Mind the dragon

I’ve written fairly extensively about India and its continuing and future impact on the legal services marketplace. I’ve not paid as much attention to China, but that country’s effect on the legal industry in the 21st century will be profound and could happen sooner than is widely expected. This is a brief note to acknowledge that fact and to suggest you keep a close eye on China’s developing role in the global legal marketplace.

We all know the basics: China is already an economic giant whose engine has kept the global economy from tanking completely over the last couple of years. It holds nearly $1 trillion in US currency, it’s gobbling up natural resources everywhere from Canada to Africa to feed its phenomenal growth, and it’s widely considered the odds-on favourite to dominate, or at least co-dominate, the world in the decades to come. But its legal industry doesn’t seem to be considered a global threat by its western counterparts, thanks in part to a paucity of English speakers, the lack of common-law fluency, and difficulties with the enforcement of the rule of law in China generally.

While all of that may be true, it’s no reason to dismiss or take lightly the opportunities and threats presented by China’s recent but substantial interest in the provision of legal services. Firms that look upon China solely as a source of clients, rather than of potential competition, could be making a mistake. Here are four quick reasons to take China’s legal industry seriously.

1. Growth. China’s legal profession is growing astonishingly fast, from a nearly zero baseline. Thirty years ago, the entire country had only 212 lawyers in 79 law firms; today, those numbers are 150,000 and 14,000, respectively, a huge jump but still proportionally well below the American lawyer-to-population ratio. And there are many more Chinese lawyers on the way: Sida Liu of the University of Wisconsin-Madison told the Georgetown Law Firm Evolution conference in March that China had opened a staggering 500 new law schools in the last ten years. That’s probably too many for anyone’s good, but the critical mass will be there.

2. Sophistication. Chinese law firms are acquiring business and management skills faster than their Western counterparts did at similar stages of development. Leading Chinese (and Indian) firms are moving from eat-what-you-kill arrangements to lockstep partnerships, seeking to establish long-term enterprises that prioritize the firm’s welfare above the individual’s (something that comes more easily in China, culturally speaking, than in the west). Devotees of David Maister’s one-firm firm will recognize this approach. And interestingly, some Chinese firms are already talking about merit-based pay for associates — something still not widespread among US or UK firms.

3. Talent. In China’s legal talent wars, Western lawyers and firms are more often emerging on the losing side. This is happening in law firms — one example that stunned the Magic Circle was the departure of a top Clifford Chance capital markets partner to Shanghai firm King & Wood. But it’s also happening, more importantly, among clients: homegrown in-house counsel are becoming far more common in the Chinese offices of global companies, particularly thanks to their skill at navigating difficult compliance issues in a still-developing business environment. These lawyers have often been trained in foreign firms and law departments, but they’re now flexing their muscles independently.

4. Power. China is working to minimize or overcome those features of its society and economy that limit its global capacities. While English is not nearly as common in China as in India, the Chinese government is busily teaching 200 million of its citizens the language. China needn’t depend heavily on American or English business, not when it’s cutting $60 billion gas deals with Australia or looking to increase $60 billion worth of annual trade with India. One scholar argues that the gap between Chinese law and that practised in the west is narrowing. And as my Edge colleague Rob Millard has pointed out, as economic power diffuses from west to east, the day may well come when Chinese law, not Anglo-American common-law, is the default system for business transactions.

These are all reasons why China’s law firms and legal professionals deserve serious pondering in any consideration of the future legal services marketplace. But here’s one more, and it might end up being the most significant: China’s government has no qualms about owning and directing corporate entities on a global basis. China boasts the world’s two biggest banks and five more in the top 50 worldwide, and the government is an extremely active stakeholder in those banks and their business decisions. Picture the law firm equivalent: a global legal services provider financed and directed by a Chinese state apparatus with pockets so deep it makes massive LPOs look like garage startups by comparison. If you think competing with privately funded service providers with billions at their disposal would be tough, think about competing with a law firm backed by about a trillion US dollars and an extremely persuasive board of directors. That’s a law firm business model no one is contemplating in the West, and it would be a game-changer of the highest order.

This is not, let me emphasize, yet another paean to China’s imminent and inevitable rise to mega-power status: this is a country with plenty of challenges and problems, many of which figure to cause significant trouble and misery inside its borders within the next decade. Nor does it pretend to be an in-depth examination of China’s legal profession, which has issues of its own to cope with. Many things can and likely will still happen to push China off its current trajectory and slow its progress — but these should be delays, not failures. Corporations and governments worldwide are thinking hard about what to do when China truly hits its stride; the legal sector should be doing the same.

