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Legal Secretaries Of The Past & Present: Do Lawyers Need A New Support Staff System?

How did eighteen and a half minutes of tape vital for the Watergate investigation get erased? Just ask Nixon’s longtime and very loyal secretary Rosemary Woods. She demonstrated in court exactly how she “accidentally” erased evidence that could have changed American history in the early 1970s.

Think that’s bad? Secretary to Oliver “Ollie” North, a National Security Council aide, admitted in trial that she helped shred important documents during the Arthur Andersen-Enron debacle. Fawn Hall thus played a key role in exposing the arms-for-hostage deal that occurred during the Iran-Contra affair.

Single mom Erin Brockovich became famous for having Julia Roberts play her in a movie about her life—overshadowing, perhaps, her true claim to fame as being the legal secretary who exposed an industrial polluter.

Gone is the day when there was a traditional “legal secretary.” Just short of becoming another Brockovich, legal secretaries do not fit the one-size-fits-all model.

Legal powerhouses WilmerHale, Bingham McCutchen, and Arnold & Porter are among many established firms that are changing the way legal secretaries provide and channel administrative support to attorneys. Many top firms have completely revamped the work, the roles, and the ratios of legal secretaries by:

  • Redefining administrative positions,
  • Standardizing the work,
  • Enhancing teamwork, and
  • Applying creative new administrative models to expand coverage ratios.

Changing the way administrative assistants are assigned and utilized starts with a real-life assessment of what lawyers do and don’t need from their assistants.

But how can you analyze attorney needs and revamp its administrative approach for max savings (without sacrificing quality)?

First, analyze your needs. Ask your lawyers, from junior associates and senior partners, how they are using your support staff services, and what needs are not being met. Make sure to write down which of these needs are billable and which are not.

Then, ask your support staff how they think their services are being used. Do they think lawyers ask too much? Too little? Your support staff is best equipped with knowing what services they are able to provide, and what training or tools are needed to go further.

Next, determine what kind of model is needed for your firm. For example, your firm can match the skill set of secretaries to individual needs or it can assign single secretaries to particular types of work—transcription, case matter organization, answering the phones.

What hours of the day are busiest?

Do your legal secretaries prefer flexible or part-time schedules? Do their preferences conform to your lawyers’ needs? Is there middle ground?

Finally, write down your firm’s measures of productivity and achievement. Then, design a training program for your support staff that sets them up for success.

This year, make sure your legal secretaries are famous, not infamous.

For more concrete tips and tricks, attend the Center for Competitive Management (C4CM)’s webinar, “Legal Secretaries: Methods to Revamp, Regroup & Reassign Administrative Services for Max Profitability & Productivity” on Wednesday, October 22, 2014, from 2pm to 3:15pm EST.

Read more about “Some Real Secretaries Are As Famous As The Fictional Ones,” in Margo Harakas’s article for the Sun Sentinel here.

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Silver Spooners Or Boostrappers? Billionaires Teach Law Firms About The Most Incentivizing Compensation Models

Ebola on American soil, ISIS and Iraq troops not coming home, unemployment rates still not where they should be… there’s so much despair for Americans these days.

However, today we reason again to be proud of our nation. No money? Low-paying job? Victim of abuse or discrimination? Today is your day to become a billionaire.

The American dream is still alive and well—perhaps more so than in previous decades, reports Forbes.

A new study conducted by Forbes examines the wealthiest people in the U.S. and the lengths they had to go through to make their way to the top.

It turns out, when you look at the numbers over time, the data shows that in 1984, less than half of people on The Forbes 400 were self-made; whereas today, 69 percent of the 400 created their own fortunes.

In fact, many of today’s wealthiest people were born into poverty, or lower middle class, and had to overcome obstacles such as being left an orphan, forced to work low-paying jobs, or faced abuse or discrimination.

“Oprah Winfrey… grew up dirt poor, raised alternately by her single mom and her grandmother, and was sexually abused by several male relatives,” writes Agustino Fontevecchia for Forbes.

