According to Above the Law, Morgan Lewis & Bockius will be offering voluntary buyout packages for all of its legal secretaries, across the country. The reason: “technology innovation” and “the practice needs of our lawyers.”
From the abstract for David B. Wilkins and Maria J. Esteban Ferrer, The Integration of Law into Global Business Solutions: The Rise, Transformation, and Potential Future of the Big Four Accountancy Networks in the Global Legal Services Market (2017):
Using a unique data set comprised of original research of both the corporate Web sites of the Big Four—PwC, Deloitte, KPMG, and EY—and their affiliated law firms, as well as archival material from the legal and accountancy press, this article documents the rise and transformation of the Big Four legal service lines since the enactment of the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002. Moreover, it demonstrates that there are good reasons to believe that these sophisticated players will be even more successful in penetrating the corporate legal services market in the decades to come, as that market increasingly matures in a direction that favors the integration of law into a wider category of business solutions that these globally integrated multidisciplinary practices now champion. We conclude with some preliminary observations about the implications of the reemergence of the Big Four legal networks for the legal profession.
At the ABA’s annual meeting in August the ABA adopted this AI resolution:
RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges courts and lawyers to address the emerging ethical and legal issues related to the usage of artificial intelligence (“AI”) in the practice of law including: (1) bias, explainability, and transparency of automated decisions made by AI; (2) ethical and beneficial usage of AI; and (3) controls and oversight of AI and the vendors that provide AI.
In this Digital Detectives podcast episode on Legal Talk Network, hosts Sharon Nelson and John Simek are joined by Fastcase CEO Ed Walters to discuss this resolution. Recommended.
End Note: It will be interesting to see if, and if so, how the ABA fulfills its promise regarding controlling and oversight of AI vendors.
An excerpt from the executive summary of Building the Data-Driven Law Firm, ed. by Alex Davies (Ark Group, May 2019):
Despite the huge amount of data in the average law firm, data-driven decision-making is relatively new and uncharted. With the knowledge that some 90 percent of data in the world today was created in the last two years, this needs to change.
Building the data-driven law firm looks at how the use of data has become inextricably linked with the practice of law; how it can be utilized to the good and the safeguards that must be put in place to mitigate the bad; how Big Data will revolutionize the way lawyers work, and the cases they will work on; and how new uses for data (including blockchain and the Internet of Things) will influence the law firm of the future.
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: The data-driven mindset – the culture and habits of data-centric organizations
By David Curle, Director, Enterprise Content – Technology and Innovation, Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute
Chapter 2: The richness – and bias – of legal data
By Thomas Hamilton, VP of strategy and operations at ROSS Intelligence
Chapter 3: How to use data to make your business better
By Holly Urban, CEO and co-founder, EffortlessLegal LLC
Chapter 4: Using machine learning and AI to improve legal practice and drive value to stakeholders and clients
By Aaron Crews, chief data analytics officer, Littler
Chapter 5: Unlocking contractual data
By Edward Chan, partner, Linklaters LLP
Chapter 6: Mining litigation data
By Josh Becker, founder, Lex Machina
Chapter 7: How data is transforming the relationship between lawyer and client
By Jennifer Roberts, manager, strategic research, InTapp
Chapter 8: Blockchain and the data-driven law firm
By Robert Millard, founder and partner, Cambridge Strategy Group
Chapter 9: Legal aspects of data
By Joanne Frears, solicitor, Lionshead Law
Chapter 10: How data will enable the shift towards the productization of legal services
By Simon Drane, managing director of earlsferry advisory, former executive director of business development at the Law Society and LexisNexis
For LexisNexis, the pressure in on to recapture solo and two-attorney firms. Competition is getting stiff. For example, over the last 9 months alone, Casetext reports that over 3,000 law firms have switched from LexisNexis and Westlaw to Casetext. LN’s response to the competition is to lower its pricing and make pricing more transparent in the small law market defined as solo and two attorney firms.
Go here to view LN’s offer of three plans: (1) a $55/month “state primary” plan; (2) a $115/month “state enhanced with full federal” plan and (3) a $138/month “national primary enhanced”. Due note all three plans require a three-year contract. In additions to the pricing quoted above, there appears to be a $25/month “administrative fee.”
This in not LN’s only campaign targeting “low cost” providers like Fastcase and Casemaker. Remember the 2017 “Low cost can cost you” marketing campaign? So far, I haven’t seen an LN press release about this latest attempt.
H/T Casetext’s post, LexisNexis’ New Pricing for Small Law Firms: How to Save Thousands Apr. 25, 2019.