Frugal innovation and the law

Lawyers need to learn a very important lesson from a salad spinner.  Specifically, we need to understand the implications of the Sally Centrifuge, developed by students at Rice University in Texas:

The necessary parts: one salad spinner, some hair combs, a yogurt container, plastic lids, and a glue gun. The finished product: a manual, push-pump centrifuge that could be a lifesaver in developing world medical clinics. … A team of college students invented this low-cost centrifuge, which can be built for about $30, as a project for a global health class at Rice University. The teacher challenged them to build an inexpensive, portable tool that could diagnose anemia without access to electricity, and the tinkerers got to work.

The students, Lila Kerr and Lauren Theis, found that spinning tiny tubes of blood in the device for 10 minutes was enough to separate the blood into heavier red blood cells and lighter plasma. Then they used a gauge to measure the hematocrit, the ratio of red blood cells to the total volume. That information tells a doctor whether a patient is anemic, which can in turn help to diagnose conditions like malnutrition, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and malaria. … “We’ve pumped it for 20 minutes with no problem,” Theis said. “Ten minutes is a breeze.” It has proven to be fairly robust. “It’s all plastic and pretty durable,” Kerr said.

If you think the multinational makers of expensive medical devices would fight a cheap innovation like this, then let me also introduce you to the Mac 400, a hand-held electrocardiogram developed by General Electric’s health-care laboratory in Bangalore, as reported in The Economist:

The device is a masterpiece of simplification. The multiple buttons on conventional ECGs have been reduced to just four. The bulky printer has been replaced by one of those tiny gadgets used in portable ticket machines. The whole thing is small enough to fit into a small backpack and can run on batteries as well as on the mains. This miracle of compression sells for $800, instead of $2,000 for a conventional ECG, and has reduced the cost of an ECG test to just $1 per patient.

The Economist goes on to explain, in a special report on innovation in emerging markets, what these developments represent: a reinvention of the product development cycle for markets with very limited resources. Like Japan before them, which developed lean production systems to compensate for a lack of physical space and material, India and China (and a few other smart entities) are developing production systems for buyers without much money, mobility or infrastructure:

[Companies] are taking the needs of poor consumers as a starting point and working backwards. Instead of adding ever more bells and whistles, they strip the products down to their bare essentials. Jeff Immelt, GE’s boss, and Vijay Govindarajan, of the Tuck Business School, have dubbed this “reverse innovation”. Others call it “frugal” or “constraint-based” innovation.

Chances are that you, like me, live in an affluent society and are familiar with unnecessary options. Most of us have more consumer choices than we need or could hope to sample, choices that don’t make our lives that much better or happier. Most of us have never used 80% of the buttons on a standard remote control or could even identify what they do. Most of us with elderly parents wish someone would invent a computer with only four functions: “Read email,” “Write email,” “Send email,” and “Check the weather forecast.” Most of us can, for a few cents, supersize the meal we just ordered, even though what we ordered was enough to satisfy us just a few moments earlier. Collectively, we’re hooked on the idea that more is better — and in our low-cost, resource-rich world, that’s an idea both easy to indulge and profitable to sell. Continue Reading

Why the 2010 InnovAction Awards matter

When the College of Law Practice Management launched the InnovAction Awards in 2004, Western economies had just climbed out of a tough recession (and were busily laying the foundations for a much uglier one) and law firms were starting a run of several years of unprecedented growth and profit. It was a time when the profession’s desire not to rock its revenue boat was stronger than ever; but the College perceived (correctly) that innovation had also never been more important to the legal marketplace, and it wanted to recognize those firms that could demonstrate their commitment to doing things differently and better.

Today, in 2010, innovation in the provision of legal services is breaking out all over. I won’t even try to list all the innovations and inventions emerging from outside the profession — from LPOs to e-discovery software to online legal information to collaborative social networks — that have helped drive this change. But even within the profession, a quick review of reports just in the last month shows us that: Continue Reading

Book Review: The LegalBizDev Survey of Alternative Fees

The LegalBizDev Survey of Alternative Fees, by Jim Hassett, Ph.D. (Boston: LegalBizDev, 2009)

Okay, strictly speaking, it’s a report rather than a book. But I’m so interested in talking about this publication and its importance to the developing field of alternative fee arrangements (AFAs, a topic we’re focused on these days at Edge) that I’m willing to blur genres — and in any event, at 150 pages, it’s not like this is a pamphlet. The LegalBizDev Survey of Alternative Fees is written by consultant Jim Hassett, Ph.D., and is based on interviews with managing partners, senior lawyers and AFA managers at 37 of the largest 100 law firms in the United States. To a critic who objected that a self-selected 37% isn’t a statistically sound sample, Jim replied that while his results may not be scientifically “good,” they’re the best available resource on the subject. That is unquestionably true — but this report is also good, and is worth your time.

