#BakersDozen is a series of interviews with leading professionals in the fields of law, consulting, finance, tech, and more.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be in the legal business?

It was determined prenatally that I would either be a doctor—like three generations in my family—or a “good” lawyer. Otherwise, I would have been a Hollywood scriptwriter, something my older daughter will soon be doing.

What do you do for a living right now?


What has been your greatest triumph and your greatest success in the legal services field and what did you learn from each?

My greatest triumph was my greatest failure: co-Founding Clearspire. It was a bold experiment with a significant financial, intellectual, and time investment. It was an intellectual success and a financial failure. I learned a great deal about myself as a person and grew a lot from the experience.

And as a practicing lawyer, my greatest experience was as an Assistant US Attorney. I still remember the chill I had the first time I stated my appearance in federal court–“Assistant US Attorney Mark A. Cohen on behalf of the United States of America.”

Do you think the legal industry is headed in the right direction, the wrong direction – or which direction?

It’s certainly headed in a different direction, one where clients will have more and better options than simply retaining traditional law rms. Also, the access to justice crisis will be meaningfully addressed. So yes, it’s headed in the right direction. Of course, many lawyers might see it differently since they won’t be making the money they once did—though the exceptional ones will.

You’re known for innovation and have been an inspiration to many. Who inspires you – and why?

I’ve been inspired by many people from many walks of life. My late father had great foresight and vision, so that would be the first person that comes to mind.

What advice would you give to the younger generation contemplating law as a career?

Learn your craft and take a holistic view of law and its relation to other disciplines. Law is a means to an end, not an end to itself.

How deep do you think will be the inroads of technology in the industry?

They will be profound. Look at how technology has affected medicine, for example, as well as other professions and industries. Law is just behind presently.

Learn your craft and take a holistic view of law and its relation to other disciplines. Law is a means to an end, not an end to itself.

In ten years, do you see an industry much as it is – or do you see new players, new technology and an altered state?

Ten years from now people will look back at today and be amazed by how different the industry is—new players, new models, new technology, and new delivery structures. Lots of large law firms will be gone or absorbed by other service providers including legal tech companies.

Are consultants and lawyers looking increasingly similar? Should the distinction continue?

Formal legal training is a differentiator. That said, legal education must be revamped. That’s what I’m doing at Georgetown Law—designing and teaching “contemporarily relevant” skills like project management and new delivery structures.

What are your thoughts on the increasing availability of data to guide client-side procurement of legal services?

It’s invaluable so long as the data is relevant and material to the objective.

Lawyers have typically regulated to keep non-lawyer investors out but that’s a two- edged sword these days. What are your thoughts?

I’m all for ABS and think it should be adopted in the US as it has in other advanced markets around the world. It’s not de-regulation of the legal industry; it’s reregulation. Read the Clementi Report to understand why the UK adopted ABS.

What’s the one most significant factor that will drive change in your view?

Things will really change when clients have “safe,” scalable provider options. And they are already out there.

Are we seeing the demise of the “profession” and the real emergence of the “business” of law?

Law has been a business for a long time. But it benefitted lawyers more than clients. The profession is at a low ebb and changes will help restore its standing in society.

What do you consider is the greatest challenge facing the industry?

Lawyers who resist change and don’t understand client frustration.

What do you see as the greatest opportunity for the sector looking forward?

To make legal services more readily available to those that need it most.

Do you think law can improve its track record on diversity and inclusion? How?

It must. Agile working models will help.

Law has been a business for a long time. But it benefitted lawyers more than clients.

Will the current regulatory framework around law help or hinder it in the future?

I imagine that the US regulatory framework will change when clients insist upon it.

Who do you think are the greatest influencers on the industry these days?

Innovators. I wrote an article in Forbes about what lawyers can learn from Dollar Shave Club.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Or what would you do differently?

Become a Hollywood screenwriter. But my career has been interesting and has spawned some good stories.

If a law firm was a startup pitching for investors, would you be an investor?

Let me see their business plan. I’d say “no” if they had a traditional partnership model—that would be a non-starter.

Wildcard Questions

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

See above

What would you like to be known for?


What would surprise everyone if they knew (they may now).

I’m an artist trapped in a legal and business career.

What’s your favorite hobby or activity outside of law?

Hard to name one—contemporary art, music, gardening, and college football come to mind. Of course, my most favorite activity is spending time with my wife, kids, and good friends.

What’s your favorite sports team?

Michigan Wolverines

Whats your favorite city?


What’s your favorite food?


Whats your nickname – and why?

Big Mac. Some things have to be left to the imagination.

Mark Cohen has published over a hundred articles on legal delivery. He is a regular online contributor to Forbes where he writes a weekly column. His articles and commentary have also appeared frequently in Bloomberg Big Law Business, the ABA Journal, Law 360, and many other domestic and international media outlets. His work has a global following and has been featured in the ACC Docket, Stanford Law’s CodeX, The Canadian Bar Magazine, Legal Business World, and numerous other sources.

This interview reflects the opinions of the author, and not of their affiliated organizations or High Performance Counsel.