1.19.21: Council of Luminaries CLIENT-SIDE

The LVN Council of Luminaries is comprised of veteran thought leaders and pioneers in the business of law community. The objective behind assembling this group is to establish a brain trust of recognized, experienced and progressive leaders who can help interpret developments in the market, provide advice on how to successfully approach and navigate challenges, predict future trends and changes to prepare for, and to participate in targeted special projects to benefit the legal industry as a whole.


The below meeting was conducted primarily with the Council Of Luminaries CLIENT-SIDE group.


According to the Annual Law Department Operations Survey, only 6% of legal ops professionals said that COVID-19/Work From Home had a negative impact on their department’s ability to deliver work.


Luminary 1 - Why did we have so much success?


Luminary 2 – Even though we work in offices, we largely work in our own little realm. It’s not like the pandemic stopped us from having meetings or working on laptops, so people were able to adjust to WFH. The biggest impact was things like child care – having kids, etc, and the time constraints. I work from home a lot already. For me it wasn’t a large impact in terms of change and work life. I’d say that the way folks work is conducive to a WFH environment. People realize they can work from home.


Luminary 3 – We operate a lean staffing model anyway. I agree with Luminary 2. I was always running with my laptop on my hip from conference room to conference room – with people often dialing in anyway. We weren’t tethered to our desks in the first place, so it wasn’t that big of a change. We had to adjust to being home and stressed, etc., but the work itself hasn’t changed.


Data shows people working earlier and later as they often have to spend time during the day with kids. We are working harder, but the legal community is like that anyway. I don’t know how much longer it can go on.


Luminary 2 – A change is that you’re always available. It doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday, whether it’s a weekend, work hours used to be set a bit more. Now work hours don’t really exist. Folks send emails at 8 pm and expect a response by 8:30.


Luminary 4 – Those are just team norms that have to be developed. It’s the evolution of work.


Luminary 4 – I think if you take a broader look, the number is much higher than 6%. Not because of the in-house people, but the issues firms were having and the courts being closed, etc. Our field legal teams still have to push to get cases to resolution. They have to drive to closure.


Only 51% of survey respondents say their law firms are leveraging technology to their benefit.


Luminary 4 – In terms of law firms leveraging technology – it can seem small but some of these tools can be significant over many cases. For example, right now virtual depositions are common, and in-person is the exception. That was not the case previously, and we’d like to flip the script. I’m hoping that will be sticky. We need to endeavor to help the law firms help us. Many have done a good job, many have not and it will all come out in the wash.


Luminary 2 – How are in-house counsel reacting to virtual as the rule rather than the exception?


Luminary 4 – Old school litigators don’t love it. They prefer live confrontation. But we don’t really need to confront fact witnesses, etc. Plus, our field legal very top-down. Our counsel doesn’t have a lot of choices.


Luminary 3 – I agree. I remember people raising concerns internally at the beginning about gaps in firm coverage as they move virtual. We didn't experience any issues whatsoever. It’s been totally seamless.


Luminary 2 – Some want to be there to see and touch


Luminary 4 – There will be an explosion of virtual mediation, if the AAA and JAMS can make it a good experience. There is some value in putting them in the same room, locking them up and getting to a resolution. That can be difficult to replicate online. But there’s so much value in virtual. Hopefully, firms can embrace that.


What will happen to business travel?


Luminary 2 – Do we think business travel will decline? Have people realized they don’t always need to be there?


Luminary 4 – No question.


Luminary 2 – it will.


Luminary 1 – it will be cut without question. Travel budgets are already being cut.


Luminary 4 – I agree for sure. Also for some clients, we will tell the lawyers not to come.


Luminary 2 – From a law firm perspective, I might like that. I can meet with more people in one day.


Luminary 1 – Plus the people you want to visit are less likely to be there. What’s the point of traveling to a meeting if most of the participants are dialing in anyway?


Luminary 2 - The rise of the video call has been interesting. Now it’s all video. It’s a more personable thing than just a phone.


Luminary 4 – But people do get fatigued. We’ve set it as a cultural norm – if I don’t turn on my camera, you don’t have to turn on yours. It’s a different level of focus


Will we see virtual courtrooms?


Luminary 2 – For all the marketing I get from providers, I haven’t seen much from the third-party virtual deposition providers.


Luminary 4 – We have from our existing panel of court reporters. There’s also an extreme shortage of court reporters – eventually, real-time voice transcripts will be a thing. They are to prepare for a world where they can’t charge a margin on the court reporting. It’s a difficult transition.


Luminary 1 – One company I know helps courts manage appearances virtually. For 20 years they were trying to convince courts that virtual is ok. Now everyone sees that – and their struggle is convincing courts that just using Zoom is not enough.


Luminary 4 – One of the issues is that our courts are designed to be open to the public. Justice is administered out in the open. You want people to be able to observe proceedings, but how to do that in a virtual courtroom? Can anyone on the internet be able to observe my motion to quash? How will we provide access to the public for hotly contested, public issues - is going to be a big issue.


Potential future discussion topic


Luminary 4 - We are ramping up a new pricing group at our company. I’d be interested in how to teach really strong legal professions to be somewhat sophisticated pricing people to match pricing people on the law firm side.


Also, should there be some sort of certification for LDOs or pricing people?


We’d also like to see more joint meetings with the Law Firm Luminaries


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