The Survey takes an start-to-finish look at AFAs: how they’re defined, how they developed, what drives clients to push for them, bidding strategies for lawyers who want to use them, nine common examples of AFAs, recommendations to both lawyers and clients for maximizing their effectiveness, and what the future holds. Although the author delivers content throughout, especially at the start and finish, the bulk of the Survey is drawn from the respondents themselves, in their own words. That last point is not insignificant: because Jim guaranteed anonymity to his interviewees (the 37 firms are named, but no comment is matched with a firm and all comments are anonymous), he received some wonderfully blunt opinions. Here’s one of my favourites, a quote from a law firm chairman that would never be made for attribution:

“I think it hurts lawyers’ egos to suggest that all of the work that they do is not brain surgery. And when you suggest that they might be able to get away with using people who are not junior brain surgeons, almost everyone will say, ‘Oh, no, no, no. To do my stuff, you really need to be a brain surgeon like me.’ And it’s just ridiculous. I think that there’s an odd and irrational pride in wasting money. It’s gratifying for people to brag to their friends about how much they have to pay summer associates, and how much they pay starting associates, like, ‘Isn’t this a crime? We’re paying young associates more than judges, but hey, they’re brilliant. And they work for me.’ It’s an odd situation. But I think we’ve been able to do that because the market has paid to deal with it. And that may all be over.”

This candour (which, by the way, speaks highly of the trust these lawyers place in Jim Hassett) pays great dividends in the form of unalloyed honesty from these law firm leaders, allowing us to see how they approach AFAs, what systems they set up to deal with them, and the successes (and sometimes failures) that resulted. It’s a pretty safe bet that these folks didn’t share everything they knew on the subject, and at least some of their reports and comments must have been a little self-serving or trumped up. But even if you apply that discount, the insights here are remarkable. I don’t want you to forgo the chance to read them all for yourselves, so here are two good ones:

“In the past, where we have proposed unilaterally various fixed-fee arrangements, the clients have turned them down, because they think that if we proposed them, there must be something wrong with them. We have proposed ten alternative fee arrangements for every one that is accepted. Maybe in-house counsel are afraid that outside counsel will sandbag them by building inefficiencies and excess margins into the fixed-fee quotes. … The larger problem with RFPs and alternative fees in general is really the trust issue.”

“One of our problems is that our partners seem to think they have a better product than the people we’re competing with. And so when the client compares our fixed fee with other firms’, they ask how come we can’t do the work for less. [The partners typically reply that competitors are] not offering the same product that we are, so I ask [the partners], ‘Why are we offering a product that the client won’t pay for?’ It’s a whole mindset that will require a long time to change.”

Much of the value in the Survey is derived from these first-person accounts, but Jim also does a service by rounding up, explaining and giving examples of nine common types of AFAs, along with their pros and cons, from fee caps (“the dumbest deal ever,” according to one law firm respondent) all the way up to portfolio fixed fees, limited contingencies, and holdback arrangements. And his recommendations for success in alternative fee arrangements — both to firms and to clients — are especially valuable. I won’t list them all, but it’s noteworthy that his dual sets of recommendations have two in common for lawyers and clients: improve management and focus on value.

Two things struck me when reading through this report. The first is the perhaps surprisingly high level of savvy displayed by these interviewees: contrary to the popular impression of large law firms in general when it comes to AFAs (an impression often reflected in this blog’s entries, it must be said), there are dozens of smart, informed and motivated lawyers in leadership positions within the AmLaw 100 who not only get the need for AFAs, but who are assessing the challenges, exploring options, and developing systems to implement them. If I were running a large law firm that competes with some of these firms, and I hadn’t done any serious work on AFAs within my organization, this Survey would make a chilling read. Most encouraging is the fact that these lawyers have identified the fundamental stumbling blocks to AFA implementation — cultural, financial, infrastructural — and are doing what they can to address them. That recognition doesn’t make these obstacles any less daunting, though.

