We asked Cassie Vertovec, the Managing Director of Practice Management and Innovation at Paul Hastings LLP to tell us about her career path, what she loves most about that she does, her thoughts on the biggest challenges facing law firms today and why she finds her LVN membership valuable.
Tell us how you got into your field.
Going back as far as I can remember, I wanted to be a lawyer. Everyone I met thought I would be a lawyer, so it seemed like it was meant to be. I went to college and started studying business and psychology, which turned out to be a great combination. I got a job at an AmLaw 100 law firm the summer after my freshman year, and the rest is history! I spent all college breaks working on the administrative side of the firm and really enjoyed learning about the business of law. I spent a couple of years working in finance post-graduation, but have working in business management for AmLaw 100 law firms ever since.
What do you love most about what you do?
Practice management in big law has evolved greatly over the past 15 years and continues to do so. No two firms do it exactly the same way and thus no two days are alike. I love the variety and pace of the work and the excitement of finding new projects (because there are always more!). I also love working alongside some of the finest lawyers in the world to operationalize their business strategy. There is so much that law firms can do to operate more like the companies they support, and I’m happy to be driving and participating in those efforts.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing law firms today in terms of their relationship with outside counsel and the major changes in the legal industry?
Frankly, one of the biggest challenges that we are facing is the same problem the entire world is facing: uncertainty.
We’re in the midst of a global pandemic, and if that wasn’t enough, we are also facing major economic and political changes with widespread implications. People are fatigued generally, and everyone is tired of the uncertainty.
I think that law firms will need to be closer than ever to their clients, partnering with them to understand the implications of political, social, economic, technological and other changes to their industry and helping them to solve the business problems keeping them up at night. Companies are going to value those business partnerships, as they will be rooted in a foundation of trust and respect. Law firms are going to need to look out for their clients.
With respect to the industry generally, I think that law firms need to continue to be forward thinking and innovative. We need to be constantly challenging the historic way of doing things and finding ways to be better, faster and cheaper. This involves adoption of technology solutions--and in particular AI—as well as continuing to identify creative ways to approach less complex, routine tasks.
There are companies out there that do this better than law firms, but law firms have the market stronghold and are well positioned if they move in this direction. I’m fortunate to be at one of the firms that is very deeply invested in innovation and already doing many of these things!
How has your role changed as a result of the pandemic?
I joined Paul Hastings about three months before the pandemic began and spent a good amount of that time traveling and meeting people around the firm. Not only was I new to the firm, but my position is new, so it was really important that I be both visible and seen as I started to establish myself and my role.
Once the pandemic hit, I began to feel very visible, but not very seen. Granted, I’m not alone in this as nearly everyone in the world with the opportunity to do so is working from their home, but it has changed the way I have been developing relationships. I am on the phone and on video calls almost all day every day. It doesn’t make up for the in-person interactions, but has certainly provided an opportunity to continue getting to know the firm.
The pandemic has also provided some great opportunities to my department that may not have otherwise presented themselves. Working remotely has made people more comfortable with technology, more resilient and more open to change, which has led to some great openings for innovation!
Tell us a fun or surprising fact about yourself.
I love to travel, and especially love exploring new places (particularly by foot, so much so that friends and family tease me for taking them on “Vertovec walking tours” of destinations and how you can never trust me when I say that a walk will only be 20 minutes!).
Prior to COVID, we started trying to push our own travel boundaries and created a game that we called “Weekends are Vacations Too,” turning random weekends into trips and ultimately testing how far we could possibly go.
We went lots of places without ever taking a day off: Los Angeles, Orlando, Belize, London, Paris, Ireland and Amsterdam. But the farthest we made it—albeit over a long weekend—was a 14-hour flight to Santiago, Chile. It was an amazing experience that we hope to replicate soon!