Strategy

IBM Watson & Machine Learning

Last week here in New York we had the opportunity to invite a couple of dozen law firms to “An Introduction to IBM Watson” at the brand new $1-billion IBM Watson facility down on Astor Place. This is not going to be a report on that event, except insofar as it helped advance our thinking
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Articles, Leadership, Strategy, Technology strategy

Complexity Requires Systems

Much talk has been devoted lately to whether the growth of in-house law departments will take market share from Big Law, or, posed more in the language of economics, whether in-house lawyers are a reasonable substitute for outside counsel. Confessing that I have not devoted concerted effort to exploring the issue, I suppose my own
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Articles, Business Models, Finance, Strategy, Technology strategy

Looking for Innovation in All The Wrong Places

Jimmy Lee, 62, died last week of a heart attack after working out, at his home in Darien. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, he was a vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase, where he had spent his entire 40-year career. He started right out of Williams College at Chemical Bank (later merged into JPMC) when
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Articles, Business Models, Leadership, Strategy

Financial or Strategic M&A?

The industry standard in tracking law firm mergers, Altman Weil’s Mergerline, has had this to say about activity in the wake of the Global Financial Reset (emphasis mine): 2011:  “There were 60 law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the United States in 2011.  The annual total was up 54% from 2010 and at the
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Articles, Finance, Leadership, M&A, Strategy

De-Listing

With the annual publication of the AmLaw 100 and Second Hundred, it’s rankings season for BigLaw. Think of it as our little industry’s equivalent of earnings season for public companies—we having become a “quasi public” industry, as one of my favorite managing partners has observed. The difference is that we report our financials annually as
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Articles, Finance, Globalization, Publications, Strategy

“We’re #1″

A slightly briefer version of this column appeared in Bloomberg Law’s Business of Law.  I republish it here with their kind permission, and with a small amount of additional elaboration. Fact:  For the first time, Latham & Watkins took the top spot for revenue in the American Lawyer rankings. Hypothesis:  Some industry commentators have said that to
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Articles, Leadership, Strategy

What’s Your GE Capital Practice?

Do you ever actually look hard at your firm’s overall business structure? No, really. Let’s go a step further. Stipulating arguendo that you are one of the rare few who do every once in awhile take a hard look, what do you then actually do about it? I submit that we have in two seemingly
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Articles, Business Models, Finance, Leadership, Strategy

Pricing Power

The growth of professionals in Law Land with the word “pricing” in their title has been explosive over the past couple of years. It’s a trend we applaud loudly and fervently, so perhaps it’s worth a primer on how it’s done in the major leagues: When B2B companies with thousands of SKU’s and tens or
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Articles, Cultural Considerations, Finance, Marketing, Practice Group Management, Strategy

ABA Antitrust Immunity? Not so fast

Hallelujah! A profession just lost a very big round at the Supreme Court. I refer of course to the Court’s 6-3 ruling in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC, finding that the dental examiners’ board attempting to prohibit nondentists from teeth whitening violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. If you think this was
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Articles, Business Models, Finance, Globalization, Strategy

Can Big Firms Innovate?

“Innovation” seems to be on everyone’s lips these days. Among other things, the problems are: Many people, lawyers in particular, are stumped when it comes to describing what “innovation” actually is; Business history proves to a fare-thee-well that it’s extremely challenging for successful incumbents to actually follow through with anything innovative; And of course there’s
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Articles, Cultural Considerations, Finance, Leadership, Strategy, Technology strategy