The National Law Journal recently released their “2013 Legal Business Trailblazers & Pioneers” report, which I take it they intend to be an annual event, although this is the first of its kind.
According to Kenneth Gary, the Publisher, it’s “the inaugural list of p[eople who have truly ‘moved the needle’ in facilitating changing the ways tha tlaw firms conduct business…we think this list embodies the spirit that will shepherd and shape modern law firms as a business going into 2014 and beyond.”
And lo and behold, yours truly is included as one of 17 “Strategists & Drivers.” I’d be disingenuous to a fault not to admit that I was delighted to be selected, and I stand in humbling company, but that’s not what this is about. It’s about what some of those people are saying in terms of the need for firms to change. A somewhat random selection (I won’t give you a potted bio of any of these folks since a far better job is done in the report itself—see link above):
- Peter Kalis of K&L Gates: There’s a tendency for people in the grips of inertia to think ‘we finally got there,’but ‘past will be prologue, as the profession has more consolidation and globalization to experience before the market finds equilibrium.
- Sally King, Akin Gump: I expect more willingness to take risks [even though] lawyers tend to be extremely skeptical, so it’s oftten quite difficult to get them to act nimbly. But firms can reengineer themselves.
- David Perla and Sanjay Kamlani, the founders of Pangea3: The legal industry is starting to resemble a “normal” industry, rather than a guild or profession. Look at the venture communities, you will see hundreds of companies that are trying to tackle legal. Many will fail, but some will not. It’s a renaissance in leagl entrepreneurship.
- Jay Zimmerman of Bingham: The pace of change over the past five or six years is unlike anything seen before. Most attribute it to the events of 2008, but a lot of what we’re seeing is actually the result of technology and the flow of information, and the industry remains in the midst of some radical changes.
- Other notables include:
- Bob Dell of Latham
- Mark Harris of Axiom
- Brad Hildebrandt of you-know-where
- Ward Bower of Altman-Weil
- The inimitable Richard Susskind, and
- Tony Williams of Jomati
My own contribution is described simply: “Helping create the framework for how people think about the industry.”
My reaction? I truly and humbly thank you, all my readers, for thinking through all the issues I’ve been covering here on Adam Smith, Esq. for the past decade. It is not false modesty to say I could never have done it without you—without your thoughtfulness, candor, nuanced perspectives, and, in many cases, friendship.
You are the “trailblazers” every bit as much as I.