Probably not, but we’ll see.  A surprising conversation with digital transformation expert Isabel Parker


It’s already been quite a year for law firm innovation.  Just last month, Norton Rose Fulbright launched LX Studio, a new “innovation-focused” subsidiary, and Wilson Sonsini unveiled Neuron, a proprietary SaaS platform for start-ups.  Exciting propositions, but the development that had the NewLaw cognoscenti scratching their heads was ‘white shoe’ firm Cleary Gottlieb launching of ClearyX, which the firm describes as a “platform for highly efficient, AI and data-driven legal services.”

What’s driving these unveilings? And, are these new platforms worthwhile?
Continue Reading Q: The first “White Shoe” law firm launched an innovation subsidiary. Does that matter? (315)

The main residence of Veraton, Paul Cravath’s country estate, circa 1907. Source: “Veraton,” Old Long Island, Oct. 31, 2011.

Creating a baseline to measure the wealth, and building turmoil, of the current Gilded Age.


It is hard to imagine a more stark and tangible manifestation of the original Gilded Age than the large estates built along the Long Island Sound in the region that would later become known as the Gold Coast.  Yet, you may be surprised that such opulence was not limited to robber barons or captains of industry.  In fact, some of the very best real estate was owned by their lawyers.

Above is a photo of the main residence of Paul Cravath’s Veraton estate, which was built in 1905.  Shortly after completion, the lavish property was profiled in Town & Country magazine, which noted that Veraton “consists of over 600 acres of lawn, gardens, woodland, farmlands and paddocks. … The residence and outlying buildings are so placed that every advantage of beauty and utility has been obtained.”  See “One of Long Island’s Stateliest Homes,” Town & Country (Nov. 30, 1907) at 12.
Continue Reading The original Gilded Age lawyers (312)


Even in the US, the neat line between law firms and ALSP is starting to blur.  Nonetheless, the opportunities are only growing.


This post shares some of the most frequently asked questions I receive as a law firm consultant with expertise in ALSPs.  I am sharing this information because I believe that if more people understand how to leverage and/or mimic the most effective aspects of ALSPs, the adoption of ALSPs and new business models will accelerate.

What is an Alternative Legal Service Provider (ALSP)?

“ALSP” is an umbrella term used to describe a wide variety of businesses in the legal industry that are not law firms, but which provide legal or related support services. ALSPs usually leverage low-cost labor, technology, and efficient processes to perform certain types of work more quickly and less expensively than many law firms can perform it.
Continue Reading Your most common questions about ALSPs (307)


The perceived pluses are numerous and easy to spot. In contrast, the risks are more subtle and potentially fatal.


Interestingly, there is a pronounced trend toward firms adopting a shared leadership model, with perhaps the most recent example being the elite litigation firm of Quinn Emanuel.  See Karen Sloan, “Litigation giant Quinn Emanuel beefs up leadership, elevating DC, NY partners,” Reuters, May 13, 2022 (noting that 900+ lawyer firm “has shaken up its leadership model, installing two prominent litigators as co-managing partners and shifting namesake Los Angeles-based founder John Quinn from sole managing partner to the newly created role of chairman”).

If your firm has potential office, group (e.g. “our Global Litigation Practice”), or firm leadership candidates who would be great in the role but are reluctant to give up any of their client responsibilities, the notion of having co-leaders may be an attractive alternative.

Some will advance a number of highly rational arguments for having two co-leaders:
Continue Reading Sharing law firm leadership: NOT for the faint of heart (305)


When data drives growth, that’s a Hollywood ending. So where are the Moneyball sequels?


The graphic above tracks demographic representation across 12 law firms working for BASF Corporation, 2016 to 2021. On average, shares of BASF work grew +11% for diverse ethnicity partners and +46% for associates. For women, shares grew +24% for partners and +28% for associates. Additionally (not pictured), ethnicity and gender representation in firmwide leadership grew +10%.

What explains this blockbuster growth? To me, it’s the courageous leaders using data to achieve a shared mission.
Continue Reading Leading courageously with data (302)


Maybe the ROI for legal tech comes from happier workers who stay.


Emily Chang: What do startups have to do in order to have a successful exit, whether it is an IPO or just building a great business?

Paul Graham: They have to make something that actually makes people’s lives better. It’s funny how straightforward it is.

Y Combinator’s Graham Says Startups Must Improve Lives,”  YouTube, June 17, 2011.

