What does the future of the legal market look like? There will be more intense competition among providers, investments in technology will continue to be important as well as key collaboration across vendor types will become essential, as we learned at Legalweek New York.
Steve Kolavan and Nicholas Bruch of ALM Intelligence hit upon several trends during their state of the industry presentation in the opening session, including the emergence of collaboration among law firms, alternative legal service providers and other legal tech vendors.
At the Business of Law Forum’s “The Evolution of the Legal Services Delivery Model,” experts looked at how are clients consuming legal services today, and where the law firm fits into it.
Evidence is showing the industry is changing. Speaker Mary Shen O’Carroll, head of Legal Operations, Technology & Strategy at Google, noted there is more focus on law as a business and pointed to the growth of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC).
“There is a growing separation between the practice of law and the delivery of law as a service.”
Speaker Mark Cohen, CEO of Legal Mosaic and Chief Strategy Officer at Elevate Services, told the audience, “There is a growing separation between the practice of law and the delivery of law as a service.” He and other speakers said that the law firm business model needs to change, but Cohen said the biggest obstacle to real change at law firms is the legal culture.
“GCs and their firms need to think and act like the business,” speaker Mark Smolik, Vice President, General Counsel, Secretary & Chief Compliance Officer at DHL Supply Chain Americas, told the audience.
General counsel also assume their outside law firms have expertise and expect those firms to deliver it. This was brought up at a session at the Business of Law Form specifically addressing what general counsel want and why law firms struggle to meet it. According to the 2017 Altman Weil Chief Legal Officer Flash Survey, 48.3% of law firms reported shifting a portfolio of work worth $50,000 or more from law firm to another because of client service.
Key clear expectations must be communicated by the GCs. If the law firm doesn’t know what’s expected, of course, it can’t meet expectations. He went on to say general counsel need “to provide (law firms) with insight into your goals and strategies, and then measure their performance.”
Key collaboration between GCs and law firms comes down to communication. Audience members in attendance at the session were then asked what they see as preventing better collaboration. Some of the issues they came up with included focusing on just legal issues instead of including business issues; attorneys not being comfortable asking clients, “How can we help you partner or in-source?” and instead fighting it; and misalignment of the incentive structure.
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