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Business development Strategie

Innovating your law firm

“Disruption” in de advocatuur. Wat nu?

Wanneer ik opleidingen geef aan advocaten, of workshops leid in kantoren, dan stel ik vaak de vraag wie er booking.com of tripadvisor.com gebruikt bij het boeken of reserveren van reizen. De overgrote meerderheid blijkt deze onlinediensten te gebruiken. En als ik vervolgens de vraag stel wie er nog beroep doet op een klassiek reisagentschap, gaan er hoog uit een paar handen omhoog.

De advocatuur is tot nog toe grotendeels gespaard gebleven van disruptieve online concurrentie zoals die in vele andere sectoren heeft plaats gevonden. Het bewustzijn groeit dat dit niet kan blijven duren. Nochtans zie ik heel weinig kantoren die echt bezig zijn met verandering.

Als de reissector een voorbeeld is dan zijn voorspellingen dat minder dan de helft van de advocaten de revolutie zullen overleven nog optimistisch. Nochtans zie ik weinig kantoren die zich voorbereiden op een strijd op leven en dood.

Een voor de hand liggende reden is dat de macht in vele kantoren bij een generatie advocaten ligt die er – wellicht terecht – van uitgaan dat het “hun tijd nog wel zal duren”. Maar dat is slechts een deel van de verklaring. Vele oudere advocaten zijn immers oprecht begaan met de toekomst van het beroep in het algemeen, en van hun jongere vennoten in het bijzonder.

Belemmeringen voor verandering in de advocatuur

Een jaar geleden besprak ik op deze blog het boek van Jaap Bosman “Death of a law firm” . Bosman geeft in zijn boek aan waarom het voor advocatenkantoren zo moeilijk is om aan de toekomst te werken. Ik som de redenen die hij aangeeft nog even terug op:

  • Advocaten zijn vanuit de aard van hun werk sterk gericht op details. Een verkeerd geplaatste komma kan een essentieel verschil uitmaken. Maar door voortdurend op details gericht te zijn wordt het tegennatuurlijk om “hoogte” te nemen.
  • Advocaten worden door hun klanten betaald om hen te hoeden voor risico’s. Ik heb in het verleden vaak onderhandeld met een advocaat aan mijn zijde. En hun taak was om mij te wijzen op de risico’s die vervat zaten in bepaalde voorstellen. Die risico’s kon ik eventueel nog steeds aanvaarden maar wel met kennis van zaken. Een ondernemer moet risico’s nemen en ik merk bij mijn klanten-advocaten hoe dat voor hen tegennatuurlijk is.
  • Advocaten zijn vanuit de aard van hun beroep “vechters”. Hun opdracht is om de belangen van hun klanten te verdedigen. Een logische beroepsmisvorming is dan ook een groot wantrouwen. Zij gaan ervan uit dat ook de anderen exclusief opkomen voor het eigen belang. Zulk een wantrouwende aard werkt het teamwerk niet in de hand. En een klantgerichte aanpak verondersteld een absolute interne transparantie.

Focus op details, “risk aversity”, en wantrouwen zijn enkele van de eigenschappen van goede advocaten die het hen moeilijk maken om duidelijke strategische keuzes te maken en klantgericht te werken.

Naast deze remmende kenmerken eigen aan vele advocaten geeft Bosman ook belemmeringen aan die het gevolg zijn van de structuur en de organisatie van de kantoren:

  • Vele kantoren zijn kostenassociaties waarbij beslissingen collegiaal genomen worden en waarbij iedereen moet instemmen voor het aangaan van bepaalde kosten.
  • De “managing partner” is geen CEO maar een primus inter pares met een tijdelijk mandaat. Vooral dat tijdelijk karakter belet hem of haar, onpopulaire beslissingen te nemen en door te drukken.
  • De winst wordt jaarlijks uitgekeerd wat investeren op lange termijn onmogelijk maakt.
  • Het nog steeds overheersend model van facturatie per gepresteerd uur brengt met zich mee dat de kantoren gefocust zijn op de top-line (zo veel mogelijk factureerbare uren) en niet op de bottom-line. Er bestaat geen enkele incentive voor productiviteitsverbetering. Klanten nemen dat niet langer.

