First steps in launching new practice models in #BigLaw firms

First steps in launching new practice models in #BigLaw firms sees Josh Kubicki return to Dialogue with an introduction to Bold Duck Studio. I don’t usually publish anything smacking of promotion, but First steps in launching new practice models in #BigLaw firms is dead-centre about helping traditional #BigLaw business model firms remake themselves. Don’t miss Josh’s message – and may I suggest spread the word about Bold Duck Studio.

What’s the difference between a hunch and execution? A whole heck of a lot of work. But if you can get the right work done, this is what you can achieve. Tackling 700+ matters a year while increasing quality and profits. Capturing $20 million in annual revenue that was previously going to outside providers. Winning all US national work from one of the largest retail chains in the world. Reducing costs by 40% allowing for fee reduction and profit increase. Reducing cycle time by 20% freeing up resources and making the client happier. Reenergizing your team as they get involved with designing a future rather than clinging to a dwindling status quo. These are all examples of actual outcomes that have been created by pushing forward with designing and delivering new service and business models within BigLaw. I know because I, and my partner, helped make these things happen. Like, for real.

There is a growing market for new models and it is not being ignored by BigLaw. A related figure on this point comes from a 2017 Thomson Reuters and Adam Smith, Esq. survey. They stated that the market for alternative legal service providers has been pegged to reach $55B by 2025. If you consider new models that are within BigLaw (like the ones we have built with partners) or could be built, that figure will grow significantly. Just last week, we had a conversation with a practice leader in one of the largest firms in the world. He was sharing his insight with us about his practice and an immense opportunity he sees to grow market share. While he understands that what the firm is doing today will not lead to success in capturing that market in any exponential way, he is a bit challenged to understand just what needs to be done to execute on this hunch. We have these conversations often and based on our in-the-trenches experiences, we know that three things have to happen in order to get moving on this.

  1. The partner must come to realize that he has biases and gaps in his market knowledge as well as his understanding of what business rigor will need to be applied to test his idea, make it sound, design a new model, and then launch and integrate it into the firm’s ecosystem. Most partners cannot get past this point in the process.
  2. We need market sizing based on evidence. I cannot tell you how many times a partner has assured me and firm leadership that there is a huge growth market. We later learn (after doing the necessary work) that indeed it is much smaller, more difficult to reach, or otherwise inaccessible. If we do the right work and it is indeed promising, then we will have a more defensible (and ideally energizing) story to share with leadership and our partners.
  3. If there is a legitimate market to pursue, we need to select the most promising work product/service offering that he currently provides and blueprint its current workflow processes and map the client experience. This will give us a clear sense of the opportunity for change in the model, where profit levers may be, where cost levers may be, and otherwise serve as a foundation to re-engineer a new service model from. This is usually a sobering moment for the partner and leadership as the work to be done becomes measurable. The good news is that by sizing the market, we can develop a forecasted ROI, timeline, total cost of ownership/investment, and create a business case that can be communicated effectively.

Assuming we execute on the above and that leadership is on board, we can then move to designing and building the new model. This is where the real work begins but it is also where momentum and excitement build as everyone experiences how an idea becomes a reality.

We love it when a partner reaches out to us full of energy, optimism, and confidence that their idea is awesome and going to work so easily. We truly do and do not judge or patronize concerning their lack of “how to get off go.” Seeing a seasoned practitioner get amped up about their business is always energizing. And we want more of them to do this (obviously), but we caution practice leaders and partners alike that what looks or sounds like a great idea might be a colossal waste of time. Please do not spend valuable resources (people’s time, political capital, leadership’s patience, and so on) unless you have an evidence-based business vision and a plan of action. Having these things is like a shot of adrenaline for you and your firm in creating something new that will survive and thrive, and perhaps add to that $55B figure mentioned above.

If you want to learn more about getting your practice group up to speed with opportunities in their practices and perhaps spark new opportunities, check out our Practice Group Power-Up.


Josh Kubicki is an award-winning legal industry leader and intrapreneur who has recently co-founded, the first business design studio for #BigLaw with his co-founder and legal industry pioneer, Kim Craig

My relationship with Josh goes back to February 6, 2014 when he invited me to founders/investors meet-up in NYC on the eve of the Reinvent Law conference.


The Fundamental First Steps in Launching New Practice Models in Law Firms was first published on August 15, 2018 on Medium and is re-posted here with Joshua’s kind permission.

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