Law Firms of the Future

Kate Harry ShiphamThe future of the legal industry

by: Kate Harry Shipham

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the 2016 LMA New England Regional Conference in Boston. The focus of this year’s program was “Law Firms of the Future: Navigating for Success,” which gathered close to 200 legal marketing professionals and providers for two days of refreshing, meaningful and progressive content.

Our very own Jennifer Scalzi co-chaired the event, along with Savannah Alden (Client Development Specialist, WilmerHale), and Kate Boucher (Senior Business Development Manager, Foley Hoag).

Over the course of two days, thirty speakers covered diverse topics ranging from: CRM, analytics, and succession planning to getting lawyers better engaged in BD. I’ve summarized the sessions I attended for interested colleagues who may find the content valuable in their organizations.

1. Harnessing Predictive Analytics to Drive Client Growth and Retention, a joint presentation by DLA Piper (Barbara Taylor, Heather Reid and Kim Rennick from DLA Piper) and Axiom Consulting Partners (Dave Kuhlman and Mark Masson from Axiom Consulting Partners):

  • Marketers can gain power and influence over their attorneys and partners when using this data in the right way to predict client behavior. This is an entirely fact-driven approach, the logic of which will resonate with attorneys because it is reliant on something that is unlikely to be disputed. That data is widely available but highly underutilized, despite it’s ability to help predict patterns as critical as client spending. Marketing teams can and should leverage that information to help their attorneys make informed decisions
  • The willingness of a BigLaw firm to allow us to see insights into their challenges, despite their market position, reputation, and size was gracious and comforting to all attendees. It shows a vulnerable side that most people in the legal sector are not comfortable sharing, and it provided inspiration to many in the room who are facing the same challenges

2.    Mindfulness in the Workplace, by Rachel Shields Williams from Sidley Austin:

  • Mindfulness is about focusing one’s mind and awareness on the present, to calmly acknowledge thoughts and feelings without judgment, and being in the key state of mind of simply being present. Remembering to use these teachings in the workplace has said to improve overall effectiveness and focus
  • A timely reminder to everyone that taking some time each day to not get caught up in life and work and allow ourselves to be occupied by technology and reacting to situations and things.  Watching a room full of people at a conference with their eyes closed for one minute to begin this very simple but effective practice was powerful

3.    Navigating Unconscious Bias: Potential Impact and Real World Strategy, by Patricia Hennessy from Hennessy Consulting Group and Marguerite Fletcher from Fletcher Legal Consulting:

  • Through real time examples Patricia and Marguerite showed the conference attendees how we unconsciously display bias and judgment every single day. We unwittingly “fill in the gaps” on situations and people and let that color our perceptions
  • The powerful takeaway from this session was to recognize the instances where we form conclusions without the facts to back them up. We risk stifling the potential of our departments, our firms and even ourselves if we make assumptions that limit the contributions of our peers

Our industry is evolving, and how we will adapt depends largely on how well we listen to our peers. Last week’s conference was a reminder of the many talented professionals who are willing and eager to help light the way to ensure today’s firms are ready to become firms of the future.