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2024 Priorities, Prospects, Pitfalls—Key Themes

 

  • The Resilient Economy Bounces Back

  • Views of Corporate Counsel on Raising Rates, Risk Analysis, Early Case Assessment, Pricing Disputes, Mandates in Outside Counsel Guidelines

  • Corporate Counsel Collaboration with Law Firms: How Does AI Change the Client Relationship?

  • The Way We Work; Work Allocation; Hybrid Working Models;

Metrics on Working Differently

  • Pricing Models Using AI and/ or other Metrics

  • The Transformative Impact of AI

  • AI—Risks and Benefits, Investment, Implementation and Use Cases

Stellar Panel of Experts…

Rose Battaglia

Managing Director, Co-Head of

Regulatory & Exam Management,

Deutsche Bank, New York

 

Avi Gesser

Partner, Co-Chair, Data Strategy & Security Group, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, New York

 

Julie Strachan Haiber

Global Client Director,

Thomson Reuters, New York

 

Richard Hans

Managing Partner, Verticals,

DLA Piper, New York

 

Brian A. Kenny

Chief Operating Officer, Global Legal Department, The Bank of New York Mellon, New York

 

David M. Kleinhandler

Senior Vice President, CBRE, New York

 

Melissa Prince

Chief of Legal Operations,

Ice Miller, Philadelphia

 

William Perlstein

Senior Managing Director, Vice-Chair,

Client Services, FTI Consulting,

Washington, D.C.

Sean McNamara

Chief Financial Officer, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, New York

 

Joe McSpadden

Executive Vice President, Global Legal Services, Williams Lea, Chicago

 

Kruti Mehta

Chief Client Value Officer,

Steptoe & Johnson,

Washington, D.C.

 

Paul R. Nicandri

Chief Practice Management, Pricing Officer,

DLA Piper, Reston, Virginia

 

Cynthia Romano

Senior Managing Director,

FTI Consulting, New York

 

Pamela Torres

General Counsel of Global Investment Research; Global Head of the Technology, Sourcing and Intellectual Property Legal Group, Goldman Sachs & Co., New York

 

Meredith Williams-Range
Chief Legal Operations Officer,
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, New York

2024 is Off to a Smooth Start

The US economy is showing signs of resilience with “steady hiring and cooling wage growth“ fueling hope that inflation will remain under 4% and there will be a “soft landing” without a recession.*  Heightened cybersecurity risks and high profile breaches add to the challenges.  There were over 3000 breaches in 2023 according to a recent study. Central to how to deal with these external forces is the firms’ approach to utilizing AI and metrics in novel ways in pricing, realization and strategy revisions.

 

What clients want today is very different too.  They want to collaborate with all levels of law firm team members from project managers to relationship partners.

 

This year’s 12th Annual Conference will examine the use of AI and profitability and pricing metrics for clients and law firms.  How should we expect lawyer leaders and partners to use AI in the on-going decision-making process as well as in research and written products? 

Clients Push Back Against Firm Cost Overruns

Clients have tools to measure actual panel firm bills vs budgets.  Overruns appear to be as common as ever; but clients are pushing back.  Clients are no longer willing to pay cost overruns without agreement and documentation. 

 

We will emphasize what clients need now and in the future, what the clients say are the biggest short-comings in their work with law firms—from servicing client needs appropriately to keeping within cost limitations set by clients. 

We also will review some of the core profitability terms negotiated with clients such as payment terms/ collection cycles and the utilization of outsourcing as both cost reduction and as an addition to management expertise.

Is AI Transformative in Practice?

AI may be transformative but it also adds to the challenges firms face today.  Data analytics also are problematic as firms struggle to clean up their data. For example, there is considerable risk in using IP owned by one client for other firm work product. AI implementation is more complex and expensive than we thought. There are internal projects related to billing, collection, research requiring new project management skills; and external management needs related to collaboration with clients by firm partners and business team members at all levels. Other ethical and practical risks must be managed by partners, and firm business executives. 

 

That’s why the 2024 Conference will be so valuable.  Top experts from leading law firms at the forefront of the rapidly evolving and changing business environment and corporate counsel will describe with examples what they are doing differently to enhance AI-informed decision-making, action plans and use cases.

Program: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. EDT

Panel 1: What Clients Want—And Expect:  How to Collaborate Effectively with Them

  • Clients are driving change; perspective from corporate counsel. What is changing? How does client and firm remote working affect the calculus?  Clients are suggesting and requiring ways to rein in exploding rate increases. 

  • Rising expectations: clients want law firms to collaborate and provide more service for discounted or lower fees

  • Clients are using tools and metrics to measure firm expenses by comparing budget to actual expenditures.

  • Client views on risk analysis, early case assessment, pricing disputes, mandates

  • Are alternative fees growing in number and type?  What new arrangements are working?

  • Examples of partnering with clients

  • Clients expect firms to extend efficiency gains through firm use of AI and technology to them.

Panel 2: Financial Discipline Makes a Difference: Trends in Profitability, and Data-Driven Decision Making

  • Components of profitability.  What peers are doing?

  • Working with clients/legal departments in challenging times with rates rising and economic uncertainty

  • Improving performance: opportunities, challenges and metrics

  • Clients need to produce continual savings in external spend. How can law firms help?

  • How is work allocation handled and who handles this function?

  • Changing roles of internal and external service providers including ALSPs

  • Real Estate space needs and designs have changed dramatically. How should firms pivot to hoteling and “Hot” desks?

  • Preparing data to use in efficiency, productivity and profitability analysis

Panel 3: Pricing, Fees & Rates

  • Enterprise-wide role & responsibilities including client facing roles of pricing, chief value & other C-level officers

  • Risk analysis, early case assessment, pricing disputes, mandates

  • Alternative fee arrangements grow in number and type

    • Hard non-hourly caps

    • Success fees

    • Blended fees

    • Fixed fees

    • Other new arrangements

  • How do you address predictability in your calculations? Defining scope and responsibilities – what will clients pay for?

  • Payment terms, billing and collection issues. What are the best approaches?

Panel 4: AI Grows in Importance as a Practice, Planning, Predictability Tool

  • Decision making using AI data. Data housekeeping to prepare for machine learning

  • Chat GPT and other AI enhancements.  Where should your firm invest?

  • Predictive analysis and the budget process, attorney and matter budgets

  • New ways for firms to take advantage of AI for research and to improve forecasting and increase efficiency

  • Risk analysis; acting on data results

  • Use Cases

*Cooling Labor Boosts Rate-Cut Hopes”, Wall Street Journal, March 9

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