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12.1.20: 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.

Productivity Metrics

Luminary 1 – Is anyone tracking costs of matter or activity in house?

Luminary 2 – We are getting close. The objective is to help us determine how to get the work done. If we need to use $300k of internal resources, is there a better way to get there? We can at least at this point look at a chart and see how much was for one business, how much was for another business, and get a picture.

Luminary 3 – How do you track time?

Luminary 2 – Actually tracking either throughout the day or like a guesstimate at the end of the week. We built a tool for it.

Luminary 3 – Have you used time capture tools that do it automatically, like Ping or SmartTime?

Luminary 2 – We looked at those but couldn’t get comfortable. What’s it tracking against? Outlook, Email, the docs you use? We weren’t comfortable we’d get the data we wanted. Litigation team has been matter-centric, but the others not so much. So, we wanted to build an approach and I’m not sure the tools that work in the background would have gotten us what we need. Also, they feel a little big brother-ish. No one here really loved the idea.

Luminary 1 – We are trying to take advantage of our AI tool does take into account time spent on contracts and then multiply that by our billing rate in house. We have alterative resources we can tap into. But if we are sending work there, what are our people doing with their excess capacity? I’m trying to prove what the cost is if we re-resource work.

ABA Diversity Pledge

Luminary 2 - We are looking to sign the ABA’s model diversity pledge. Has anyone signed? What does the data look like?

Luminary 4 – It used to be just PDF surveys, but now there is an intake portal to enter into a database. You can go in as a signatory and get Power BI reports. But what we haven’t done yet is build to scale; we want to bring in ABA data into our benchmarks. We already have a survey as part of our law firm diversity program, but they are slightly different questions.

Luminary 1 – Are you tracking through eBilling?

Luminary 4 - No, we are not that sophisticated

Luminary 1 – Is there a lot of commitment required to be a signatory?

Luminary 4 – No, only that you’ll consider the results as part of procurement.

Luminary 1 – We are tracking in our eBilling system, and that system also does a survey. So, it’s all in one system. We are going to launch all that in January. So, we were wondering if we should sign up for the ABA program, and we probably should because more corpus of data

Luminary 4 – Some are not allowing firms to do work if they don’t meet median benchmarks, and some incentivize them toward more diversity.

Luminary 5 – We’ve been looking from a slightly different angle. Not just retroactive reporting, but how to weaponize choices when we get a new matter. There is a company out there with a product (I can’t mention name yet), looking to do a customized interface where firms enter info about themselves, but we’d also want them to add filterable choices. So that when selecting upfront, you can see what the firms are actually doing. I will report more when I can.

Data from the new 2020 Blickstein Group Annual Law Department Operations Survey shows while more companies are tracking diversity metrics, few are incentivizing or penalizing their firms for their actions in this area.

Luminary 5 – No one is doing much in terms of financial incentives and penalties.

Luminary 1 – We believe in that but are still in the collection of data phase. It will likely be part of our incentives in a year.

Luminary 4 – We often get asked what if a firm doesn’t meet our targets. The answer is they don’t get a bonus but that may not be enough. Perhaps we need more action than that.

There is also a ton of buzz right now about origination credit. Maybe the survey should add a question next year about how we as clients can influence it. We’ve asked the question so we can understand how firms do it.

Luminary 6 – The reality is firms are only going to do as much as law departments require them to do. If we don’t drive internally, we won’t succeed.

Luminary 1 – Are we all fighting over the same group of people? I’m wondering what’s going to happen in the future if the firms haven’t been hiring diverse candidates, and the pool is staying stagnant. One law firm on a Luminaries call previously said that law departments may have to pay a premium for diversity. There was also a discussion about big clients getting discount rates and that negatively impacting the careers of diverse associates.

Luminary 4 – That argument did not land well. Because firms are not increasing their pipeline. We can find diverse candidates, why can’t they? Firms should be careful teeing up that discussion: If they only have 10 diverse associates in their whole class, that tells me something about how you’re going out and recruiting. It’s a very delicate conversation.

Multi-Year Tech Roadmap

Luminary 1 – We’d be in the planning phase. COVID-19 did create some more pressure. It’s interesting because reliance one tech requires more of a roadmap like this.

Luminary 4 – We have an internal team the stands up all the big platform builds. It’s that team’s job. We may have a plan because it’s always someone’s job.

Luminary 5 – We are also planning, but there’s a new function – Corporate Information System – which is designed to be a bridge. We’ve never had it before. More of a loose strategy and hoping the advent of the new function around it

Luminary 1 – Does that centralized group include legal specific platforms?

Luminary 4 – Yes and it helps the build or by decision.

Luminary 5 – Ours is that they ‘ll have input, but we’ll retain a high level of control.

Luminary 6 – We’ve just updated our five-year strategy, but it includes everything across all teams. We don’t have it detailed out by tech type, but we know our needs and what we have to go after.

Digital Transformation

Data from the survey also shows a that a large percentage of law departments are on a digital transformation journey, which has been accelerated by the pandemic.

Luminary 6 – How do we define “digital transformation?

Luminary 1 – The term is used so loosely. Is it different from automating?

Luminary 6 – I think of it as core it’s going paperless or automating processes. That’s what I think about. It’s one of our pillars as a company.

Luminary 3 – I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I think there are three or four pillars. The first one is the move to paperless so that everything is in digital format. The next two are integration/collaboration and automation. I’m not sure what order those are really in, or even if they should be separated. And the final one is better use of your data.

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