The other thing that emerges from this Survey is that large corporate clients aren’t doing nearly enough to promote AFA relationships with their outside counsel. The number of times private-practice lawyers express frustration with in-house departments’ reluctance or intransigence to engage in serious AFA discussions is noteworthy: all too often, law firm AFA proposals to corporate counsel are greeted with polite statements of preference for a discount on hourly rates. Nor are corporate departments any better equipped to project-manage or otherwise administer an AFA system than their outside counterparts: more than one respondent cited the difficulty of trying to tell a general counsel that the lawyers in her department are as much the problem as the solution.

Overall, this is a powerful and important contribution to our collective understanding of alternative fee arrangements in law, a subject that Jim notes really is still in its infancy. For all that, the picture does feel incomplete: all the contributions and opinions come from law firms, and the absence of the in-house lawyer perspective leaves you wondering if general counsel might have a different view of the “reluctance and intransigence” problem about which their outside counsel complain. Perhaps a follow-up survey could speak with GCs of Fortune 500 companies, or be coordinated with the Association of Corporate Counsel as part of its Value Challenge, in order to provide another perspective, or perhaps be merged with the law firm survey to give a holistic view of this evolving area.

But on its own terms, The LegalBizDev Survey of Alternative Fees is a significant and very useful guide to understanding not just what AFAs are and how they work, but also the ongoing challenges and roadblocks to their implementation. Every law firm that seriously intends to tackle alternative fee arrangements would clearly benefit from reviewing this work.

Pieces of me

There’s now textual and videographic evidence that I’ve been kind of busy the last few weeks. If you’re interested, here are some links to assorted content I’ve been producing or helping produce elsewhere than Law21:

1. Two blog posts in the last month at Stem Legal’s Law Firm Web Strategy blog have focused on social media in the law firm enterprise context. Here’s what I had to say about Facebook for law firms and Twitter for law firms.

2. Also at Stem Legal is an announcement about our new Media Strategy Service, under which I’ll be providing communications, media and social media consulting to law firms and legal organizations.

3. Over at The Lawyers Weekly, my new column — a primer on legal process outsourcing and what its impact on the legal services marketplace will look like — has now been posted.

4. Christopher Hill at Construction Law Musings kindly invited me to provide a guest post on how to be an effective construction law client, but it applies to clients in any area of law practice.

5. Shortly after addressing the ABA’s Bar Leadership Institute in Chicago last month, I recorded a series of very short interviews with ABA Now, in which I talked about new mentoring approaches, the evolution of preventive law, and the importance of relationships for bar associations.

6. Before my presentation to a symposium at Georgetown Law School last week on the future of law practice, I recorded a brief interview with Greg Bufithis at MyLegal.com that talked about some of the changes now underway in the legal services marketplace.

How I learned to stop worrying and love project management

Project management is about as close to a silver bullet as the legal profession could ask for these days. Consider:

  • It’s easy to understand.
  • It’s inexpensive to implement.
  • It lowers costs.
  • It improves quality.
  • It enhances communication.
  • It facilitates lawyer training.
  • It makes fixed fees profitable.
  • It makes clients happy.

If it could cure cancer and direct an Oscar-winning movie, it could hardly be a more attractive proposition. For a profession suffering from aggravated clients, shrinking revenues, competitive inertia, archaic business practices and system waste, it’s the nearest we’ll come to meeting the definition of “panacea.” And yet, with few (but increasing) exceptions, there’s not much enthusiasm for it among lawyers and law firms — there’s an odd reluctance to embrace something that clearly delivers so many benefits. Identifying the source of that reluctance tells us something very important about lawyers and our capacity to adapt to the new legal marketplace.

The good news is that project management is starting to catch on within the profession. Two excellent recent articles in the legal press illustrate this, one in Canadian Lawyer (in which I’m briefly mentioned) and one in the Legal Intelligencer, which tells the success story of a law firm (Dechert) that took project management seriously, engaged a consultant (Pam Woldow) to help, and can already see the benefits. More good news comes courtesy of Tim Corcoran‘s terrific blog post that addresses common concerns about legal project management and should be read by every firm whose lawyers are generating static about LPM. There’s also a very good book and a very good blog about legal project management by Steven B. Levy. In short, there’s a growing wealth of resources and reasons for lawyers to leap onto the project management express — yet this train still has many empty seats.