Maar als een kantoor ondanks al deze belemmeringen er toch in slaagt om duidelijke keuzes te maken, en een sterk klantgericht toekomstplan uit te werken, blijft dat plan meestal dode letter. Bosman bespreekt in die context over de “interne vijand”:

  • Het obstruerend gedrag van de “weakest 20%”,
  • de eindeloze discussies over onbelangrijke details,
  • de voorkeur voor discussie over actie,
  • de zoektocht naar perfecte, “deus ex machina”, oplossingen voor alle problemen.

Kiezen is moeilijk

Het ganse verhaal van Jaap Bosman herken ik overduidelijk.

Ik hou mijn klanten steeds opnieuw voor dat marketing moet gebouwd worden op een sterke strategie, en een strategie bepalen betekent dat men keuzes maakt. Kiezen is moeilijk en dat is niet enkel zo voor advocaten. Kiezen houdt immers per definitie risico is. En dus is het voor de advocatenkantoren, met hun inherent risicomijdend gedrag, extra moeilijk.

Vanuit KnowtoGrow helpen wij de kantoren bij het maken van keuzes. Een boeiende activiteit.

Keuzes implementeren is nog veel moeilijker.

Maar, zoals ik hierboven al schreef, ook wanneer er goede keuzes gemaakt worden, worden deze meestal niet geïmplementeerd.

Als adviseur is het zeer frustrerend om telkens opnieuw te moeten aanschouwen hoe de aanvankelijk duidelijke keuzes bij de implementatie afgezwakt worden. Kantoren die hun relatieve sterktes niet uitbouwen tot onoverwinnelijke machtsposities, maar hun beperkte middelen, energie en aandacht, blijven verdelen over een breed gamma van markten en diensten, zonder enige onderscheidende aanpak.

Innovating your law firm

Pogingen om organisaties te innoveren lopen zelden vast bij het ontwikkelen van de visie en het plan, maar meestal wel bij de implementatie.

Bijna in alle veranderingsprocessen geldt dat 15% van de mensen graag pionieren, 70 % afwachten, en 15 % oppositie plegen. Wanneer deze percentages evenwichtig verdeeld zijn over de verschillende bestuursniveaus betekent dit dat de verschillende tendensen elkaar in evenwicht houden, en de kracht van de inertie ervoor zorgt dat er niet veel veranderd.

Innovatie kan grootschalig zijn (een strategische re-oriëntatie van het kantoor) of kleinschalig (het verbeteren van het onthaal van nieuwe klanten). Maar zonder actieve begeleiding zullen de goede bedoelingen steeds vastlopen op de hierboven geschetste belcurve.

Om succesvol te innoveren moeten alle betrokkenen aan boord gehesen worden. Dat vraagt tijd, en energie. Omwille van sommige van de hierboven geschetste belemmeringen zijn er weinig advocatenkantoren die de nodige tijd en energie vrij maken om succesvol te innoveren. Nochtans is innovatie noodzakelijk geworden in de advocatuur zoals in de rest van de wereld.

Op vraag van onze klanten hebben Align Coaching (Anne-Laure Losseau) en KnowtoGrow (Ben Houdmont) de handen in elkaar geslagen om onze klanten te begeleiden bij hun (grootschalige of kleinschalige) innovatietrajecten. Geïnteresseerd meer te vernemen over onze aanpak en referenties? Aarzel niet om ons vrijblijvend te contacteren (Ben Houdmont 0495 58 76 47 – Anne Laure Losseau 0486 30 82 26) of via het informatieformulier .

Omgaan met “disruption” in de advocatuur

Alle bedreigingen zijn opportuniteiten. Het identificeren van de opportuniteiten voor uw kantoor is niet éénvoudig, maar toch niet de grootste moeilijkheid. De echte uitdaging is ervoor te zorgen dat uw kantoor die opportuniteiten met succes grijpt.

Klassieke reisagentschappen bestaan nog, en hebben nog steeds een meerwaarde. Sommige zijn “niche” agentschappen geworden, gespecialiseerd in bepaalde bestemmingen of type van reizen. Andere zorgen dan weer voor een uitzonderlijk persoonlijke service, een uitzonderlijke “user experience”, of hebben “producten” uitgewerkt die niemand anders aanbiedt.
Deze reisagentschappen hebben zich aldus “heruitgevonden”. En de meest succesvolle blijven zich voortdurend heruitvinden. Zij vragen zich voortdurend af wat hun klanten wensen en passen hun dienstverlening daar telkens opnieuw aan aan. Geen grote omwentelingen maar een continu proces. Voor deze bedrijven is veranderen en verbeteren een tweede natuur geworden. En zij behouden aldus hun meerwaarde voor de klanten, en hun voorsprong op de concurrentie.