“And George Soros… survived the Nazi occupation of Budapest, fled Hungary under Communist rule and worked his way through the London School of Economics as a railway porter and a waiter.”

Howard Schultz, creator of Starbucks, is the son of a New York truck driver and was the first person in his family to go to college. With a personal net worth of $1.5 billion, Schultz only gets ranked 354th richest person in the U.S. Not bad for an ex-Xerox employee.

Jan Koum, entrepreneur, grew up outside Kiev in Ukraine and moved with his mother and grandmother California in 1992, where a social support program helped the family to get a small two-bedroom apartment. Koum worked as a cleaner at a grocery store and only became interested in programming at the age of 18. He enrolled at San Jose State University and simultaneously worked at Ernst & Young as a security tester. Today, you may have heard of his little mobile messaging application—WhatsApp—which was acquired by Facebook for $19 billion.

But if you’re in a law firm office, thinking, “I’m not an entrepreneur.” That may be true, but you can still act like one. What does it take to live the American Dream? Hard work.

The common thread among all these stories is the “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps.” These success stories aren’t about luck or timing. They’re all stories of persistence and patience.

Lawyers are no strangers to being cash rich, time poor. It’s the price you pay for working hard. But even our bootstrap billionaires had help.

Before developing WhatsApp, Koum visited his friend Alex Fishman and the two talked for hours about Koum’s idea for an app over tea at Fishman’s kitchen counter.

Gayle King, now a co-anchor of CBS This Morning, is most famous for being Oprah’s right-hand (wo)man.

In a discussion at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council in 2006, Alvin Shuster, former foreign editor of the Los Angeles Times, asked Soros, “How does one go from an immigrant to a financier? When did you realize that you knew how to make money?” (via Wikipedia).

Soros replied:

“Well, I had a variety of jobs and I ended up selling fancy goods on the sea side, souvenir shops, and I thought, that’s really not what I was cut out to do. So, I wrote to every managing director in every merchant bank in London, got just one or two replies, and eventually that’s how I got a job in a merchant bank.”

That job was an entry-level position in Singer & Friedlander, whose help and training was crucial in making the business magnate and investor who he is today.

When it comes to compensation models, it’s important to reward hard work and bootstrap attitudes. But hard work is often bolstered by teamwork, which does not temper or take away from any individual person’s contribution.

Teamwork should be encouraged. According to a recent New York Law Journal article, the ‘eat what you kill’ compensation model for law firms does not motivate partners to share intelligence or collaborate; it lowers firm efficiency and profitability.

This is why many law firms are transitioning their methods of allocating origination credit, transferring some to other members of the firm and not just senior partners.

Failure to handle this crucial compensation component correctly could kill your firm’s competitive advantage—and your own chance at becoming a billionaire.

The Center for Competitive Management (C4CM)’s audio course “Origination Credit and Partner Compensation: Incentivizing Collaboration for Increased Efficiency and Profitability” details the best management practices for when and how to track, allocate, transfer and transition origination credit for partner compensation in a manner that enhances firm collaboration.

With your order you also get C4CM’s top-selling best practice guide, Law Firm Origination and Cross-Selling Credit—a $249 value—absolutely free. Even if you struggle with the financial side of law, that’s the kind of math you can get behind.

The big difference between silver spooners and bootstrappers? For young entrepreneurs–or young lawyers–the monetary impact of hard work on your life is much higher. With the right incentives, your firm can incentivize all of its attorneys, not simply the senior partners, to attract clients and promote new business at the firm.

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Legal Mentoring Or Mental Coaching? Sports Star Advice About Securing A Successful Mindset In Law Practice

Professional golfers, like most athletes have a team of coaches for every aspect of their game: swing coach, short game coach, strength and conditioning coach. However, one of the most important coaches on the roster might just be the one you’d least expect: the mental coach.

