Hosted by the LMA Client Value SIG, P3 – The Practice Innovation Conference offers educational sessions and workshops focused on the business aspects of developing a successful law practice, including the disciplines of project management, pricing and process improvement.
This year's conference, held in Chicago, kicked off with a Bloomberg BNA-sponsored cocktail reception on Monday night at the brand-new, riverfront restaurant Pinstripes. The full conference convened Tuesday morning at the also brand-new, elegant Loews Chicago Hotel. Day 1 of P3 featured 20 concurrent sessions and plenty of opportunities for networking and socializing. Here's a recap of what was covered:
The opening session featured TED-style talks from Toby Brown, Chief Practice Officer, Akin Gump, and Amar Sarwal, Vice President and Chief Legal Strategist, Association of Corporate Counsel. Both speakers acknowledged the challenges the legal profession faces and that knowledge management is mission critical to the success and profitability of firms today. Both talks set the stage for the discussions that followed throughout day.
Day 1 presenters spoke about how the legal profession has transformed in the years following the recession, including the changes in client expectations and the subsequent impact on how we leverage data, bill for services and communicate both internally and externally. Also discussed were negative institutional barriers to change, including a troubled law school system and rigid state bar processes. Additionally, our profession has been late in adopting new technology and business trends; however, new rules and new organizational designs are beginning to flourish in today's marketplace. As legal pricing, practice improvement and marketing professionals, it was noted: We are in the perfect position to connect the dots and drive change.
Despite the challenges to the legal profession today, presenters throughout the day offered a number of positive solutions, including:
- New technology can help leverage data in ways that allow for more transparency and accuracy in pricing
- The use of a pricing specialist can positively impact profitability and create connective tissue within a firm – becoming a hub for marketing, finance, IT, practices and support staff
- New abilities in communication can be used internally and externally to create better efficiencies and richer client relationships, even across national borders
- We are now able to be incredibly detailed in our business development strategy and deliver good, solid information, not just data, at the right time and into the right hands
- As we move toward a world where unit pricing is more of an expectation, we need to have the tools to measure data and price in a transparent way that defines scope
- Firms should be more selective in the matters they chase, asking hard questions about business goals and what success looks like for both the firm and the client – profitability is not just about how busy you are
- Collaboration, internally within the firm and externally with clients, is critical to LPM
- Synchronized coding between project management systems and e-billing systems are needed to allow for much more efficiency and transparency
- Sharing data through score-carding and dashboards can be used to motivate partners and drive business development as well as compensation models
- Who defines value? The client defines value. Talk to the client. Create metrics. Standardize. Gather data.
- Clients are willing to pay a premium for cost certainty, predictability, and risk sharing - certainty is more important than price
- Measuring the value of legal services is part art and part science – value is in the eye of the beholder, but can also be backed up by data
Be sure to share your most important takeaway in the comments section below. Follow the #LMAP3 hashtag on Twitter and other social media channels for real-time takeaways. And stay tuned right here on Strategies+ for a recap of Day 2 education.