Weinig advocatenkantoren hebben al zulk een proces van voortdurende verandering op gang gebracht. Nochtans wordt dit noodzakelijk om te overleven op termijn. Wij staan te uwer beschikking om u daarbij te helpen. Aarzel niet om ons vrijblijvend te contacteren (Ben Houdmont 0495 58 76 47 – Anne Laure Losseau 0486 30 82 26).

Categorieën
Algemeen Business development Organisatie Strategie

Must read: “Death of a law firm” door Jaap Bosman

Het boek van Jaap Bosman “Death of a law firm”, uitgegeven door de American Bar Association, is verplichte lectuur voor iedereen begaan met de toekomst van de (zaken-)advocatuur.

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Algemeen Business development Content Marketing Kanalen Klantenbeheer Pricing

Bericht aan de advocatuur. Een gesprek met Anne De Wolf, Legal Trend Watcher

Er is in België wellicht geen persoon met een beter inzicht in de, voorbije en komende, evoluties van de zakenadvocatuur dan Anne De Wolf. Gedurende 15 jaar stond zij aan het hoofd van het Instituut voor bedrijfsjuristen, dat onder haar hoede uitgroeide van een bescheiden vereniging met 400 leden (BVBJ) tot de actuele professionele organisatie die 2000 bedrijfsjuristen vertegenwoordigt.

Categorieën
Algemeen Strategie

The Future Lawyer

This article by New Law specialist Mark A Cohen, was first published on LegalBusinessWorld

One way to describe the future lawyer is to list some key challenges attorneys will confront, then identify skillsets required to meet them.

1. Defending the rule of law. This is democracy’s foundation and the mortar for its institutions. Lawyers are its first responders and last defenders. The rule of law is under siege around the world, and lawyers—present and future– must respond to the challenge. As a young Danish lawyer told me recently, ‘I grew up as a child of the EU taking freedom for granted; I don’t anymore. I’m glad I became a lawyer so I can fight for it.’
2. Insuring access to justice. The rule of law is undermined when a significant portion of society lacks meaningful access to legal representation. Such is the case in the US and UK—elsewhere, too. Law has a distribution problem; there are too many unemployed and under-employed attorneys while millions of potential clients go unrepresented because they cannot afford counsel at current rates. Tools exist to correct this imbalance. Technology, process, project management, collaboration, and new delivery models are at the fingertips of future lawyers that can use them to refashion legal delivery.
3. Preserving a free press and insuring that social media and ‘fake news does not subvert fact, evidence, and democratic institutions. Defending a free press has long been a mission for lawyers. Social media has broadened that ongoing challenge. For many, social media is their ‘news’ source– an ‘alternative press’ that lacks veracity filters and can ‘go viral’ in minutes. Social media is rapidly eclipsing traditional media, providing a global platform for ‘alternative facts,’ propaganda, and misinformation masquerading as ‘news.’ Lawyers must not allow the fact-agnostic court of public opinion to marginalize the judicial process. They must also take the lead to streamline the judicial process, utilizing technology and process to make it more accessible, agile, faster, and cost-effective than our outdated court systems are today.
4. Insuring diversity in the legal profession. The world is more inter-connected than ever before. A more diverse legal profession is essential to enhance public confidence in the rule of law. The UK recently took a bold step in that direction with its ‘Super Exam.’ The UK’s independent Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) has dispensed with formal legal training as a requisite for attorney licensure. It has created an exam that tests knowledge of core legal principles; competency; contemporarily relevant skills (project management, technology as applied to legal delivery, interviewing clients, etc.); and experience. In providing various paths to licensure, the SRA intends to insure lawyers are practice-ready upon entry into the profession. The ‘Super Exam’ also reduces the cost of legal training and, in doing so, promotes professional diversity. This is a great step towards creating ‘the future lawyer,’ one that other countries should examine carefully.
5. Ensuring adherence to ethical standards. Law is big business—some estimates peg it at $1trillion per year. But law is also a profession governed by ethical standards. Lawyers will be exposed to old and new ethical challenges—client pressure to ‘push the envelope,’ economics, and the ‘ethics of technology’ to mention but a few. Future lawyers must adhere to ethical standards to protect the rule of law and to ensure that the dual role of law as a profession and a business is preserved. They must deliver ‘faster, better, cheaper’ legal services but never compromise on ethics. Future lawyers must utilize available tools to provide greater access, collaboration, and alignment of interest with clients; that is their ethical duty to individual clients and to society.

