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Is 2017 the Year of LPM Adoption?

by Larry Bridgesmith JD, CEO of Legal Alignment

The pundits, academics, futurists and traditionalists all seem to agree for a change. When no less than the ABA convenes these various voices and a singular message emerges, something must be happening to our staid profession. And they say that 2017 is the year.

Just before the end of the year, the ABA posted an interview by Ari Kaplan with seven legal luminaries from across the spectrum of our industry about the future of law in 2017. They are:

Laura Broomell, COO of Greene Espel, and president of the Association of Legal Administrators

Ray English, assistant dean for the Office of Career and Employment Services at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University

Jordan Furlong, principal, Law21

Tony Gomes, senior vice president, general counsel and chief legal compliance officer at Citrix Systems.

Bill Henderson, professor of Law, Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Kate Holmes, managing director, FTI Technology

Joshua Rothman, partner, Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto

A more diverse assortment of legal industry insiders would be difficult to imagine.

The narrative summary of the Reinventing Professionals interviews is here. The full recording of the interviews is here.

The amazing unanimity with which these voices spoke is a marvel on its own. Phrases like:

"What you’ve been doing in the past is not going to work very well in the future." Jordan Furlong

"So if you are a hardworking person who is open-minded and learning new technologies that have a customer focus, there is an organization for you. But it may be just a different organization than you are at now." Bill Henderson

"(G)iving legal professionals a new opportunity to be at the table for discussions that they may not been involved with before."

Kate Holmes

"This is a time of massive disruption because of rapid advances in technology." Tony Gomes

"There is an opportunity for law firms to differentiate themselves through the creativity they offer." Josh Rothman

"More than anything, build a collaborative relationship with your managing partner and management team." Laura Broomell

"(Career services professionals must educate themselves on) what kind of technology they need to look into and what kind of training the school needs to provide because students don’t know, and they don’t know what they don’t know, and it’s up to us as career service professionals to be able to advise them." Ray English

These are not the cries of "Chicken Littles", but highly credible and experienced legal professionals. This is not their first rodeo.

Of course there are those who do not believe disruptive change is imminent. E.g. see Ron Friedmann's What Will be Hot in 2017?

However, the ABA interviews represent a radical departure from typical "maintain the status quo" mentality and the unanimity of "alarm" is unparalleled.

A Forbes piece authored by Mark Cohen on December 30, 2016 rings the alarm bells even louder. Automated And Agile: The New Paradigm For Legal Service, makes the case that law firms are losing market share to the Axiom and United Lex legal service providers that can do law "better, faster and cheaper" than law firms, and at greater profitability. Technology, client centered thinking, legal project management, disaggregation and significantly less overhead are not simply chipping away at the traditional law firm service model, but eroding its foundations.

Mark concludes with an ominous observation:

"Well capitalized, tech and process savvy service providers with domain expertise and agile, client-centric models will continue to expand their market imprint. Law firms—not service providers—may soon be the legal vertical’s ‘alternative providers.’"

Whether viewed by in house counsel, academics, technology providers, NewLaw service providers or outside lawyers, 2017 is shaping up to be a dynamic like nothing experienced before in legal services.

At Vanderbilt we want to help legal professionals in all disciplines prepare for this disruption through executive education such as the first in our series of courses for the Business of Law certificate. Join us in February at Vanderbilt Law School and Owen Graduate School of Business and be introduced to Legal Project Management(LPM). Return later for courses such as Innovation in Law, Human Centered Design in Law and Leadership in Law.

These two day workshops are designed to provide Continuing Legal Education and a foundation in methodologies essential for the changing face of law.

There is still limited room for a few more to join us for the LPM course. Register now to save your seat and begin the journey to become an innovator changing law rather than one who attempts to resist the inevitable path water takes to the bottom of the hill.

2017 is here. Let's make it a rousing success in legal services.

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