Yet, when PGA pro-golfer Jason day needed to replace his regular caddie in an important tournament, that’s exactly where he looked for help, reports Forbes Contributor Carmine Gallo in his article, “5 Mental Tune-Ups To Deliver the Presentation Of Your Life”.

“When asked how he hits a good shot, Jack Nicklaus once attributed 50 percent of it to having a solid mental picture. Only 10 percent was the swing itself,” continues Gallo.

So who is the mental coach in the practice of law?

Attorneys are rarely alone on the courtroom floor. There’s first chair and second chair to back them up. Which is why it is especially important to recognize the value of mentorship and mental coachmenship in the legal profession.

Here are some qualities from some of world’s greatest coaches of all time that law firm professionals should look for in a workplace mentor:

Be animated when you argue

Whether it’s a presentation pitch to a new client or an opening statement by counsel, you should not be afraid to be animated in your arguments. When you look for a mental coach, look for a person with a great sense of passion for his or her practice.

Slow and steady, Bobby Cox, four-time winner of Manager of the Year, led the Braves to a division title every playable season from 1991 to 2005, and a World Series win in 1995. He also holds the record for most ejections of all time with 158.

“And then you’ll probably have to write a $500 check. Or you can do what I do, write a $10,000 one and tell them when it runs out, let me know,” Cox infamously said.

Have faith in your team and your strategies for moving cases toward a win. Surround yourself with people of similar attitudes.

Take wins graciously

In sports, like law, it’s all about the win. But, for every win there’s sure to be a loss—or at least a setback. Which is why it is important to take all news, good or bad in stride.

A mental coach will respect tenacity, the ability to keep going, rain or shine, win or lose.

“I celebrate a victory when I start walking off the field. By the time I get to the locker room, I’m done,” said the leader of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Tom Osborne.

Osborne never won fewer than nine games in a season and won national championships in 1994 and 1995, as well as a share of a third in 1997.
He led a powerful ground game and tenacious defense, leaving a legacy and a record of 60–3 over his final five seasons, as the fastest coach in Division I-A history to win 250 games.

Osborne didn’t stop there. He was eventually elected as a member of Congress. Clearly people respected the personality of leader, desired the stick-with-it attitude of a man who wants to get things done, and were looking for a mental coach in their political representation.

Don’t sweat the small things

A mental coach knows that disputes between colleagues or gossiping, for example, can bring down the productivity of a case.

Walter Alston knew that about his team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. He won seven National League pennants in 23 years as the Dodgers Manager. He also knew how to keep his team focused.

“Individual grievances and pet peeves have got to go by the wayside. Generally, you don’t have to worry about the guys who are playing every day, it’s the guys who are sitting on the bench that are the ones that get needles in their pants,” said Alston.

Law firm professionals need mental coaches who have no patience for pettiness.

Don’t hurry, hustle!

Chuck Noll earned respect for his winning and caring nature. Under Noll’s leadership, Joe Gilliam became the league’s first African-American starting quarterback and Franco Harris became the first African American to win the Super Bowl MVP award.

Noll knew how to cultivate talent. He also realized that winning isn’t about rushing through plays, but about the moment when mental preparedness meets action:

“Good things happen to those who hustle.”

Law firm professionals, like professional athletes, have a lot to gain by a well-nurtured mental game.

Take The Center for Competitive Management’s audio course, “Integrating Legal Mentoring With Law Practice Management,” to find out more about how successful firms create a culture in which mentoring and coaching becomes an inclusive process that is fully integrated with how it does business.

Need other inspiration? Read “The 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time.

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Legal Mentoring Or Mental Coaching? Sports Star Advice About Securing A Successful Mindset In Law Practice

Professional golfers, like most athletes have a team of coaches for every aspect of their game: swing coach, short game coach, strength and conditioning coach. However, one of the most important coaches on the roster might just be the one you’d least expect: the mental coach.

Yet, when PGA pro-golfer Jason day needed to replace his regular caddie in an important tournament, that’s exactly where he looked for help, reports Forbes Contributor Carmine Gallo in his article, “5 Mental Tune-Ups To Deliver the Presentation Of Your Life”.