If 2017 was a good year for law firms, 2018 was better. On the heels of a year considered to be the strongest for the Am Law 100 since the Great Recession, the nation’s top law firms took their performance a step further. On aggregate, revenue grew at a muscular 8 percent clip over the last year, hitting a record $98.7 billion. That’s well past the 5.5 percent growth rate from 2017, the previous high-water mark in the post-recession new normal. See this review article and here’s the link to the 2019 Am Law 100 (Available exclusively through Legal Compass).
From the blurb for John Oller, White Shoe: How a New Breed of Wall Street Lawyers Changed Big Business and the American Century (Dutton, March 19, 2019):
The fascinating true story of how a group of visionary attorneys helped make American business synonymous with Big Business, and Wall Street the center of the financial world
The legal profession once operated on a smaller scale—folksy lawyers arguing for fairness and justice before a judge and jury. But by the year 1900, a new type of lawyer was born, one who understood business as well as the law. Working hand in glove with their clients, over the next two decades these New York City “white shoe” lawyers devised and implemented legal strategies that would drive the business world throughout the twentieth century. These lawyers were architects of the monopolistic new corporations so despised by many, and acted as guardians who helped the kings of industry fend off government overreaching. Yet they also quietly steered their robber baron clients away from a “public be damned” attitude toward more enlightened corporate behavior during a period of progressive, turbulent change in America.
Author John Oller, himself a former Wall Street lawyer, gives us a richly-written glimpse of turn-of-the-century New York, from the grandeur of private mansions and elegant hotels and the city’s early skyscrapers and transportation systems, to the depths of its deplorable tenement housing conditions. Some of the biggest names of the era are featured, including business titans J. P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, lawyer-statesmen Elihu Root and Charles Evans Hughes, and presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson.
Among the colorful, high-powered lawyers vividly portrayed, White Shoe focuses on three: Paul Cravath, who guided his client George Westinghouse in his war against Thomas Edison and launched a new model of law firm management—the “Cravath system”; Frank Stetson, the “attorney general” for financier J. P. Morgan who fiercely defended against government lawsuits to break up Morgan’s business empires; and William Nelson Cromwell, the lawyer “who taught the robber barons how to rob,” and was best known for his instrumental role in creating the Panama Canal.
In White Shoe, the story of this small but influential band of Wall Street lawyers who created Big Business is fully told for the first time.
From the abstract for Michele Beardslee DeStefano, The Law Firm Chief Innovation Officer: Goals, Roles, and Holes (2018):
So many lawyers are sick of hearing that they must “innovate or die,” yet their clients call for innovation continues to be loud; and, although not clear, it is clearly resounding. Demand for innovation is old news; now, clients are going even further – requesting in pitch proposals (RFPs) that law firms demonstrate how they have innovated or how they will innovate or be innovative. Even those clients who do not use what might be better called ‘the i-word’ ask for it in other forms, including demanding cheaper, better, faster, services or asking for ‘collaboration’ within the firm, or with other competing law firms or legal services companies on projects and panels. Even more compelling evidence for the magnitude of this call? Clients who say they value innovation by their law firms and reward it or, worse yet, punish firms without it. General Counsels (GCs) have been consistent and clear: “If you don’t want to be an innovation partner with [them], then [they] are going to be inclined not to give you business.” In other words, collaboration towards innovation is no longer a higher standard – it is quickly becoming the standard requirement. True, as I have argued in my book Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation in Law, many clients have not been clear as to what they mean by innovation, nor have they quite figured out how to measure it. True, many law firms are unsure what they or their clients mean by innovation or what the ROI is on investing in innovation. But these – and other – ambiguities have not stopped law firms from answering their clients’ call by investing (in some way, shape or form) in innovation.
One way law firms are answering this call is by appointing, identifying or hiring someone in the role of what is sometimes called, the chief innovation officer (CINO), or some other title that signifies this person is the head of innovation. The very first time I heard of the role of CINO at a law firm was in April 2015. Inspired, I decided to investigate. Over the past couple years, I have interviewed more than 100 GCs, heads of innovation at law firms, and law firm partners to uncover what is meant by the hackneyed i-word in the law market, to understand lawyers’ views of innovation, and to explore the role of the CINO at law firms. One of the many questions I sought to answer was whether designating someone as the head of innovation at a law firm is an effective way to meet changing marketplace demands and satisfy clients’ expectations. This article explores that question along with others concerning the CINO role. It is divided into two parts. This part, Part 1, begins by overviewing the goals and roles of a law firm CINO as described to me by my interviewees. Part 2, to be published in January 2019, highlights the holes that I believe exist within and between the goals and the roles. It concludes by providing three recommendations to law firms to help mend the holes so that the roles are better leveraged and the goals are better met.