What Is A Lawyer?

The Oxford Dictionary defines a lawyer as, ‘A person who practices or studies law; an attorney or counselor.’ That’s a broad definition. It can be expanded to include: (1) licensure; (2) adhering to a code of ethics; (3) upholding the law; (4) simultaneously representing clients that retain them and society; (5) rendering professional judgment; and (6) representing clients in tribunals/transactions and where specialized expertise is required.

Lawyers are in the persuasion and collaboration business. They must persuade prospective clients that they are the right counsel for the engagement; opposing counsel that they are a formidable adversary; and judges that they are competent and ethical. Lawyers use persuasion – within the bounds of ethical conduct — to effect positive, value driven results for their clients. At the same time, a lawyer must also be collaborative. Many people – lawyers included – mistakenly believe that litigation and negotiation is a zero-sum game. Not so. The overwhelming majority of ligation matters are settled; that requires a combination of persuasiveness and collaboration– with opposing counsel, clients, and the court – to effect settlement. Likewise, completed commercial transactions require a combination of persuasion and collaboration by counsel. The widespread use of technology in legal delivery will place an even greater premium on lawyers possessing intellectual intelligence (IQ) and emotional intelligence (EQ). Persuasive, collaborative lawyers merge the two.

Collaboration will have an even broader scope for future lawyers. Disaggregation – the migration of ‘legal work’ from law firms to other legal providers – requires that lawyers collaborate not only with other attorneys but also with technologists, paraprofessionals, project managers, and other professionals. Future lawyers will collaborate across geographies, cultures, and in different political and regulatory environments. Future lawyers must ‘collaborate’ with technology – especially artificial intelligence applications – as well. Technology will not supplant lawyers, but it will enable legal services – and products – to be delivered differently than the traditional law firm partnership model. Technology will continue to recast what tasks lawyers perform and from what models and at what price points they deliver them. Law was once about selling legal expertise. Now, legal delivery is a three-legged stool supported by legal, technological, and process/project management. The fundamentals of what lawyers do – legal practice – have not changed much. But what has changed dramatically is how legal services are delivered — by whom, utilizing what resources, from what kind of business structure, at what cost, for what types of business challenges, and in a way better aligned with client expectations and sense of value. This is why the future lawyer must enter the marketplace with considerably more expertise than simply a knowledge of doctrinal law.

A Checklist of Skillsets for the Future Lawyer

For a long time, simply ‘knowing the law’ was the sole requirement for lawyers to deliver legal services. Those days are over. The future lawyer must augment core legal knowledge with other skills including:
(1) understanding technology’s application to and impact on the delivery of legal services (e.g. e-discovery, cyber-security, contract management, legal research, etc.);
(2) project/process management;
(3) basic business fluency;
(4) client management;
(5) collaboration;
(6) sales and marketing;
(7) an understanding of global legal marketplace developments;
(8) cultural awareness for what has become a global profession; and
(9) emotional intelligence/’people skills.

Emotional intelligence is widely overlooked as a critical legal skill. Top lawyers with high intellect (IQ) and people skills (EQ) will always thrive, no matter how pervasive technology becomes in legal delivery. Future lawyers – like physicians that have morphed from medical practice to the delivery of healthcare – will return to the role of ‘trusted advisers.’ They will interpret data and apply their professional judgment to solve client challenges. In some ways, future lawyers will be ‘returning to basics’ and performing only those tasks that they are uniquely trained to do. Technology, process, and other paraprofessionals and professionals will liberate them to focus on these core tasks. This will better serve clients even if there might sometimes be a harsh economic impact on mid-career attorneys caught between two different legal delivery models.