“When asked how he hits a good shot, Jack Nicklaus once attributed 50 percent of it to having a solid mental picture. Only 10 percent was the swing itself,” continues Gallo.

So who is the mental coach in the practice of law?

Attorneys are rarely alone on the courtroom floor. There’s first chair and second chair to back them up. Which is why it is especially important to recognize the value of mentorship and mental coachmenship in the legal profession.

Here are some qualities from some of world’s greatest coaches of all time that law firm professionals should look for in a workplace mentor:

Be animated when you argue

Whether it’s a presentation pitch to a new client or an opening statement by counsel, you should not be afraid to be animated in your arguments. When you look for a mental coach, look for a person with a great sense of passion for his or her practice.

Slow and steady, Bobby Cox, four-time winner of Manager of the Year, led the Braves to a division title every playable season from 1991 to 2005, and a World Series win in 1995. He also holds the record for most ejections of all time with 158.

“And then you’ll probably have to write a $500 check. Or you can do what I do, write a $10,000 one and tell them when it runs out, let me know,” Cox infamously said.

Have faith in your team and your strategies for moving cases toward a win. Surround yourself with people of similar attitudes.

Take wins graciously

In sports, like law, it’s all about the win. But, for every win there’s sure to be a loss—or at least a setback. Which is why it is important to take all news, good or bad in stride.

A mental coach will respect tenacity, the ability to keep going, rain or shine, win or lose.

“I celebrate a victory when I start walking off the field. By the time I get to the locker room, I’m done,” said the leader of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Tom Osborne.

Osborne never won fewer than nine games in a season and won national championships in 1994 and 1995, as well as a share of a third in 1997.
He led a powerful ground game and tenacious defense, leaving a legacy and a record of 60–3 over his final five seasons, as the fastest coach in Division I-A history to win 250 games.

Osborne didn’t stop there. He was eventually elected as a member of Congress. Clearly people respected the personality of leader, desired the stick-with-it attitude of a man who wants to get things done, and were looking for a mental coach in their political representation.

Don’t sweat the small things

A mental coach knows that disputes between colleagues or gossiping, for example, can bring down the productivity of a case.

Walter Alston knew that about his team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. He won seven National League pennants in 23 years as the Dodgers Manager. He also knew how to keep his team focused.

“Individual grievances and pet peeves have got to go by the wayside. Generally, you don’t have to worry about the guys who are playing every day, it’s the guys who are sitting on the bench that are the ones that get needles in their pants,” said Alston.

Law firm professionals need mental coaches who have no patience for pettiness.

Don’t hurry, hustle!

Chuck Noll earned respect for his winning and caring nature. Under Noll’s leadership, Joe Gilliam became the league’s first African-American starting quarterback and Franco Harris became the first African American to win the Super Bowl MVP award.

Noll knew how to cultivate talent. He also realized that winning isn’t about rushing through plays, but about the moment when mental preparedness meets action:

“Good things happen to those who hustle.”

Law firm professionals, like professional athletes, have a lot to gain by a well-nurtured mental game.

Take The Center for Competitive Management’s audio course, “Integrating Legal Mentoring With Law Practice Management,” to find out more about how successful firms create a culture in which mentoring and coaching becomes an inclusive process that is fully integrated with how it does business.

Need other inspiration? Read “The 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time.

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Don’t Be The Best, Just Better: Lessons From Obama To Law Firms About Measures Of Success

The latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows unemployment at just 6.1 percent—the lowest since 2007. This means President Obama outperformed Reagan on jobs growth and investing, reports Forbes.

This is great news. But in a way you may not expect.

A study by researchers at the University of Warwick and Cardiff University found that money only makes people happier when they perceive this money as being higher than their friends and colleagues. In a nutshell, people are only happy when they’re doing better than others.