Abraham Cable has posted When Does Big Law Work? 102 Marquette Law Review Forthcoming 2019:
Law firms have grown from hundreds of lawyers to thousands of lawyers, and the conventional wisdom is that this trend fuels dissatisfaction among lawyers. This article scrutinizes that conventional wisdom based on interviews with lawyers who joined large firms through law-firm mergers. These lawyers offer a valuable perspective on firm size because they made abrupt changes from small to large firms. Though some interviewees echoed the conventional wisdom, others suggested that larger firm size has limited or even positive effects on professional satisfaction. In one counter-narrative, large law firms are relatively diffuse organizations that have limited influence over individual lawyers. In another counter-narrative, large law firms helpfully insulate lawyers from the business risks of smaller firms. I offer a framework to explain these varied experiences. The framework highlights the importance of: seniority, practice-area compatibility, local office attributes, and the manner and rate of firm growth. These new perspectives can inform future research and improve advice to law students and lawyers.
H/T to beSpacific
The Evolution of the Law Firm Library Function: Transformation and integration into the business of law (Ark Group, June 2018) seeks to provide law firm libraries with the most pertinent and practical intelligence about the current challenges they face and the most effective ways of negotiating them. — Joe
Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation in Law (Ankerwycke, 2018) by Michele Destefano “is for anyone invested in the future of the legal profession, be it someone tasked with transforming their practice, someone looking to approach their work in a new way, someone looking for a fresh approach to client relations, or someone new to the field interested in a forecast of the world to come.” — Joe
From the blurb for Rees Morrison’s Data Graphs for Legal Management: A Competitive Advantage for Decisions: “This book will benefit managing partners of law firms, practice group heads, and heads of functions such as marketing, finance, and technology. It covers more than 65 kinds of data that law firms could collect and shows how that data might be plotted, presenting more than 75 graphs. It explores effective plotting techniques, introduces open source R, and delves into related topics on data management, programming, and strategic choices.”
H/T to Pinhawk’s Legal Administrator Daily post. — Joe
In April, LLB reported on a client that fired a law firm that was representing Trump. See BigLaw firm fired for “enabling Trump” by representing him. Now, ATL’s Kathryn Rubio is reporting that “Brendan Sullivan of Williams & Connolly, Ted Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Paul Clement and Mark Filip of Kirkland & Ellis, and Robert Giuffra of Sullivan & Cromwell are all on the list of those who just said no to [representing] Trump.” — Joe
Numerous sources, including Reuters and the Washington Post, are reporting that President Trump has retained trusted longtime counsel Marc Kasowitz to help with the Russia probe despite Kasowitz having no substantial criminal law experience. So who is he?
According to his profile on the Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP website, Kasowitz has been “[d]escribed by CNBC as the ‘toughest lawyer on Wall Street’ and by Bloomberg Financial News as an ‘uberlitigator.'” From the profile:
Marc regularly serves as national trial counsel in complex litigation in the areas of bank finance, fraudulent conveyance, RICO, corporate governance, antitrust, securities, mass tort, product liability, environmental, breach of contract, and other commercial cases. Marc also has an extensive and successful track record in dealing with investigations and lawsuits by state attorneys general, including path-breaking settlements of tobacco litigation. Marc has also conducted numerous internal investigations on behalf of boards of directors, management and special committees regarding alleged corporate misfeasance, conflicts of interest, challenges to board authority, insider trading, accounting fraud, market timing, obstruction of justice, market manipulation, and other issues relating to director and officer fiduciary responsibilities and liabilities.
In Marc E. Kasowitz: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know, we learn
- He Has Represented Donald Trump For Over 15 Years
- He Wrote a Letter Demanding The New York Times Retract Its Story About Donald Trump’s Alleged Groping Incidents
- Another One of His Clients Is the Largest Bank in Russia
- His Former Partner Is Now the U.S. Ambassador to Israel
- He Has Compared the O’Reilly Scandal to McCarthyism
Regarding the O’Reilly scandal, the article notes that Kasowitz represented Bill O’Reilly during the Fox News host’s legal trouble surrounding alleged sexual harassment in the workplace. See also, ATL’s What’s Going On At Kasowitz Benson? — Joe
“The laws of supply and demand have finally caught up with the modern U.S. legal profession, yet the lawyers that preside over the decaying hierarchy – law professors, BigLaw partners, bar associations, and state and federal judges – are substantially in denial. Why? Because the old order has been too good for too long, blinding its beneficiaries to the core ideals that make a life in the law worth living. But there is good news—those now entering the legal industry will have an opportunity to return to those ideals, albeit this renaissance is borne more out of necessity rather virtue. … This is the core storyline of Ben Barton’s thoughtful and comprehensive new book, [Glass Half Full: The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession (Oxford UP, 2015)]” writes William Henderson in Law and Politics Book Review.