Conclusion

The legal vertical, long dominated by law firms, is undergoing a tectonic shift in its buy/sell dynamic. This is a result of remarkable advances in technology, globalization, and the aftermath of the global financial crisis that has radically transformed so many verticals. The legal guild is being replaced by a more client-centric, accessible (24/7/365), technology-enabled, process driven, knowledge management based, cost-effective, collaborative, agile, and global delivery model.

This is the golden age of the legal entrepreneur. Regulatory barriers established by the self-regulated legal industry that frustrate competition are either being re-regulated or are being cast aside by clients that are migrating more- and more complex- work to providers other than law firms.

The future lawyer will play an integral role in this transformation. Millennials are already impacting the legal buy/sell dynamic by introducing new, technology and process enabled, agile legal delivery models. They are converting many legal ‘services’ into ‘products (especially in the compliance, contract, and regulatory areas). Delivery of legal services is no longer a staid, hierarchical, monolithic model whose economics are misaligned with clients. It is a global marketplace where the future lawyer can collaborate, design, and deliver new products and services across nations and continents. It’s a time of great opportunity for future lawyers to bring millions of new customers into the marketplace—for the benefit of all.

As the lawyers of the future recreate the legal marketplace, they must zealously defend the rule of law. Its defense will be their most important matter, a constant reminder of what it means to be a lawyer and why the profession is so important to preserving the freedoms so many take for granted.

Categorieën
Business development Klantenbeheer Organisatie Pricing Strategie

Why law firms should focus on adaptation now, not disruption

This article was first published on  LegalBusinessWorld International

Recently Ron Friedmann poured cold water on the notion that large law firms were anywhere close to being “disrupted” — to losing the commercial legal services market to high-tech NewLaw raiders. Disruption? More Like Incremental Change for Big Law, he said, and it’s hard to argue. Many commentators claim that tech, especially artificial intelligence (AI), will do something to Big Law. I disagree. Tech more likely will do something in it: incremental change.

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Business development

Will AI and technology disrupt Law Firms?

This article by Ivan Rasic (CEO LegalTrek) was first published on LegalBusinessWorld International in reaction to  “Bots, Big Data, Blockchain, and AI Disruption or Incremental Change?” by Ron Friedman (Founder Prism Legal and Consultant at Fireman & Company) that had also been published on the LegalBusinessWorld website.
“Many commentators claim that tech, especially Artificial Intelligence (AI), will do something to BigLaw. I disagree. It will more likely do something in it – incremental change…” Ron Friedmann

Media does seem to be all too hyped about emerging technologies, and their application in the legal industry. Just think, how many articles have you seen lately that included “AI” and “Law” in their headline?
Moreover, those headlines usually predict the demise of law. According to those sources, the raw computational power and cold algorithmical precision will destroy everything on its way to market domination. However, technology ALONE does not (yet) have the power to replace legal service professionals. I will elaborate below, but before that, let us see what disruption looks like in practice.

How exactly will tech disrupt the legal industry?

Ron argues (and provides some historical examples as well) that every piece of technology developed (and adopted) thus far ended as a support to service professionals. And I second his arguments. Also, I second Ron’s view that too many commentators are quick to foresee the disruption, yet, they provide no clarity on the way, nor the dynamic in which this is going to happen. And disruption is not that difficult to portray.
Especially since we have many past examples (e.g. the industrial revolutions) to analyze).

Matthew Burgess recently described on the LegalTrek Blog what disruption looks like, and what steps it usually takes before gaining the full momentum.

As you can see in that article:
• Matthew correlated disruption with NewLaw players, NOT the technology ITSELF; and
• Matthew illustrated a pathway that disruption takes, usually at the outskirts of the val- ue chain.

The disruption, contrary to the popular opinion, does not happen overnight. It starts at the bottom and displaces the incumbents at the market margins. Disrupting companies (not technologies) feed of the bottom until they grow enough to start pursuing more valuable work. They shrink the pie piece by piece for the incumbents. Incumbents are slow to move due to their legacies (e.g. attitude, procedures, size), and, until they make radical moves, they are doomed to be taken out of the market.This is a process that can take decades. For exam- ple, people talk about LegalZooms, and Rock- etlawyers. How many do actually know that LegalZoom actually started around the late nineties?
All that being said, I am not advocating that law firms should be in a standstill, since there is plenty of time. Quite the contrary – I urge law firms to move and transform their prac- tices so they can be ready to meet the future. My goal here was simply to portray the dis- ruption process in a nutshell. I do so here since I feel this is very frequently missed by all those articles that praised the AI, BigData, etc. as the sole destructors of the legal profession.

