14th Annual Law Firm COO & CFO Forum: How Firms Are Managing the Most Challenging Issues

Topics: Business Development & Marketing Blog Posts, COO/CFO Forum, Law Firm Profitability, Law Firms, Thomson Reuters

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We will convene the 14th Annual Law Firm COO & CFO Forum this Thursday and Friday in New York City. Nearly 300 participants have registered for the event. I am eagerly looking forward to it.

The COO & CFO Forum offers a unique opportunity for law firm Clevel leaders to come together once a year to address the most significant management issues they confront. The Forum focuses each year on pragmatic questions that leaders are managing, and, among those, the ones which are most vexing and require the most experience and judgment.

The Forum will open with two sessions which examine the “new realities” of the legal services market. In the first, Forum Co-Chairs Dan DiPietro, Managing Director and Chairman of Citi Private Bank Law Firm Group, and Jim Jones, Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at Georgetown University Law Center, and I will present comprehensive data on the trajectory of change in the legal marketplace, including the segmentation and consolidation of the market, and the accelerating client preference for firms and other providers which offer the greatest cost effectiveness.


[We] will present comprehensive data on the trajectory of change in the legal marketplace, including the segmentation and consolidation of the market, and the accelerating client preference for firms and other providers which offer the greatest cost effectiveness.


In the second session, a panel of CFOs from a diverse set of law firms will share details of what their firms are doing to anticipate and respond to these changes, including specifically, how they are revising their business strategies and adapting to client demands for cost effectiveness.

Forum attendees will then choose one of the following four break-out sessions to drill deeper into particular issues:

  • Lateral Partner Hiring and Integration — Law firms are hiring more lateral partners than ever, often with disappointing results. This session will consider market data on lateral hiring and analysis of how firms can achieve greater success, both in hiring decisions and subsequent integration.
  • Improving Partner Project Management Effectiveness — Project management is one of the keys to achieving greater efficiency. Firms are increasingly adopting new and ambitious project management programs. This session will explore how to achieve partner buy-in and successful execution of such programs.
  • The Promise of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning — Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are among the most alluring elements of legal technology. In this session, participants will hear from and interact with experienced leaders about what AI and machine learning make possible in future legal service delivery.
  • Dealing with Underperforming Partners and Practice Groups — Among the most challenging issues law firm leaders must address are dealing with individual partners and/or practice groups that no longer meet the firm’s strategic expectations. This session will explore how to assess and deal with these very sensitive issues.

The first day of the Forum will conclude with what promises to be powerful session, exploring the role of the CFO in today’s law firm, given the clear imperatives for firms to understand and improve their economic efficiency. A panel of accomplished leaders, including CFOs from three different firms, will examine the evolution of the CFO position and the increasingly sophisticated and complicated issues practitioners must manage.

The second day of the Forum will open with a keynote address by Dartmouth Professor Vijay Govindarajan. He will address how leaders navigate the uncharted waters of turbulent markets, focusing on the strategies that are most successful in the context of law firms and other professional service firms.

The Forum will conclude by looking to the future. In the final session, a panel of experts will discuss trends in the financial, energy, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries that are likely to impact the legal marketplace in the years ahead.

I will report next week on the findings and other highlights of the Forum.