These same articles point us in the direction of the problem. “It’s pretty tough to get lawyers to change their ways,” a big-firm partner told Canadian Lawyer. A regional managing partner at Dechert entered training with deep misgivings about its broad applicability. “Doesn’t legal project management apply only to commodity practices?” is a question Tim Corcoran has to address. Resistance to innovation, yes — we all know that fits lawyers to a T. But what really comes across from these accounts is a sense that lawyers aren’t trying project management primarily because they don’t want to. It’s a resistance that does not, I think, have much to do with lawyers’ inability to grasp project management’s features or benefits. I think it has much more to do with lawyers’ distaste for procedure, systematization, methodology, routine — with process. For most lawyers, as my Edge colleague Rob Millard says, “process is a dirty word.” Continue Reading

Media Strategy Service at Stem Legal

Since entering the consultancy world last October, I’ve been (and continue to be) fortunate to work with two great organizations, Edge International (where my focus is on strategic planning for law firms and the rapidly evolving legal marketplace) and Stem Legal (where my focus is on communications, media and social media for law firms). Today, I’m happy to let you know about a new offering we’re rolling out at Stem Legal: a Media Strategy Service. The announcement by Steve Matthews at the Stem blog provides all the details, but in summary, the Media Strategy Service is an intensive three-month project aimed at revitalizing a law firm’s or legal organization’s dealings with the media. Among the services we provide are:

  • a personal interview to establish your media-related business development goals,
  • an interactive questionnaire to determine your best media options,
  • an inventory and assessment of your current media outreach practices,
  • a customized strategic plan for using the media to promote your practice,
  • a guide to building relationships with key media personnel, and
  • a three-month period of telephone and email delivered consultation on media strategy and interaction.

I’m looking forward immensely to delivering assistance through the Media Strategy Service: it combines my dozen years’ experience in legal journalism and communications with my emerging interest in social media for the legal profession. Check out the MSS main page for more details, and please don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you’d like some more information.

The platform is changing

Seth Godin calls it the WordPerfect Axiom, and he’s exactly right: When the platform changes, the leaders change.

WordPerfect had a virtual monopoly on word processing in big firms that used DOS. Then Windows arrived and the folks at WordPerfect didn’t feel the need to hurry in porting themselves to the new platform. They had achieved lock-in after all, and why support Microsoft. In less than a year, they were toast.

When the game machine platform of choice switches from Sony to xBox to Nintendo, etc., the list of bestelling games change and new companies become dominant. When the platform for music shifted from record stores to iTunes, the power shifted too, and many labels were crushed.

Again and again the same rules apply. In fact, they always do. When the platform changes, the deck gets shuffled. …  Insiders become outsiders and new opportunities abound.

This is happening, right now, in the legal services marketplace. The platform for legal service delivery is changing, and if you’re standing on it — and most lawyers are — you’re going to find it very difficult to keep your balance.  The platform used to be the traditional, top-down, hourly-billing, pyramidic law firm, where lawyers set the parameters for where, how, and at what price their services would be made available. Other potential platforms were either underfunded, impractical, or unauthorized. The legal profession as we know it today grew up secure and well-fed on this platform and has flourished as a result. Now, a platform shift is occurring.

We’ve already felt some tremors; now the full-scale quakes are arriving. Howrey LLP is preparing to cut 10% of its partnership after experiencing a 35% drop in equity partner profits. Clifford Chance has changed its governance structure allowing it to do the same thing. A major report from Hildebrandt and Citibank warned that more de-equitizations are coming this year because there’s nothing else left for firms to cut. Respected New York IP boutique Darby & Darby disappeared without warning (and, if you believe the accounts at Above The Law, it went out poorly). Corporate law departments are pulling work back in-house, spending less on outside counsel and turning to alternative fee arrangements. Law firms across the United States are cutting back radically on law student and new lawyer hiring (sample stat: median summer offers per firm dropped from 30 in 2008 to 8 in 2010). And looming over everything is the prospect, now little more than a year away in England & Wales, of full-scale non-lawyer equity ownership of law firms.

We can’t blame this on the recession anymore — what we’re seeing is more fundamental than that. The traditional platform for legal service delivery is giving way, overburdened by its own inefficiencies, inflexibility, and market-unfriendliness. In its place is emerging a new platform — the internet. And on that platform is springing up a multitude of new models by which clients can purchase the legal services they want, whether through virtual or distributed law firms with minimal overhead, advanced software for the completion of simple documents or the facilitation of basic transactions, process-savvy lawyers in other countries or quasi-lawyers in our own jurisdictions, and other platforms yet to emerge that we can’t currently envision. The common thread is client customization: the type, quality, and timeliness of service you want at the price you’re prepared to pay. Law firms will emerge and compete on these bases as well, but they’ll be far from the only game in town.

