Second Annual Law Firm Financial Forum: Exploring the Details

Topics: Business Development & Marketing Blog Posts, Data Analytics, Harvard Law School, Law Firm Financial Performance Forum, Law Firm Profitability, Law Firms, Leadership, Legal Innovation, Peer Monitor, Stanford Law School

midsize law firm

This Friday in New York we are going to “get down to cases,” literally, on the specifics of implementing changes I have written about over the last year. At the Second Annual Law Firm Financial Forum, in a highly interactive format, we will explore, among other issues:

  • How best to measure a law firm’s financial progress.
  • How to implement meaningful profitability measurement programs.
  • How to move law firms to new and better business and service models.

And we will culminate the day by examining a case study that will present all these issues, giving all participants an opportunity to apply their views and experience to a specific set of facts.

Better Metrics

The market demands greater efficiency and productivity from law firms. Clients are changing how and from whom they purchase legal service. The Forum will begin by exploring the best ways to measure how these dynamics are playing out and how law firms are advancing to deal with them.


The market demands greater efficiency and productivity from law firms. Clients are changing how and from whom they purchase legal service.


The session will include a new report, prepared specially for the Forum by Peer Monitor, that takes a new look at the legal service market, the changing market shares, and the key issues that reveal where the market and individual firms are going.

We will then have a pragmatic and free-wheeling conversation among some of the most experienced and thoughtful observers on the legal service market place: Aric Press, Dan DiPietro, Bill Henderson, and Sandy Thomas. They will get down to specifics about how we can really measure what needs to be measured in the world ahead.

Profitability Analysis

Next, the Forum will examine one of the most central financial issues: profitability measurement.

As I have written recently law firms are increasingly moving to tools that permit them to see the true economic details of engagements, practice groups, and other elements of the firm.

Moving to profitability analysis requires law firms to make sensitive decisions, such as how to allocate expense and revenue, to lead partners and associates to embrace the new methods, and, most importantly, to apply the learning from the analysis to make changes that achieve greater efficiency and productivity.

In this session, a panel of law firm leaders who are presently addressing these issues (Sandy Thomas, Global Managing Partner of Reed Smith; Ted Tinson, COO of Sheppard Mullin; and Feaz Rahim, CFO of McCarthy Tétrault) will share their experiences in a concrete and candid way: What are the challenges? How are they navigating them? What choices are they making?

New Models

Next, the Forum will explore law firm service and business models. It is axiomatic that the models developed for different times, must be updated for the new marketplace. Bruce MacEwen and I wrote a series of posts on this subject recently.


It is axiomatic that the models developed for different times, must be updated for the new marketplace.


Georgetown Law Professor Jonathan Molot, author of a provocative article proposing a new model for law firms, will lead this session. He will be joined by leaders of two other law firms, Bartlit Beck and Chapman & Cutler, which have successfully changed their models, Bill Henderson, who has studied and written on the likely law firm model of the future, and Ron Dolin, of the Harvard Law School, who is leading a ground-breaking study of quality metrics. The panel will explore concretely what elements of the traditional model need to give way and what alternatives might work better.

Following the panel, Margaret Hagan, a Fellow at Stanford Law’s Center on the Legal Profession and a lecturer at Stanford Institute of Design (the d.school), will lead a discussion of how law firms can work through the process of conceiving and implementing model change.

The Case Study

The final session of the day will bring it all together, and really get down to hard facts and keen interaction. All participants will consider the case of a law firm that is feeling pressures from the changes in the marketplace and that seeks to modify its model to ensure a brighter future for all of its stakeholders. The case is based on the actual facts of AmLaw firms in recent years and will provide a realistic exercise for all participants to convert ideas to action.

Throughout the Forum, participants, who themselves are dealing with these issues, will participate actively.

We will publish the findings this exercise at the Forum on the Legal Executive Institute web site.