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The Law Firm of the Future

Adapting to a Changed Legal Marketplace

John M. Westcott

During the “golden age of law firm growth” from the late 1960s until 2007, most large law firms adopted a default growth strategy, increasing practice areas and offices, aided by the momentum of the tail winds of law firm growth. Since the recession of 2008-2009, however, the legal marketplace has drastically changed. In this timely book, Jay Westcott suggests strategic building blocks that firms can adopt in order to adapt themselves to this radical change and prosper as lasting institutions.
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Index

John M. Westcott

About the author ix

Jay Westcott ix

John M. Westcott, Jr. ix–x

Westcott Legal Consulting LLC x

administrative staff 105–110

Strong administrative staff Chapter 9, 105–110

advancement of women 79–80

Diversity and advancement of women §5.10, 79–80

age discrimination 129

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) §13.1, 129

Associates 87–91, 96, 97, 139–141

Associate compensation §8.2, 96, 97

Evaluating associates §7.2, 87–91

Hiring patterns; associate compensation §14.2, 139–141

Attitudes of lawyers §14.7, 146, 147

billing alternatives 9, 10, 78

Rising billing rates; billing alternatives §1.5, 9, 10

budget 78

Setting and meeting a budget §5.7, 78

building blocks 49–53

The key building blocks §3.2, 49–51

The key building blocks of a lasting and successful law firm Chapter 3, 49–53

business model 149

The profitable business model for today’s market §14.9, 149–150

business plan 102–104

Information statement or business plan §8.5, 102–104

Client relationships §1.4, 8, 9

client service 70–80

Client service Chapter 5, 70–80

Learning from other client service businesses §5.4, 75–76

Negative comments from clients §5.2, 71–73

Positive comments from clients §5.3, 73–75

compensation 26–29, 47, 48, 93, 95–104

Compensation consistent with evaluation §7.5, 93

Fair compensation Chapter 8, 95–104

Financial rewards §1.15, 26–29

The importance of a fair compensation system §2.12, 47, 48

conclusion 152–154

Conclusion Chapter 15, 152–154

consolidation 14, 15, 147, 148

Consolidation 1.8, 14, 15

Future consolidation of law firms §14.8, 147, 148

controlling growth 36, 37

The advantages and disadvantages of controlling or restraining growth §2.5, 36, 37

culture 16–18, 52, 124, 125, 153, 154

A culture of excellence §15.3, 153, 154

Building an attractive firm culture §3.4, 52

Creating a firm worth preserving §12.4, 124, 125

Firm culture and governance §1.9, 16–18

Difficulty in addressing new markets §2.4, 35

distinctive 152, 153

Make your firm distinctive §15.2, 152, 153

diversity 79, 80

Diversity and advancement of women §5.10, 79, 80

Dividing the Pie: An Analysis of Law Firm Compensation Systems About the author ix, 95

early retirement 135

Early retirement §13.4, 135

economies of scale 143, 144

Size of the law firm; economies of scale §14.5, 143, 144

elevation to partnership 46, 47, 141, 142

Elevation to partnership §14.3, 141, 142

The importance of a high partnership standard 2.11, 46, 47

evaluating lawyers 45, 46, 87–94

Evaluating lawyers Chapter 7, 87–94

Evaluating lawyers at all levels 2.10, 45, 46

Explaining of the evaluation to the lawyer; firm standards §7.6, 94

excellence 153, 154

A culture of excellence 15.3, 153, 154

Executive Director 105, 106

Executive director §9.2, 105, 106

feedback 90, 102

Feedback to partners §8.4, 102

financial rewards 26–29

Financial rewards §1.15, 26–29

firm growth 5, 6

Firm growth §1.2, 5, 6

Flexibility of legal roles §14.4, 142, 143

free benefits to clients 79

Providing free benefits to clients §5.8, 79

Fundamentals of Law Firm Management About the author ix, 45

future marketplace 150, 151

The future marketplace §14.10, 150, 151

future of the profession 138–151

The future of the profession Chapter 14, 138–151

geography 34, 35

Geographic scope §2.4, 34, 35

governance 16–18, 54–59

Comparison of the governance structures of large law firms and business corporations 4.2, 54–57

Effective governance Chapter 4, 54–59

Firm culture and governance §1.9, 16–18

government lawyers §1.13, 23, 24

Hale and Dorr ix, Introduction 3, 4, 112

hiring patterns; recruiting; mobility 10–12, 139–141

Hiring patterns; associate compensation §14.2, 139–141

In-house legal departments §1.12, 21, 22, 23

institution 52, 53, 85

Assessment from an institutional firm-wide viewpoint §6.5, 85

Building a lasting institution §3.5, 52, 53

Introduction 1–4

Large law firms and the success of the growth model Chapter 1, 5–29

lateral partners 14, 92, 93

Evaluating lateral partners §7.4, 92, 93

leadership 61–65, 83, 84

Department and practice group leaders §6.3, 83, 84

Individual partner leadership §4.6, 61–64

Motivating partners to be leaders §4.7, 64, 65

Office leadership §6.4, 84

legal marketplace of today and tomorrow 20, 21, 138–151

The future of the profession Chapter 14, 138–151

The legal marketplace of today and tomorrow §1.11, 20, 21

legal roles 142, 143

Flexibility of legal roles §14.4, 142, 143

legal talent pool 25

Evolving of the legal talent pool §1.14, 25

Listening to partners §4.5, 60, 61

management committee 63, 66, 67

The balance between the management committee and the managing partners §4.9, 66, 67