It’s a revolution, and like all revolutions, the benefits will lag behind the costs. It’s going to be messy and even ugly for awhile — platform shifts are neither neat nor bloodless. Think back to the hassles we all went through with Word-to-WordPerfect conversions while the two programs battled it out. Remember the upheaval in the auto industry as electricity began to shove oil off its fuel platform and the damage that caused to gigantic automakers saddled with suddenly unsellable gas-guzzlers. Think of the carnage in the record and newspaper industries as the internet took away their platforms and rewrote the rules of their games. It may take longer, it may not be as brutal, and it may not generate as much attention in the wider world, but the legal services marketplace is starting to go through something very similar. And there will be casualties.

It’s ironic that Seth chose WordPerfect for his lead example — the legal profession was one of the very last professional groups to abandon WP for the now-ubiquitous Word. Many lawyers to this day insist that WordPerfect was the better program, but when the platform changed for good, even lawyers eventually had to switch. The parallels are close enough to be striking and extremely uncomfortable.

When the platform changes, outsiders replace insiders and opportunities abound. Get ready.

Calendar of events

The next few weeks are booked solid for me, as I prepare for a series of presentations and workshops throughout March. So in exchange for fewer posts over the next month, I thought I’d let you know what I’ll be doing, where I’ll be doing it, and what I recommend you look into doing as well. (Only public events are noted here, of course.)

On March 11, I’ll be in Chicago to deliver a plenary speech and moderate a roundtable discussion for the American Bar Association’s Bar Leadership Institute, an annual gathering of more than 350 new bar leaders from across the United States. The subject of the address will be the rapidly evolving nature of legal practice and its impact on bar associations. I’ll be fortunate to share the stage with two people whose work I admire: Edward Adams, editor and publisher of the ABA Journal, and Carole Silver, executive director of the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at Georgetown University and a member of the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20. Here are full details of the event.

On March 18, I’ll be returning to the ABA, but this time by phone. I’ll be co-hosting a webinar on alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) for the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section, along with my Edge International Consulting colleague Rob Millard and Valorem Law Group founding partner Patrick J. Lamb. The webinar, titled “Rethink Legal Billing: Align Your Firm to Alternative Fee Arrangements,” will open with an assessment of what AFAs are and why they’ve suddenly emerged as the hottest topic in lawyer-client relations. The discussion will continue with an in-depth look at the project management and business process engineering aspects of successful AFAs, and close with first-hand experiences with AFAs in real-world situations. Watch the ABA LPM home page for registration information.

And on March 22, I’ll be in Washington, D.C. at the afore-mentioned Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at Georgetown University, which is sponsoring a symposium titled “Law Firm Evolution: Brave New World or Business As Usual?” I’ll be part of a panel discussing new lawyer training methods at some innovative U.S. law firms and contrasting them with Canadian law firms’ articling programs. But the real draw will be the luminaries at the podium throughout the event. Check out this partial list of panellists: Richard Susskind, Stephen Mayson, Dan DiPietro, Bruce MacEwen, Susan Hackett, Leah Cooper, Mark Chandler, Jeff Carr, Aric Press, and managing partners or senior partners from several global law firms. Here’s a downloadable PDF of the agenda.

(Also in Washington, on March 17-18, my colleagues Gerry Riskin and Karen MacKay will be hosting the first of a series of Law Firm Leaders Development Workshops designed to help managing partners and practice group leaders grow their leadership skills and perfect profitability and change management. Highly recommended.)

Finally, although it’s a few months down the road, I’ll also let you know that I’m speaking at the Law Society of Upper Canada’s 5th Annual Solo and Small Firm Conference and Expo in Toronto on May 14. Since I’m appearing there in my dual capacity as an Edge partner and a Stem senior consultant, I’ll speak once on strategic/future of law matters and once on social media opportunities for lawyers.

These sorts of events are always extremely interesting for me — speaking both with other panelists and with attendees is a great opportunity to take the profession’s pulse. If you or your organization would be interested in having me speak or facilitate at an event, by all means please drop me a line or read more about it. And if you’ll be attending any of the foregoing events, please let me know!