Edge International Communiqué
Insights and Analysis from Edge International, the Leading Global Consultancy to the Legal Profession

May, 2014     
5 Key Observations on Law's Tectonic Shifts 


Firms ignore these significant changes to the law-practice environment at their own risk.

by Pamela Woldow Esq. 

Any development that changes the rules and renders present practices obsolete is called a "destructive trend," that is, something that utterly destroys the present way we think and do things, something that threatens to quickly alter the status quo.  Over and again in our recent consulting engagements -- particularly with large firms, where trends tend to start -- we're seeing signals that the legal profession is caught in the confluence of destructive trends:


  1. Firms have too many Income and Equity partners, and this is a major problem because client demand remains down and clients now have a rapidly-growing number of excellent -- and cost effective -- alternative sources of legal work. Firms are top-heavy, they know they are top-heavy, and they're not doing enough about it.


  1. Half of what lawyers do now will soon be accomplished by technology or alternative (i.e., non-lawyer) providers for a fraction of what firms are charging clients. Technology is changing everything. Routine work will soon be delegated to technology platforms and solutions. Incredibly sophisticated algorithms and expert systems will snap up commoditizable tasks so fast it's going to make managing partners' heads spin. GCs already are using Neota Logic and Kiiac to accomplish work that used to go to law firm lawyers.


  1. Clients are denouncing and resisting rate increases. The growing strength of the forces of the buyers' market mean that firms are discounting to try to hold market share and clients are squeezing in the sure knowledge that almost all firms will concede lower prices. Innovative alternative fee arrangements make legal headlines daily. Corporate counsel looking for truly efficient legal services are calling Axiom, Clearspire, Project Counsel and other non-traditional tamperers of the legal service delivery paradigm.


  1. Associate loyalty has vanished, and most associates are flight risks. Unless an associate is a gifted natural rainmaker/BD whiz, s/he knows it's going to be nearly impossible to make equity partner. Associates, hyper-specialized and increasingly undertrained as professional development budgets are slashed, know that they are at risk in a competitive market place. And law schools are compounding the labor glut by pumping out 44,000 grads each year for only about 21,000 jobs. In such a jammed marketplace, associates will jump at any opportunity that looks better and safer, or that provides more career leverage.


  1. Supportive firm cultures are a dying breed. "Eat what you kill (or bill)" simply is not a recipe for collegial sharing. Today's tightening economic pressure on partners to deliver revenue and clients have obliterated incentives for collaboration. Millennials are checking out because they see that partners don't walk the culture talk. Gen Xers are not invested in firm culture because they have never been invested in any collective identity. And while senior lawyers lament today's erosion of the bonds of fraternity, they are realizing that it's hard to be collegial when the successor generation wants to push you outside the igloo to freeze.

We are convinced that the changes we're seeing really are harbingers of inexorable and large scale destructive trends. Yet, we frequently are likened to Chicken Little in our efforts to awaken a sleepy profession to the trends that are fundamentally transforming its topography and economics.  We get pushback from lawyers complacently ignoring temblors and tectonic rumblings ("Well, we had quite a nice 2013, thank you very much"). Perhaps the profession's impending paradigm shifts have not yet hit these nay-sayers full force, but the signals are clear.  Okay, maybe the sky isn't falling, but no doubt about it: the ground certainly is shifting.

Focus on the "R" in "CRM"   

Client relationship management programmes must keep the emphasis on "relationships."

by Bithika Anand       



Over the past few years, there has been a sharp increase in the implementation of customer relationship management (CRM) programmes across all sizes of law firms. Firms that were already successfully running CRM programmes are updating to the latest technology and those who are new to CRM are experimenting with processes and software for their firms.


CRM software for the legal industry has turned into an industry in itself with renowned companies like Lexis Nexis, Thomson Reuters and Aderant being joined by a host of other new companies, both small and large.


Among all the useful aids and tools available through  CRM software, the R in CRM continues to be the most important letter in the acronym. Therefore while devising any CRM programme or implementing any software, it is imperative that you continue to ask how that tool or feature will add value to your relationship with your client.


Sometimes the best tools for strengthening relationships with your clients are not the complicated documents, slides and excel sheets, but a two minute phone call or a meeting over coffee.

There are many firms that do this effectively; however, a few get carried away by the expansive analysis and data that is generated through their newly acquired or updated CRM software. In the process, they end up over-relying on the same, under the assumption that this is what is desired by the client.


Some of the golden rules that have lasted generations even prior to the advent of technology include easy steps such as ensuring periodic interaction with your client without business being on the table or on your mind.


An easy way to build and maintain your client relationship is to gain your clients' trust through transparent and fair billing processes. This is an area where your CRM and billing software provide the necessary support. However, you must remember that the essence of this exercise is not in the numbers but in the trust-building communication.


A lesser used feature which is slowly being incorporated by companies in their CRM products is the mapping of personal information of your client. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduation days of their children, weekly golf bets are perfect occasions to remind the clients that you care and are willing to invest your time in building your relationship with them.


Another linked observation has been the desire for clients demanding actual partner face time, which has resulted in clients shifting from top tier firms to lower tier firms where they are guaranteed higher face time. This further strengthens the belief that our profession is one where the product is the mind of our lawyers and the same cannot be replaced by technology.


The most important factor for any client relationship management programme to be successful is to ensure that it is the relationship that drives the programme and not the programme that drives the relationship. Each piece of client feedback should result in bespoke tailoring of your programme by building on the positive and addressing the negative.


The key aim should always be to become the confidant and trusted advisor of your client and thus move away from being merely a service provider. It is primarily for this reason that the stress in CRM has to be on building relationships.


At the end of the day, relationships are all about people, thus maintaining your relationship with your clients is solely in your hands. While software and processes can help keep you on track and allow you to map your CRM activities, the onus is on you to keep your clients close to you through a human connect.



Contact the author, Bithika Anand


In This Issue
Pamela Woldow outlines five major changes to the world of legal practice that cannot be ignored
Bithika Anand discusses the central role of relationships in CRM
  Gerry Riskin

Gerry Riskin 





Ed Wesemann



Pam Woldow
Doug Richardson 

John Plank 

 John Plank







New York,

Ft. Lauderdale, 

Mike White

Of Counsel 

Legal League Consulting, LLC  
Delhi and Mumbai,
At The Podium: Upcoming Appearances by Edge Partners   

MAY 2014

Gerry Riskin May 01
Keynote Presentation,
ABA Law Practice Division: Gateway to the Future: Marketing and Business Development Strategies for the New World
St. Louis MO  


Jordan Furlong May 22
Keynote Presentation,
2014 Litigation, Dispute Resolution and Appellate Practice Institute State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE
Milwaukee, WI   

JUNE 2014

Gerry Riskin June 12
Keynote Presentation,
P3 (Practice Innovation) Conference
Legal Marketing Association
Chicago, IL  


Jordan Furlong June 27
Keynote Presentation,
Vision 2016 President's Showcase State Bar of Florida Annual Conference
Orlando, FL  


Gerry Riskin Oct 17
Keynote Presentation, Annual Futures Conference
College of Law Practice Management
Boston, Massachusetts 

Edge Blogs

Jordan Furlong's  



Ed Wesemann's Creating Dominance


Pam Woldow's At The Intersection


Gerry Riskin's Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices

Nick Jarrett-Kerr's NJK

Edge Inter
national is a global consultancy that provides strategic advice and tactical guidance to law firms and law departments worldwide. Read more about us or contact one of our partners