Do law firms completely ignore tech-nology?

Again, this is one of the main tropes in all the “run for the hills, the end is nigh” articles. However, there are examples and (at least) anecdotal evidence that law firms are using alternative legal providers and algorithms to enhance the low-level work.
For example, this article claims the lower-paid work handled by juniors is now almost entirely gone, and replaced by alternative service ven- dors, in the Am Law 100. The partners, arguably, focus mostly on the least price-sensi- tive work.
Further, Richard Burcher recently polled law firm partners during the latest Validatum Pricing Forum. Richard asked the following questions:

 

AI replacing lawyers?

AI a priority in law firms?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though the sample is somewhat limited (the poll was held among the audience present at the event), it seems that it goes in line with Ron’s points of view. Law Firm partners are aware of what technology can do for them. And some of those are using the AI technology even now to restructure their operations.
Yes, some of the legal professionals will be replaced. And the chart suggests law firm partners believe so as well. But the displacement will focus on the low level work.
As always, technology is moving the needle. It helps us do more with less critical resources (time, human touch). But it does not remove the need for human judgement and support.

Will technology put lawyers out of business?

I believe my view is already clear enough from all the arguments and examples given above. And I have recently answered this same question on Quora. No, technology, in its most nar- row sense, WILL NOT replace lawyers, or put law firms out of the business. Algorithms still do not have the capacity to render the services, even if able to answer complex questions. These still need to be managed by people. People still need to make judgements, and provide a supporting role around the service itself (e.g. estimate budgets, manage projects, etc.). Technology will certainly transform the legal service delivery process itself, but not remove lawyers entirely. What is happening now is that lower level legal staff gets displaced. This can easily be mitigated if only law schools recognize in time that lawyers nowadays need a broader perspective and skillset. Good news are that some schools do. However, Ron and me are not alone in this view. D. Casey Flaherty mentioned a few AI solutions during our recent Webinar: Is the Billable Hour Slowing Down Innovation, and he agrees those are still in the supporting role

 

New competition for law firms

If tech will not disrupt legal industry, then why so much panic?

When talking about technology and disruption in legal, some people take LegalZoom as a clear example of how tech already disrupts legal profession. But this argument is flawed, mostly because LegalZoom is not a piece of technology (nor it is really a technology company). Axiom Law, likewise, is not a tech company, and, arguably, are their use of tech is not on a high level at all. Axiom Law is a service company. Both Axiom and LegalZoom are what we today describe as Alternative Legal Service Providers, also know as the NewLaw. Now, the NewLaw has the potential AND the capacity to displace law firms, in a segment or even entirely. In fact, that is even happening right now as we speak (well, as you read, anyways). In my recent post Law Firms vs NewLaw: How to face the future of legal services? I gave a breakdown of the competitive landscape to law firms (see the point #3 in the article). This is one of the data charts I refer to when it comes to the competition
(this one is from the Altman Weil 2016 Report “Law Firms in Transition”)

And while NewLaw displaces the BigLaw (and even puts more pressure on smaller law firms as well) does that mean NewLaw will abolish the need for legal service professionals? Absolutely not. Someone still needs to do the work. Right?

What is actually going on nowadays is the TECTONIC shift in terms of the business model. The old Pyramid model is going away, while the new model, the Rocket, starts to flourish. Please note on the chart below that Rocket is augmented by technology AND still employs legal service professionals.

What can you expect to happen?

Finally, to conclude and to answer the start- ing question here:
1. No, technology (i.e. algorithms) will not remove the need for legal service professionals, nor put law firms out of business. In fact, it will assist their work and make them much more agile;
2. the NewLaw certainly has the pow- er to put law firms out of business, as it happens today, as illustrated above;
3. the NewLaw will not remove the need for legal service professionals. Quite the contrary – it OUT- SOURCES to lawyers and/or em- ploys them, in order to be able to have the work and intellectual power.
There is simply no reason to run for the hills just yet. Quite the contrary – law firm partners must remain with their feet firm on the ground, mind clear and open for the future. Examine the situation, understand what is coming, and find your spot in the new legal industry landscape.