At High Performance Counsel, we pride ourselves on asking the right questions – which are typically also the tough questions. So any of these four questions taken from our infamous #BakersDozen interview is arguably an essay in its own right.

These are broad-reaching considerations that go deep into the heart of the present legal arena and speak to the shape and substance of the legal industry that is surely emerging. Most would accept that some change is already evident and that more can be expected – but just how much and what form(s) will it take? How fast can this be expected to occur? Importantly, what does the future hold for new and younger generations – and how might that reflect in the advice we offer.

So it is that our new #BakersBest 4X4 Series brings together the thoughts and insights of top thought-leaders and practitioners in the space – a coming together around the same questions in a sharing of timely perspective.

We hope you enjoy this.

  • DO YOU THINK THE LEGAL INDUSTRY IS HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, THE WRONG DIRECTION – OR WHICH DIRECTION?
  • HOW DEEP DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE INROADS OF TECHNOLOGY IN THE INDUSTRY?
  • WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION CONTEMPLATING LAW AS A CAREER?
  • WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE FACING THE INDUSTRY?
Mary Mack

#4

DO YOU THINK THE LEGAL INDUSTRY IS HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, THE WRONG DIRECTION – OR WHICH DIRECTION?

The legal industry, that is, the revenue generating engines in legal, are still headed in the wrong direction. There are too many engines chasing the higher dollar clients, and too few engines chasing the majority of the world’s citizens to solve their legal problems.  The green shoots of legal collaboration rather than always being adversarial and the early adopters on tech are promising.

#7

HOW DEEP DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE INROADS OF TECHNOLOGY IN THE INDUSTRY?

Very deep.  Once statutes, regulations and case law can be understood by AI, and decision trees and document assembly get democratized, the white collar, high dollar legal careers will change and morph dramatically.

#14

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION CONTEMPLATING LAW AS A CAREER?

Northwestern stopped sending prospective students to me in the 90’s because I would ask them if their dream had the necessary pre-condition of having a law degree before taking the time, and the debt to go to law school. Traditional legal practice is not for the faint of heart.  I suggested they work in legal before going to law school, and to look closely at the economics.  I would have given my eyeteeth for the new programs with Bill Henderson and others at Northwestern—so my answer now is to find a law school that gets it.

#6

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE FACING THE INDUSTRY?

The visceral hatred for elites and professionals addressing a legal community that looks quite wealthy, and looks like it is stacking the deck in its favor.

Jennifer Silverman

#4

DO YOU THINK THE LEGAL INDUSTRY IS HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, THE WRONG DIRECTION – OR WHICH DIRECTION?

I am optimistic that the changes underway in the legal industry will ultimately benefit both clients and attorneys.

#7

HOW DEEP DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE INROADS OF TECHNOLOGY IN THE INDUSTRY?

There is potential for technology to completely change how legal services are delivered.  However, software will never replace human attorneys completely.  Clients will always want and need the insight of and personal relationships with attorneys to help them achieve their business goals.

#14

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION CONTEMPLATING LAW AS A CAREER?

Unfortunately, many people find that they are unhappy practicing law, so I would advise them to carefully evaluate whether law is a good match for their personality and life goals.  If they decide to go for it, I would recommend that they not neglect their personal relationships and interests, which will provide balance in their lives.

#6

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE FACING THE INDUSTRY?

I think it is difficult for law firms to balance their clients’ need to control legal spending with the challenges of providing high-quality legal services.

Debbie Reynolds

#4

DO YOU THINK THE LEGAL INDUSTRY IS HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, THE WRONG DIRECTION – OR WHICH DIRECTION?

