How we work with clients

Adam Smith, Esq. Consulting  Services  offers law firms deep analysis and concrete solutions leading to meaningful increases in performance—helping  firms better prepare for tomorrow.

We work with firms of all sizes in all market segments.  In every engagement, our overriding goal is to achieve meaningful improvements in performance through genuine insights into their business.  Based in New York, we operate globally.

  • We approach each assignment as agnostics. By that, we mean we have no pre-conceived notions of what will or will not work at a particular firm. Our recommendations are based on each firm’s distinctions as seen through the lens of our decades of experience in law and business.  We follow where our research and other available information lead us, with outputs informed by our deep understanding of the legal industry and other industries where we can draw applicable insights. Our work is deliberate, though not formulaic. We approach our work with energy, creativity and an open mind. Our ideal client is prepared to engage with us in an “idea-friendly” environment.
  • We work collaboratively with our clients. This means among other things that we’ll check in regularly during the process and will seek your inputs along the way. This allows for flexibility and mid-course corrections as the need arises, and ultimately, in our opinion, leads to preferred outcomes. We view proposals as starting points for conversations, not finished documents.
  • We look to incorporate a client’s existing, relevant material – backgrounders, data, interviews, insights, etc. into our work; we have neither the inclination nor the desire to reinvent the wheel.
  • We provide our unvarnished opinions and we will tell you what we think. But we promise to be very nice about it, and we recognize that you are the client—meaning that we’ll be highly supportive of whatever decisions are ultimately taken.
  • As you should expect, we approach all our work with the utmost confidentiality, discretion, and probity.


Strategic Development at Law Firms is a serious and necessary undertaking for a firm. There is a growing body of evidence supporting the hypothesis — which we subscribe to — that firms who (a) have compelling strategies (b) and stick to them are more successful than firms who don’t.

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We believe that incentives matter and if you watch how lawyers behave you will find them closely attuned to the behaviors that bring the greatest rewards at year end. That’s why many firms come to us for counsel on their compensation structures—from a tweak to a clean-sheet-of-paper overhaul.

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For the past several years, law firm merger activity has been growing. This is understandable in the current environment, which is defined, for all but the most elite and privileged firms, by the battle for market share. Still, the industry continues to see combinations that appear odd or inexplicable. We can work with you to approach such critical and transformative events with discipline, rigor, and strategic acuity.

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Succession Planning

Among the most charged issues we deal with is managing the transition of firm leadership and/or key client relationships into new hands. Many firms postpone planning for these inevitable events, leaving them at the mercy of unexpected developments which can come at inopportune times. We can help you lay sound groundwork for preserving and enhancing the firm’s future vitality.

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The premise of a premortem is simple. Those considering adopting a new initiative—say, a strategic plan, a new compensation system, a technique for measuring profitability or streamlining workflow—are asked to imagine themselves a year hence when the initiative has failed miserably. Everyone is invited to take a few minutes writing down the reasons it failed.

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Outside Directorship

As corporate governance principles have evolved, a short list of generally recognized “best practices” has emerged, which find application across the spectrum of business organizations, from major public companies to startups and non-profits. One key entry on that short list is the desirability of having a place on the Board for one or more outside or independent directors. We can and do serve in that role for law firms.

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Short, intensive half-day training sessions and group exercises can go a long way towards giving lawyers at your firm a shared vocabulary and assumptions, set of priorities, and agreed-upon action items.

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How to know what you don’t know.
At Adam Smith, Esq., we have experience in a wide variety of research techniques so we can employ the best methodology to get the answers you need. From online surveys to assess firmwide issues – to one-on-one or focused group interviews with partners, key stakeholders and external audiences – we have the right tools to unearth key issues and opportunities at your firm. Each research undertaking is customized to the needs and resources of each client.

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Retreats & Conferences

The costs of putting together and attending law firm retreats and industry conferences, both in time and financial outlays, can be considerable. We’ve worked with dozens of firms and other organizations to help ensure that the outcomes are more than commensurate with the investment — as evidenced by the many clients who keep inviting us back.

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What we do not do:

We do not consult on the following topics, although we know several firms and individuals who can provide exceptional service in each of these areas and are happy to offer recommendations:

  • Individual coaching or mentoring;
  • HR issues;
  • IT from the technical perspective (as opposed to its strategic dimension, such as Knowledge Management)

Based in Manhattan, with an office in Santiago, Chile, we operate globally, in North and South America, in the UK and Europe, and in Asia and Australia.

Where We’ll Be

There’s no substitute for face to face. Meeting in person invites nuance, shading, adds dimensions to communication, and fosters stronger relationships. So, we travel. Here are a few of our upcoming locations. Are you in the area? Want to meet? Let us know.

January 23, 2019
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Bruce MacEwen, President
direct: +1.212.866.4800
mobile: .+1.212.866.2630
New York

Janet Stanton, Partner
direct: +1.212.866.4270
New York

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