Welcome to The Dialogue

The Dialogue provides a forum for those invested in BigLaw firms to add their voices to the remaking conversation.

We encourage lawyers and others with a stake in the profession: clients, partners, and leaders of BigLaw firms, NewLaw participants, academics, law students, analysts, commentators, and others to join in.

There are no right or wrong views, diversity and differences are crucial to imagining the future.

Readers are invited to contribute their posts (subject to curation)  and comments.

Contact me at george.beaton@beatonglobal.com or call me +61 418 325 351.

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Why the economics of free agency should worry partners

Some years ago, during a conference of BigLaw leaders in Chicago, I came to understand why the economics of free agency should worry partners in BigLaw firms. Until then I had not paid full attention to the free agent phenomenon.

David Parnell opens his book on The Failing Law Firm with an exposition of the adverse impact of free agents on that American religion, baseball. With David Goener, I updated the analysis of why law firms fail in this October 2017 post.

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Remaking the news of the week: Episode 1

Remaking the news of the week is a new feature on The Dialogue. Each week I will write circa 100 words why the chosen item is, in my opinion, newsworthy in a Remaking Law Firms context.

Appropriately Remaking the news of the week kicks off citing Bob Ambrogi‘s report in Above the Law on three BigLaw firms that are variously pioneering and supporting lawtech startups.

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From our new contributor, Jae Um: The Empire Strikes Back

With a fresh emoji-backed approach, Jae Um makes her first contribution to The Dialogue, The Empire Strikes Back 💥and 2017 Is (Mostly) a 🎉Win 🎉for Am Law 100. Jae says of herself, “I’m generally on a mission to make things make sense and also sparkle. My current tour of duty is data + design to inform strategy in legal markets“. Welcome Jae.

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Insights from the latest buying legal services survey

Written by Dr. Silvia Hodges Silverstein – Executive Director of the Buying Legal Council – today’s post is based on key insights from the latest buying legal services survey [1]. In the spirit of Jeff Carr’s recent letter reproduced on The Dialogue to outside counsel on delivering value with integrity, Silvia uses two emails, one from a CFO to the Legal Department, and the other from the CMO of a major law firm on the panel to the Head of the Corporate Practice.

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New Book: What’s Your Digital Business Model?

Today I am unabashedly recommending What’s Your Digital Business Model?, a new book by Peter Weill and Stephanie Woerner. Chairman and Senior Research Scientist at MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research, Peter is regarded as the leading researcher and thinker in this space – and he is also my friend and former colleague at Melbourne Business School.

Watch the video, buy What’s Your Digital Business Model and accelerate your organization’s digital journey.

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Small firms: Take your size and own it

At the end of March, George Beaton posted an article in his Remaking Law Firms blog entitled ‘Mid-market law firm brouhaha’ in which he challenges the automatic attribution of law firm woes outside the BigLaw firmament. George references my previous article on ‘The Strength of Small Law Firms’ and advocates for a move away from the “small equals struggling” narrative. “To my knowledge”, he says, “there isn’t a skerrick of systematic evidence that all/most clients of these mid-market firms are saying “It’s desirable that your services are delivered by you in a firm with a bigger/international footprint/greater scale/wider range of services”.

Beaton argues that the “small-equals-struggling” narrative attributes certain challenges to the mid-market, which are, in fact, challenges faced by all law firms. In this scenario, he argues, it’s not the size of the firm that matters but the way it delivers its services.

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De-equitization is the elephant in the room in BigLaw’s profit distribution

The annual ritual of the release of the Am Law 100 financial results is playing again. In 1979 Steven Brill launched American Lawyer and brilliantly used the Am Law 100 league table as a marketing tool. In doing so Steven allowed elephants into the room. In this post, I (re)make a few comments on the merits and dangers of league tables, making the point that de-equitization is the elephant in the room in BigLaw’s profit distribution.
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