The legal industry continues to be very conservative and slow to adopt new technologies and new business models.  For example, when predictive coding technologies began to emerge in the mid-2000’s, many law firms waited until the 2012 Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Groupe & MSL Group, (11-CV-1279) case ruling by Judge Andrew Peck, before they felt truly comfortable about endorsing and adopting the use of this technology.  Still, in 2018, there are many firms who will not use predictive coding technologies on their cases because they don’t trust it or don’t understand it.  Our firm, Eimer Stahl, was one of the first law firms in the country, many years before DaSilva Moore, to understand the benefits of predictive coding immediately and fully embrace this technology, so I am very fortunate to be at a firm with trailblazing lawyers who are progressive in their adoption of legal technology.  Also, another example of the legal industry being slow to adapt to change is playing out now with the idea of allowing non-attorneys to have ownership stakes in law firms. In the modern age it takes many types of talents to run successful businesses, not only attorneys.  If the U.S. begins to contemplate these types of rule changes, as we are now seeing in the UK, the legal industry could turn into an unstoppable force in terms of its ability to innovate more rapidly and create new business models to service clients.

#7

HOW DEEP DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE INROADS OF TECHNOLOGY IN THE INDUSTRY?

The inroads in technology today seem to be driven to better adoption if people are able to experience these technologies outside of the legal space.  For example, it was difficult a few years ago to have firms embrace the Cloud because they thought it was less secure than on-premise data solutions.  However, with many people using the Cloud at home, like backing up their photos on Apple’s iCloud or using Google Drive to store personal documents, these experiences provide more comfort by making emerging technologies less foreign when applied to their work in the legal world.

#14

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION CONTEMPLATING LAW AS A CAREER?

My advice to the younger generations who are contemplating law as a career is to learn as much as you can about technology and be nimble enough to seize the opportunities that come your way.  Also, don’t be content to follow someone else’s path when you can create your own path.  If the law is what you enjoy, there are many ways to be involved in a legal career, so don’t limit yourselves.

#6

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE FACING THE INDUSTRY?

The greatest triumph in my career has been to turn my interest in data into a career, out of thin air.  My interest in data is in how it moves and flows so, for me, eDiscovery and Data Privacy are just different types of data flows.  It has always been fascinating to me that technology allows us to do most anything with data but laws and our ability as humans to make decisions about data is often the only thing preventing data flows that may present problems with regulations and privacy.  Seeing my interest in data turn into a career has taught me that we have no idea how our skills can be applied in the future.  If you are good at something, keep doing it, because it may open doors that you never imagined.  My greatest success in the legal services industry has been creating the document review operation business for Orrick in Wheeling WV.  A mentor recruited me to Orrick to build legal services business solutions.  As the Manager of Special Projects at Orrick, I was charged with creating and incubating a document review business for the firm.  It was very tough and everyone said it could not be done, but in one year we went from zero attorneys in the Ohio Valley to over 100 attorneys. Today, Orrick’s Global Operations Center (GOC) is still thriving and is often cited as one of the first in-sourcing businesses related to managing document reviews inside of law firms.  From this experience, I learned that thinking outside of the box can yield extraordinary results.

Rashda Rana SC

#4

DO YOU THINK THE LEGAL INDUSTRY IS HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, THE WRONG DIRECTION – OR WHICH DIRECTION?

There are so many areas which need ‘fixing’ in the legal profession. One that is dear to my heart is equality of opportunity and equality of treatment for female lawyers. I think the whole society will benefit if we can get this right, industry by industry, starting, at least with the legal profession.

#7

HOW DEEP DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE INROADS OF TECHNOLOGY IN THE INDUSTRY?

Technology will impact the legal profession in a significant way. Technology is another revolution that lawyers are struggling with right now. Many lawyers, for instance, are still wedded to paper when the rest of the world has moved into an advanced digital arena. Courts are beginning to introduce the paperless trial and lawyers are being pushed to adapt.

#14

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION CONTEMPLATING LAW AS A CAREER?

Remember, a career in the law is not a sprint, but rather is a marathon. Take your time to do it right and always to act ethically. Persevere, persevere, persevere.

#6

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE FACING THE INDUSTRY?

Getting its act together and not getting lost in the proper understanding and realization of its basic purpose. The business model means that hourly and daily charge out rates are getting out of control and lawyers are looking only to the bottom line (chargeable hours) rather than ‘service’. The purpose of a law firm’s existence can be blurred by greed.