“Our study found that the ranked position of an individual’s income best predicted general life satisfaction, while the actual amount of income and the average income of others appear to have no significant effect,” said lead researcher Chris Boyce about his findings in the paper “Money and Happiness: Rank of Income, Not Income, Affects Life Satisfaction” published in the journal Psychological Science.

“Earning a million pounds a year appears to be not enough to make you happy if you know your friends all earn 2 million a year.”

So when it comes to unemployment numbers, Americans are less satisfied to know that an additional 2.5 million new jobs will be created in 2014, or that 142,000 jobs were created last month alone. These are just numbers, not statistics.

Americans are only happy if they discover this year is better than the year before it. And, while this decade will never outperform the last, the 2000s-2010s could have the 1970s-1980s beat.

In the 1980s, President Reagan dealt with a recession much like the one President Obama is grappling with today, which is why the two are so often compared.

“President Reagan has long been considered the best modern economic President. So we compared his performance dealing with the oil-induced recession of the 1980s with that of President Obama and his performance during this ‘Great Recession.’” said Bob Deitrick, CEO of Polaris Financial Partners and author of Bulls, Bears and the Ballot Box, to Adam Hartung for Forbes.

And what did the comparison show? President Obama’s job creation prevented unemployment from peaking at as high a level as President Reagan, pushing people into the workforce faster than President Reagan.

“President Obama has achieved a 6.1% unemployment rate in his sixth year, fully one year faster than President Reagan did. At this point in his presidency, President Reagan was still struggling with 7.1% unemployment, and he did not reach into the mid-low 6% range for another full year. So, despite today’s number, the Obama administration has still done considerably better at job creating and reducing unemployment than did the Reagan administration.”

Which is great news for those who are keeping score—and studies show, we are all, consciously or not, keeping score.

Taking the lesson of comparative gains into account, law firm managers might consider reassessing some of their policies of business practices. For example, you may not be able to offer bonuses to employees this year, but perhaps you can offer comparatively better benefits (that cost your firm less to offer).

Clients may not care as much about the price per hour for your legal expertise as much as the fact that it is comparatively lower than your closest competitor.

Last year, two-thirds of law firm revenue involved flat rates and other “alternative fee arrangements” or pre-negotiated discounts to billable hours. What are these discounts, and can your firm offer comparatively better ones?

The Center for Competitive Management offers a webinar that explores the latest tools and approaches that law firms are using to set prices that are fair, collaborative, and align firm pricing with client-defined value.

This means providing a comparative advantage when you can’t provide an absolute one.

Sign up for the webinar titled “Law Firm Pricing: Developing a Pricing Capability, Negotiating Fees, and Locking in Clients,here. It takes place from 2:00pm to 3:15pm EST on Thursday, September 25, 2014.

During this interactive session, you will learn real-life strategies as employed by top pricing managers/directors in the field, including:

  • What clients really want from firms in terms of value and pricing (and how to deliver)
  • The latest pricing practices at top firms and how they might work for you
  • How to assure that pricing and overall firm strategy intersect (and make fiscal sense)
  • Why project management data is essential for developing successful pricing
  • Latest Alternative Fee Arrangements trends in 2014, and how legal AFAs have changed in the last five years
  • Factors to consider before your firm brings in a pricing director/manager (and what to do with them once they arrive)
  • A day in the life of a pricing manager: responsibilities, who they should report to, etc.
  • Getting Started: steps your firm can take today to begin a pricing culture reinvention
  • Top five pricing mistakes and how your firm can avoid them
  • Much more…

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Success, A State Of Mind & 5 Things To Make You Better At Your Job Today!

Being “successful” is a state of mind. It doesn’t matter if you feel overlooked by your boss, underestimated by your colleagues, or even underprepared for the work required. There’s only one person who is stopping you from succeeding today: y-o-u.

Just can’t manage to get ahead?

Always feel like you’re behind?

Feeling too old for the job at hand?

Reframe your mindset today with these five simple steps and see better performance instantly:

1. Know your best asset

Everybody has one asset by which they excel. Perhaps you’re a quick writer. Maybe you’re a “people person.” Whatever that skill is, hone it (and own it!).

