The 2018 Legal Executive Forum: Transforming Law Firms’ Approach to Culture, Client Service & Talent

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Legal Executive Forum

The upcoming 2018 Legal Executive Forum, presented by Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute on June 7-8 in New York City, has been designed with the changing legal landscape and the viable future of law firms in mind.

The event is not only a national summit on law practice management designed for AmLaw 200 law firm chairs, managing partners, and executive committee members, but it has also been crafted to represent a new era of rigorous thought leadership and professional development for top law firm decision-makers throughout North America.

The two-day event offers panels, keynotes and networking opportunities that will allow attendees to leverage the expert insights from a new generation of law firm executives and reflect on the dynamic changes impacting legal services on both in the US and on a global scale. “This year’s program reflects a desire to experiment with a ‘deep dive’ format where speakers take us inside their organizations or the market data to garner specific insights on what’s working, what’s not, and why,” said Nicholas Giannini, senior manager of conferences & events at Thomson Reuters Legal, adding that part of this new format includes ample time for audience interactions with the speakers and panelists.

The Forum is co-chaired by Prof. William Henderson, the Stephen F. Burns Chair on the Legal Profession at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law and Editor of Legal Evolution; and Tim Mohan, Chief Executive Partner at Chapman and Cutler. The co-chairs will also deliver the Forum luncheon keynote, asking the question, “Is Innovation a Strategy or a Component of How We Successfully Execute?” and considering how innovations in process improvement, artificial intelligence, outsourcing and alternative fee arrangements are impacting competition in legal services. Pushing the question deeper, the discussion will also focus on how innovation is and should be viewed to be a best-in-class service provider.


This year’s program reflects a desire to experiment with a ‘deep dive’ format where speakers take us inside their organizations or the market data to garner specific insights on what’s working, what’s not, and why.


“The format of this program is to let innovators go deep on what they know best,” said Prof. Henderson. “Instead of opinion, we are focusing on experience with plenty of time to engage the audience.”

The Challenge of a Switch

In the Morning Keynote presentation, Leading a Switch, author Dan Heath, who has co-written four New York Times best-selling books, including his latest, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, will discuss why some big changes happen easily while many small changes prove impossible. The answer, according to Heath, hinges on how our mind is divided into two different systems — an analytical mind and an emotional mind — that are often in conflict, particularly in situations of change. Building on this compelling research, Heath will reveal a simple, three-part framework to help business leaders lead successfully confront change in today’s tough legal market.

law schools

William D. Henderson, Professor of Law & Stephen F. Burns Chair on the Legal Profession at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law

An afternoon panel will offer insight into the minds of Generation X law firm leaders, as moderator Cristina A. Carvalho, Managing Partner at Arent Fox, is joined by panelists Matt R. Burnstein, Chairman of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis; Scott J. Fisher, Managing Partner at Neal Gerber Eisenberg; James Goodnow, President & Managing Partner at Fennemore Craig; and F. Chase Simmons, Vice Chairman & Chair-Elect at Polsinelli. The new leaders will analyze the number of unenviable challenges they face in an era of industrial upheaval, what lessons they’ve gleaned from their predecessors, and what initiatives these leaders believe will help them guide their firms on the path to success.

On the second day of the Forum, a morning panel will examine the growing phenomenon of “intrapreneurships” within law firms — that is, the employment of internal innovators, who run carefully vetted and scaled projects within the firm, with the mandate to eventually deliver tangible benefits to the firm.

Panelists William T. Garcia, Chief Practice Innovation Officer at Thompson Hine; Tim House, Partner & Global Head of Dispute Resolution at Allen & Overy; and Eric J. Wood, Practice Innovations & Technology Partner at Chapman and Cutler will offer a series of case studies detailing the ideas and creative methods behind projects to foster operational advancement across large, complex organizations.

“Leading change — or making a “switch” — is never easy,” says Giannini, “especially when one considers the myriad forces impacting legal services today. But time and tide wait for no (wo)man. And our aim is to deliver a timely, exciting, and ultimately practical look at how both current and future generations of law firm executives are guiding their firms through the maelstrom.”