managers (staff) 109

High–level managers §9.4, 109

managing partners 66, 67, 122–124

Developing young partners’ management skills §12.3, 123, 124

Involving many partners in management §12.2, 122, 123

The balance between the management committee and the managing partners §4.9, 66, 67

mandatory retirement 129–133

Rationale for mandatory retirement policies §13.2, 130–133

marketing 144–146

Marketing a firm’s authentic strengths; recruiting lawyers to a strong practice area or office §14.6, 144–146

mobility 10–13

Recruiting; mobility §1.6, 10–13

New business models for the future Chapter 2, 30–48

offices 84, 86

Office leadership §6.4, 84

Supporting strong practice groups and offices; withdrawing support from

weak ones §6.6, 86

Offices opened to follow clients §2.4, 34, 35

overcapacity 41, 42

Why certain firms are not facing overcapacity §2.8, 41, 42

Parental leave policies §11.4.3, 118, 119

partners 92, 93, 97–101

Evaluating partners §7.3, 92, 93

Partners’ compensation §8.3, 97–101

Part-time and remote work §11.4.4, 119

performance 81–86

Assessing firm performance Chapter 6, 81–86

Review of performance of a practice or an office §6.2, 81–83

practice group 86

Supporting strong practice groups and offices; withdrawing support from

weak ones §6.6, 86

practice leadership 59, 60

Critical role of practice leadership §4.4, 59, 60

practice management 76–78, 110

Practice management §5.6, 76–78

Practice management (administrative) §9.5, 110

Pressure on lawyers to bill hours §1.7, 13–14

priorities 42–45

Establishing priorities: even-handedly evaluating practices and offices §2.9, 42–45

professional treatment 111–114

Encouraging positive behavior §10.2, 111–113

Smoothing the rough edges §10.3, 113, 114

Treating everyone professionally Chapter 10, 111–114

Profitability §1.10, 18–20

quality of life 115–121

Balancing professionalism and quality of life Chapter 11, 115–121

Maintaining a healthy non-professional life §11.2, 116

Respecting the individual §11.6, 120, 121

recruiting 10–13, 144–146

Recruiting; mobility §1.6, 10–13

Marketing a firm’s authentic strengths; recruiting lawyers to a strong practice area or office §14.6, 144–146

retirement policies 129–137

Philosophy of retirement; prevalent attitudes §13.1, 129, 130

Range of attitudes re: retirement §13.3, 133–135

Rationale for mandatory retirement policies §13.2, 130–133

Retirement policies Chapter 13, 129–137

The importance of a retirement policy to firm strategy §13.6, 136, 137

Rising billing rates; billing alternatives §1.5, 9, 10

rough edges 113, 114

Smoothing the rough edges §10.3, 113, 114

Shearman & Sterling 5

Firm Growth §1.2, 5, 6

size 32, 33, 37, 38, 143, 144

Financial disadvantage of ungainly size §2.6, 37, 38

Size of the law firm; economics of scale §14.5, 143, 144

The advantages and disadvantages of large size §2.3, 32–33

Social interaction and support §11.4.5, 119

Specialization §1.3, 7, 8

strategy 32, 39, 40, 51, 52, 58, 59, 65, 66, 86

Implementing changes in strategy §4.11, 68

Logically and objectively setting strategy §3.3, 51, 52

Presenting the firm strategically §4.12, 69

Setting strategy §4.3, 58, 59

Should the firm revise the governance structure to charge someone with setting strategy? §4.10, 67

Strategy for firms that need to pare back §2.7, 39, 40

The right strategy for the changed legal market §2.2, 32

Who sets the strategy? §4.8, 65, 66

strong practice groups and offices 86

Supporting strong practice groups and offices; withdrawing support from weak ones §6.6, 86

succession planning 122–128

Creating a firm worth preserving §12.4, 124, 125

Facilitating succession §12.5, 125–127

Succession planning Chapter 12, 122–128

The nature of the continuing firm §12.6, 127, 128

support 115–121

Building a culture of consideration for the individual §11.3, 117, 118

Policies to foster a sense of support from the institution §11.4, 118, 119

Respecting the individual §11.6, 120, 121

support staff 105–110

Other essential support staff §9.3, 106–109

Strong administrative staff Chapter 9, 105–110

training 119, 120

A culture of training and mentoring §11.5, 119, 120

value 76, 79

Delivery of value to clients §5.5, 76

Forgoing work that doesn’t add value §5.9, 79

weak practice groups and offices 86

Supporting strong practice groups and offices; withdrawing support from weak ones §6.6, 86

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Introduction 4, 112

WilmerHale Introduction 4, 124, 137

withdrawal from partnership 135, 136

Managed withdrawal §13.5, 135, 136

withdrawing support from weak ones 86