16th Annual Law Firm COO & CFO Forum Preview: The Impact of the Financial Crisis & Great Recession on the Legal Marketplace

Topics: Business Development & Marketing Blog Posts, Client Relations, COO/CFO Forum, Corporate Legal, Efficiency, Law Firms, Leadership, Legal Executive Events, Midsize Law Firms Blog Posts, Thomson Reuters


NEW YORK — It’s been 10 years since the Financial Crisis and the ensuing Great Recession roiled the worldwide economy, resulting in ripples of change still felt today. Most notably, the change wrought by these events on the legal industry has been profound and game-changing, from demands by increasingly sophisticated clients to pressures brought by technological innovations in legal service delivery.

Later this month, the Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute will present The 16th Annual Law Firm COO & CFO Forum at the New York Downtown Marriott. This premier national summit for law firm officers and their peers will be held Oct. 25-27 and continues its tradition of insightful panels, industry expert discussion and networking opportunities for members of the AmLaw 200. This year’s theme is a 10-year retrospective on legal services from 2007-2017.

The Forum’s opening session, entitled Ten Years in Turmoil: The State of the US Legal Market (2007-2017), will focus on the remarkable transformation affecting the profession by identifying leading drivers of change with far-reaching ramifications: growing client empowerment, new entrants in legal services delivery, the frantic pace of law firm mergers, and the increasingly liminal state of law firm financial performance. Overall, the past decade has offered a sobering portrait of how quickly a global industry, once notoriously resistant to change, has been forced to survive and adapt.

Subsequent conference sessions offer a robust and tactical dive into core business strategies seen as responses to the economic crisis. Thursday afternoon features three breakout sessions helmed by a faculty of diverse and accomplished industry thought leaders. One such discussion, entitled A Culture of Stars: Winning with Laterals in the Current Market, will discuss the maturation of lateral hiring strategies over the past decade. Attendees will engage with leading law firms recognized for their ability to attract and develop lateral talent. Other breakout sessions offer earnest dialogue around practice specialization amid market segmentation, and a candid take on legal project management and pricing strategies as seen from both the law firm and client perspective.

Forum attendees will also be treated to a deep dive into the potential of promoting innovation-fueled growth by enlisting an expanded network of legal experts in a Keynote Presentation by Dr. Rob Cross, the Edward A. Madden Professor of Global Business at Babson College.

Dr. Rob Cross of Babson College

In his talk, entitled Innovation and Organic Growth through Networks, Dr. Cross will examine how innovation — represented by new products, enhanced processes or even alterations to the traditional law firm business model — remains central to an organization’s ability to adapt to changing markets and technologies. Offering a unique take on this timely topic, Dr. Cross contends that the increased complexity of new products and services, along with reduced development cycles, leaner budgets and constantly evolving technological advancement, have meant that innovation efforts must also be infused with a depth and breadth of expertise from both inside and outside of the firm. This means that to successfully spur innovation and resultant growth, law firms must search their ranks for valuable expertise, while also leveraging outside professional services firms to ensure that all possibilities (outcomes) are possible. As Dr. Cross will demonstrate, collaboration and talent management can yield real results that successfully overcome the historically dominant (if perhaps damaging) idea that true innovation comes only from “lone, genius inventors”.

Sessions continuing on the Forum’s final day will include examinations of how training and talent retention have changed, and how artificial intelligence in the legal industry continues to create new opportunities for firms.

As an added bonus, on Wednesday, Oct. 25, The Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute will present The 2017 Law Firm Financial Performance Forum, which will provide attendees an immersive opportunity to engage peers and clients on key management topics such as the evolving suite of metrics to assess firm performance and collaborative management strategies around lawyer compensation and origination credit.

Finally, our Wednesday program concludes with a pricing negotiation master class led by a faculty of esteemed legal clients. In this advanced-level workshop, attendees will get to engage directly with clients in mock negotiation exercises, gaining unique insight into client pain-points and billing consistency, while learning the art of client-facing strategic conversations.