We asked Legal Value Network member Marcie Borgal Shunk, President & Founder of The Tilt Institute, to tell us more about her career path and what she loves most about what she does. Connect with Marcie on LinkedIn.
What unique value do you see women bring to the legal industry?
Diversity of perspectives, in any form, is an asset, and not just to the legal industry. Women bring to legal a different viewpoint, just as people of different races, ethnicities, sexual orientation and backgrounds. This diversity drives better results – and not just in terms of financial performance, but also in improved outcomes and lower risk.
At a global level, having more women in positions of power and decision-making within legal presents an opportunity to transform the way we live our lives. Applying the old adage, “variety is the spice of life,” women, and other diverse populations, give the legal industry a much-needed boost, igniting change in an area where, perhaps, there has not been enough for too long.
Tell us how you got into your field.
I have recently come to the realization I am a sociologist at heart. I studied Sociology as an undergrad at Harvard with the intent of attending law school and then I discovered I loved research and analysis and learning about people far more than the law itself. After a stint supporting expert witnesses and then 11 years performing market research in the legal sector, I was hooked. Lawyers are fascinating. They’re brilliant, opinionated and idiosyncratic. I now consider myself a sociologist of lawyers, studying their organizations and behaviors and helping leaders improve themselves, their cultures and their firms.
What do you love most about what you do?
The change. I thrive on helping others improve what they are doing, on seeing them discover new and better ways to engage with themselves and those around them, and on watching entire organizations elevate their performance and get better results based on something I was a part of.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing law firms today in their relationship with outside counsel and the major changes and threats in the legal industry?
In the wake of 2020, it would be impossible not to note the significant shifts resulting from the pandemic and social rights movement. Many firms right now are grappling with back-to-work policies and defining what the workplace will look like as we head back to the office. Diversity has taken a new level of priority across the industry, with pressure from clients reaching new heights and investments at many firms (at long last) targeting holistic shifts in culture to create more inclusive environments. Professional development and leadership training also are in high demand, as firms grapple with ways to ensure Associates and laterals are getting the support and education they need to be productive and happy.
The competitive environment, simultaneously, is heating up. With Arizona and Utah opening up to allow more competition, and other states pondering the same, we will continue to see law companies and the Big 4 erode the toehold law firms previously had on servicing in-house counsel. This macro shift, alongside the influx of legaltech options for law firms and clients alike, will create dynamic opportunities for alliances and creative solutions to address client needs in new and comprehensive ways.
Tell us a fun or surprising fact about yourself.
In 2000, I gave up my spot at the Kennedy school to move to Barcelona where I joined a start-up and behaved recklessly for a year. I vacillate between chalking this up to a delayed gap year, or a wildly premature mid-life crisis.