Make yourself indespensible for this asset. For example, if you have a great personality for handling and selling new business to the firm, ask to be a part of business development. Go out and find new clients just by being your best personable self.

Are you good with computers? Interact with the IT department and pitch new software or tech ideas to improve the efficiency of your firm’s practice.

Write down your talent on a sticky note and look at it everyday. Reminding yourself brings a can-do attitude, even when the hump of Wednesday is hard to get over.

2. Make daily task lists

Some people think lists are a waste of time. You know exactly what you need to do today, why waste valuable billable hours on a list?

Lists help everyone organize their daily activies by importance. It’s not enough to understand the tasks, you must also seperate those that are urgent and those that are not. Associates often start their day with easy tasks–the ones you can do quickly. It feels great to cross them off your list, right?

Wrong. Start your day with the most urgent tasks. This way you’ll stop procrastinating and start prioritizing.

3. Create (and complete) one goal a day

Now that you know what your daily tasks are, look at your schedule and make a goal for the day. Don’t make broad, long-term goals like, you will finish that brief or file that motion.

Focus on immediate issues that are manageable for the day. For example, you will finally schedule a group meeting about a client matter. Or, you will read and then respond to each of your emails (that you’ve let sit for a few days already).

By creating and comleting one simple goal each day, you will find you go home more satisfied with your performance, which is vital to job satisfaction.

4. Take care of your personal items

Yes, just like it’s important to complete one professional goal each day, it’s important to fulfill a personal one, as well.

Find the time at lunch or before 9am to take care of a personal matter–whether it’s finally organizing childcare for the weekend or looking up the time for a spin class at your gym for after work. 

It’s difficult to concentrate on work when there are personal tasks hanging over your head. By taking the time out of work to carry out a personal task, you will go to the office refreshed and refocused. You will also have something to look forward to later–a night out with friends, dinner with a spouse, or an overdue restful, child-free weekend!

5. Grow as a professional

Yes, you’ve organized your agenda, created a managable work-life balance, and gone home with a sense of pride in your work for the day. But, what skills or talents have your developed to become a better you in the future?

Just like you should be aware of your own natural abilities to succeed, you should be aware of your shortcomings, too. Work on areas where you’re weakest. Say, making use of technology available at your firm, or communicating with subordinate employees. Maybe you haven’t tried to improve on those things pointed out to you in your last professional evalutation.

Learn a new language. Get certified in a new technical skill. Attend a professional conference in your free time on behalf of your firm.

Today, do something new in order to grow into the best you tomorrow.

Are you a law firm manager who needs to get this message about employee empowerment across to your troops?

Do you face unimaginable pressure to streamline costs, improve profitability, and do more work with fewer employees?

In order to be successful in today’s harried corporate culture, you need to master the critical skills and competencies required for building and maintaining a productive and profitable workplace. Productivity is a powerful tool, that when harnessed correctly can help you address daily stressors, improve cooperation, complete tasks on-time, and sharpen your company’s competitive edge. Sign up now for The Center for Competitive Management (C4CM)’s audio course on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 from 3pm EST to 4:15pm EST:

Smart Manager’s Guide to Building a Productive Workplace: 10 Proven Strategies to Boost Personal and Employee Productivity

This interactive, practical and effective event, explores 10 proven tips to boost personal and employee productivity. During this information-packed session, you will learn how to: Build a workplace atmosphere that encourages cooperation, productivity,Better enable employees to do their work, without excessive oversight, andRemove common obstacles that prevent productivity. Learn more about it here.

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Are You David Or Goliath? Why Small Law Firms Will Dominate In The Future

Is the death of BigLaw on the horizon?

Society loves a good David and Goliath story, where the underdog transforms a perceived weakness into his advantage. We feel better knowing that size isn’t always the only thing to matter in life or in business.

BigLaw has long been the legal services industry’s Goliath. Small firms have struggled to keep pace and survive.