Here is my prediction: companies are about to spend more on legal technology, but not because they are trying to save money or be more efficient. Law firms and, to a lesser extent legal departments, are beginning to see investment in technology as a solution to unprecedented burnout and talent attrition. The further entrenchment of remote work will only amplify this trend. Smart marketers have figured out that this messaging is resonating. The deluge of messaging connecting tech and talent will shift how companies justify their return on investment. Technology does, in fact, have the potential to improve the day-to-day experience of the people on legal teams, but there is some important nuance. Let’s dive in.
Continue Reading People-driven tech: How new priorities and remote work are increasing #legaltech adoption (299)


Clients too often ignore law firm incentives and market power.  They also substitute management for leadership.


Editor’s note:  This post returns to a subject first addressed here in Posts 029, 030, 031: successful law firm convergence and the management of law firm panels.  In this article, Dan looks back over AdvanceLaw’s work in the intervening five years and identifies four of the most common and consequential flaws in corporate law firm panels.  What follows draws on input from the staff of AdvanceLaw, where Dan is a Managing Director.

Why law firm panels matter

Law firm panels are a primary client strategy for controlling legal spend, but they also help stimulate innovation.   Innovation matters because panels wouldn’t be worth the effort if they didn’t produce better performance, which requires changes in how things get done.  Yet as Legal Evolution has documented in its posts on diffusion theory (tip: start with Post 001 and read chronologically),  many forces resist innovation in legal services, and those forces can only be overcome by sustained change management efforts from both law firms and clients.  Neither firms nor clients will commit to this effort if their relationship is temporary or poorly defined, so structured approaches like law firm panels are necessary to create the conditions under which innovation is at least possible.
Continue Reading The four fatal flaws of law firm panels (297)

Photo by micheile dot com on Unsplash

Success as a lawyer can come at the expense of personal relationships. Is it worth the price?


Few of my former partners in the global firm where I worked would understand my transition from a profits-first managing partner to a speaker and commentator on lawyer well-being.  How could this have happened?  Have I gone soft?  Quite the contrary—I remain on my mission to live a good life.

Before offering my views on law practice and lawyer careers, it’s useful for me to state my background upfront so that readers know my biases. For about three decades, I was a partner in a global law firm, practicing in a wide variety of business areas (frankly, wherever the clients led me).  For the last 15 years of that run, I was the full-time managing partner with firm-wide responsibility for the day-to-day business of the firm.  At the end of my third term as a managing partner (at age 62), I looked for another career and began teaching at a large university’s law school, where I started a legal clinic for startup and early-stage businesses.
Continue Reading Being #1 isn’t always a good thing—loneliness among lawyers (296)

Congrats,  associates!  Don’t spend it all in one place.

Cravath & Davis Polk associates are raking it in, and everyone’s got an opinion.  Here’s some data to explain how & why the new associate pay scale is a rational move in a functioning market.


Earlier this week, Cravath made waves at every trade media outlet with their 2022 salary scale:

Cravath’s announcement came on the heels of Milbank and Davis Polk each raising the stakes in the ongoing war for associate talent.  (See “Milbank Ups Associate Salaries to $215,000 in War for Talent (2),” Bloomberg Law, January 20, 2022, and “Davis Polk ups senior associate salaries in latest round of pay war,” Reuters, February 22, 2022.).  Before the close of the week, a flurry of memos followed, with a predictable roster of prestige firms matching the new top-of-market scale: Davis Polk, Paul Weiss, Kirkland, Latham, Simpson Thacher, Quinn, Skadden, Debevoise, Ropes, Shearman, Covington, White & Case, Sidley, Paul Hastings, McDermott, Boies Schiller, among others.  (See “Salary Wars Scorecard: Firms That Have Announced Raises (2022),” Above the Law, updated March 4, 2022).

Notably, Milbank has yet to respond to despite racing to first mover position in 2018 and again this year.  Also notably, Morgan Lewis is prudently sitting out the betting rounds, with a promise to monitor and match the prevailing scale once set.
Continue Reading #BadData, Part II: As the War for Talent Rages On, Let the Sorting Begin (290)

[click on to enlarge]

The legal profession appears to be on autopilot.


This post is for legal market analysts who are looking for updated and reliable data on the current legal services market. Collectively, its eight graphics reveal several themes that ought to give us pause, as we (the legal profession) may not have unlimited runaway to focus on strategies related to income and profit.

Most of the underlying data come from the Economic Census, which is a detailed ongoing survey of US businesses conducted every five years (years ending in 2 and 7) by the US Census Bureau.  Because of the size and scope of the data collection effort (it’s a census, not a sampling), it takes the full five-year cycle to complete the analysis and release the findings. The final—and in my view, the most interesting—installments were published last fall.
Continue Reading Eight updated graphics on the US legal services market (285)