How Legal Work Is Changing in the New Normal

In a three-part interview with Legal Current, Susan Hackett, CEO and CLO of Legal Executive Leadership, shares her thoughts about the past, present and future of legal departments concerns and drivers. Often referred to as “the voice of the in-house bar” Susan Hackett served for 22 years as the Senior Vice President and General Counsel at the Association of Corporate Counsel, where she earned a reputation for innovation, excellence and success in serving the specialized practice needs of in-house counsel, and the law firms and legal services with whom they collaborate.

In the interviews Susan Hackett discuss the importance of data, various methods of providing value and using resources available to improve efficiency. In the first part of the interview she focuses on critical tools and language that lawyers are going to need to succeed in the future. In the second she shares her thoughts on the variety of companies and business that offer legal-based solutions, and how client legal services are changing now and even more in the coming years. In the final part she discusses the way legal work used to be done versus how it is expected to be done in the future, comparing the methods and practices in the “old normal” to what will be expected in the “new normal”. She also discusses how to succeed as you drive towards that next phase, and what is going to get you there?

Please find links to the three interviews here:

The concept of the new normal is also discussed by Patrick J. Lamb in the ABA Journal article “A Trusted Adviser in the New Normal Must Be Like a Symphony Conductor“, where it is made clear that the days when a good lawyer was one who possessed superior substantive knowledge of an area of the law are over. Now, a good lawyer must know his or her client’s business and have to be a business adviser. But even that is not enough. “These days, still more is required. Skilled judgment must be delivered efficiently. Clients care what service costs-even skilled service. Clients want service to be delivered predictably.”

In an earlier Legal Innovation Blog post we discussed the demise of the large US law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf (please see “Demise of one more big US firm”), due to difficulties to adapt to the new normal. With the kind of spread on compensation that Dewey had focus was on individual effort and the individual stars. This meant that it was difficult to persuade the lawyers to work on internal projects, focus on knowledge sharing and the building effective practice groups, which in the end made the firm fail in  supporting clients in the best efficient way, in line with the new normal demands.

Paul Lippe has recently predicted that at least 10 Am Law 250 firms will fail between now and the end of 2013, for reasons more or less identical to Dewey’s. Therefore, he has in ABA Journal provided a checklist of 12 questions to make sure you’re not one of them: “A (Don’t Be) Dewey Dozen: Use This Checklist to Make Sure Your Firm Isn’t Dewey“. Paul Lippe has also provided another checklist to help legal department and law firms to find out if they are old normal or new normal, please see this link.