All the best talent graduating from law school are quickly scooped up by the biggest cities’ best names.

However, for a long time, clients have demanded more than just power and influence. They want innovative practices, diversity, and mostly they want discounted rates that large firms don’t offer. With an oversupply of capable lawyers, clients can finally afford to demand services tailored exactly to their needs, which is why we’re seeing more and more small firms face off and take down behemoth opponents.

In turn, doe-eyed associates are no longer looking for long hours typical of BigLaw firms. Young associates want an even work-life balance, flexibility, and a job that gives them a sense of purpose.

“What I observe every day as the CEO of Priori, a curated marketplace that connects business owners with vetted lawyers at transparent prices, is that mid-tier firms are shedding associates something serious,” writes Basha Rubin in her articleBig Law, Big Problems: The Bright Future For Small Firms,” for Forbes.

“These lawyers want flexibility and independence—to service the clients that inspire them, at prices and pricing models that don’t cause potential business to blanch, at a rhythm and schedule that is sustainable.”

Luckily for both clients and lawyers, technology has provided a means for flexible workplaces, at-home offices, and more efficient work practices.

As a result, individuals are starting to form their own firms, servicing clients that they admire, that they choose. “These lawyers are entrepreneurial, gung ho, and ready to compete,” continues Rubin.

“Technology is the catalyst for their coming dominance.”

BigLaw is tied to tradition, fixed costs, and fixed mindsets. It’s much harder to convince a dozen veteran partners to try something new than it is at a smaller firm. Training associates and coordinating tasks at BigLaw firms with thousands of employees is much more challenging.

BigLaw is slower to adopt new technology or ideas. On the other hand, small firms, although lacking in manpower or pure numbers, are proving surprisingly efficient.

“Previously disaggregated and fragmented, they can use technology to improve their efficiency with new tools that automate document production and assembly, workflow management research, and contract review. (PlainLegal, LawPal, Diligence Engine, Ebrevia, Ravel Law, Judicata) With this arsenal, they can maintain high-quality work at lower prices,” boldly purports Rubin in her article for Forbes.

And lower prices have become the number one selling point to attract clients.

Not all legal professionals are convinced, however, than small firms are in slingshot range of BigLaw. An post on 3 Geeks and a Law Blogreacted to Rubin’s article, stating:

“BigLaw may suffer on the edges (ala Patton Boggs), but clients still need their services. Small Law can’t or won’t step into the breach (except in certain circumstances). And LPO’s will continue to nibble at the edges, but are not apparently taking away large portions of legal work from large firms. So the Big Disruption seems unlikely any time soon.”

According to 3 Geeks, legal services remain too complex for small firms to completely take over. Who is best to settle complexity? An equally complex system of services offered by BigLaw.

Whatever your opinion on the rise of small firms or fall of BigLaw, one things all parties agree on? Legal technology is arming the best combatants.

Regardless of size, if you want to be successful, your firm must be competent in today’s cutting-edge technical skills.

Malcolm Gladwell thinks Goliath was the victim, the real underdog who never stood a chance with his oafish sword against the skillful David and his quick and deadly slingshot.

Because, in the end, you never want to be the one who brings a knife to a gunfight.

Think your firm already has the technical skills necessary to compete in this fast-paced, tech world? Take C4CM’s course: Suffolk/Flaherty Technology Audit: Is Your Firm Ready?

D. Casey Flaherty, corporate counsel at Kia Motors America, developed this technology audit and tested nine large firms. All nine firms failed! Of the associates approached the assignments in ways that would have required five to 15 times longer than necessary. At $200 to $400 per associate hour, from the client’s perspective this equals inefficiency and wasted billable time.

Taking his tech audit to the next level, Flaherty is now working with Professor Andrew M. Perlman at Suffolk University to formalize the outside counsel tech audit as a FREE tool for other inside counsel. What does this free audit mean for your firm?

Will your lawyers pass the tech test?

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