From the book’s blurb:
It would be easy to look at these enormous challenges and see only a bleak future, but Ben Barton instead sees cause for optimism. Taking the long view, from the legal Wild West of the mid-nineteenth century to the post-lawyer bubble society of the future, he offers a close analysis of the legal market to predict how lawyerly creativity and entrepreneurialism can save the profession. In every seemingly negative development, there is an upside. The trend towards depressed wages and computerized legal work is good for middle class consumers who have not been able to afford a lawyer for years. The surfeit of law school students will correct itself as the law becomes a less attractive and lucrative profession. As Big Law shrinks, so will the pernicious influence of billable hours, which incentivize lawyers to spend as long as possible on every task, rather than seeking efficiency and economy. Lawyers will devote their time to work that is much more challenging and meaningful. None of this will happen without serious upheaval, but all of it will ultimately restore the health of the faltering profession. … A unique contribution to our understanding of the legal crisis, the unconventional wisdom of Glass Half Full gives cause for hope in what appears to be a hopeless situation.
Recommended. — Joe
The title of this post is one of the main conclusions Dana Remus and Frank Levy reach in Can Robots Be Lawyers? Computers, Lawyers, and the Practice of Law. Here’s the abstract:
We assess frequently-advanced arguments that automation will soon replace much of the work currently performed by lawyers. Our assessment addresses three core weaknesses in the existing literature: (i) a failure to engage with technical details to appreciate the capacities and limits of existing and emerging software; (ii) an absence of data on how lawyers divide their time among various tasks, only some of which can be automated; and (iii) inadequate consideration of whether algorithmic performance of a task conforms to the values, ideals and challenges of the legal profession.
Combining a detailed technical analysis with a unique data set on time allocation in large law firms, we estimate that automation has an impact on the demand for lawyers’ time that while measureable, is far less significant than popular accounts suggest. We then argue that the existing literature’s narrow focus on employment effects should be broadened to include the many ways in which computers are changing (as opposed to replacing) the work of lawyers. We show that the relevant evaluative and normative inquiries must begin with the ways in which computers perform various lawyering tasks differently than humans. These differences inform the desirability of automating various aspects of legal practice, while also shedding light on the core values of legal professionalism.
Recommended. H/T to Jeffrey Brandt’s Growing AI Redux post. — Joe
The New York Times is reporting that Whittier Law School is planning to shut its doors. The school has not set a date but announced that it will not admit 1Ls this fall. Whittier is the first fully accredited school to announce plans to close. For more, see Elizabeth Olson’s DealBook post. See also Whittier Law School may close, as trustees announce no new students (National Jurist) which notes that Whittier’s enrollment has dropped from 700 in 2010 to less than 450. During the same time period, its median LSAT has dropped from 152 to 146. Its bar passage rate has dropped to 38.1 percent for the class of 2015, the most recent data available. It was as high as 69 percent in 2012. Inside Higher Ed reports that some law school faculty members have sued to block the school from closing. The faculty members claim that Whittier College is seeking to profit from a sale of the land on which the law school is located. Here’s their TRO brief. — Joe
In what may be a first, blow back in the form a scathing “you’re fired” letter to a BigLaw firm by an investment firm for the firm performing work for the Trump family business and the president’s legal duties and ethical obligations has resulted in the firing of the law firm. Here’s the letter from H. Scott Wallace of Wallace Global Fund to its former counsel Morgan Lewis. Pay particular attention to the “Already, the ethical carnage has begin” section of the letter.
The last paragraph before the former client signed off says it all: “Americans deserve a President of undivided loyalty. Your firm has denied them that. We cannot be complicit.”
What was some of the work Morgan Lewis performed for Trump? See Morgan Lewis Joins Trump’s Reich, Shills For Toothless Interpretation Of Emoluments Clause. — Joe
I hope not. See BNA’s Scott Mozarsky (President of Bloomberg Law and Bloomberg BNA’s Legal Division) ATL post, Large Law’s Not-So-Secret Weapon In Marketing And BD: The Library. (Observing that he only knows of four of the 50 largest firms where the law library reports to the chief marketing officer.) See also Greg Lambert’s response to Mozarsky’s post at Who Leads the Law Library? How About Law Librarians? — Joe
Lexis, Westlaw, and Fastcase are in a virtual tie in the small law market according to a recent survey conducted by the law practice management firm Clio. The results of the survey revealed the following small law market shares:
- Westlaw, 20.58 percent
- Fastcase, 20.35 percent
- LexisNexis, 20.21 percent
See the below pie chart and table for details.
Hat tip to Bob Ambrogi’ LawSites post. — Joe