA


"INSIDE GE’S TRANSFORMATION"

The legal profession tends to be very myopic. This is an incredible look back at the impact of technology and globalization to a 125-year-old company and how they are now being recognized as a "125-year-old startup." There are many 125-year-old law firms. What are old law firms doing to reinvent themselves? Read more.

Resource: Jeffrey R. Immelt, Harvard Business Review



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PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Sharon Meit Abrahams, EdD — Foley & Lardner LLP

Jennifer Colwell, CLM, MBA — McGill, Gotsdinger, Workman, & Lepp

Kevin Costello — Holland & Knight LLP

Tammy Cowser, PHR, CP — Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP

Lisa Dasher, CLM, CPA, CGMA — Wicker Smith O'Hara McCoy & Ford P.A.

Rick Hellers — nQueue Billback LLC

Lana McGinnis, CLM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP — Sturgill Turner Barker& Moloney, PLLC

Paul Morton — Burns & Levinson LLP

Stephen Wolf, CLM — Deutsch Kerrigan & Stiles, LLP

ALA Board of Directors Liaison to Committee

James Cornell III — Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody, PC

ALA Liaison to Committee

Patricia S. Carrera, JD, CKM, CPLP — ALA's Sr. Director, Member Experience

pcarrera@alanet.org; 847-267-1252