Esther Bowers, Chief Practice Management Officer at Honigman LLP
How did you get into this field?
I have been in legal for over 18 years but my career has evolved as I am a student of the market and seek to understand how the legal industry is changing and how I can provide the greatest value where I am, specifically as it relates to positioning the firm to maximize opportunities and leverage strengths. I started in legal education and the development of programming to advance lawyers’ legal skills. I did that for a number of years and then moved into business development when the CMO at my prior firm took a chance on me (having no meaningful experience in bus dev) and it was from there that I began to have a deeper understanding of what clients were looking for from their outside counsel and the shifts taking place in how they were purchasing legal services. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be at firms where there is an interest, openness and investment in evolving how legal services are delivered in response to (and in some cases ahead of) client needs. My role now has a broad remit as I work with my firm’s Operating Committee – a group of firm leaders who focus on the legal operations.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love the people. I love the ability to be strategic, creative and bring people together to develop solutions to advance client relationships and the firm. I get to build new programs and I truly enjoy the opportunity I have to work on so many different types of things and alongside highly talented people. When I tell people that I am passionate about legal innovation and operations I never know how they are going to respond – but it is true, I love what I do and the people I get the opportunity to work with.
What are some of the challenges you face?
The same challenges as my peers in other firms, in legal ops roles within law departments and others providing service to the legal industry: change management. Bringing about new ideas/systems/models that require change which can be uncomfortable for people across any organization. Another challenge is related to scalability; creating repeatable models so that we can maintain quality and service while growing/expanding.
How has your role changed in the past couple of years?
My role requires me to work across (and with) every single operational function within the firm whereas a few years ago, I had a role that worked with fewer areas. The position I am in now affords me the opportunity to have better business insights as I understand the priorities within other functions and how best to collaborate and support one another.
What is a fun or surprising fact about yourself?
I was homeschooled until my senior year of high school. While this experience taught me a lot about how to be self-disciplined and motivated (skills that have lent themselves to working remotely very productively), it did NOT prepare me to homeschool my own four children during the pandemic. That second part is also a fun, and many times surprising (especially to me), fact about myself; having four children ranging in ages from two to ten (three of them are boys) means that I am regularly getting ready for the day while in the midst of some Nerf battle/wrestle-fest.