Resistance Continues But the Business of Law is Transforming

by JD Supra Perspectives

"Before you know it, what once seemed like crazy ideas will become the new normal." - Mary O’Carroll, head of legal operations, Google

The Resistance Movement

It has been said that change is the only constant in the world. Nagging realities in the legal marketplace continue to place pressure on law firms, of all sizes, to confront the demand for inevitable changes. 

The days of straight billable hours and traditional client-attorney relationships may be slipping away. A few of the pressures law firms tell us they feel from clients and the marketplace include having state of the art technologies, increasing the use of contract lawyers, corporate legal departments creating their own metrics to codify the cost of performing legal tasks, AI, knowledge management, more specific and customized delivery of legal services, and providing more staffing options. An increasing number of firms are incorporating big data analytics to efficiently reduce risks, cost and time needed to complete matters.

At the 2017 Legal Marketing Association Conference, one member of the general counsel panel stated, “Any law firm that tells me they can’t provide a fixed fee for a particular matter does not truly understand how their firm operates.”

Hard Fought Innovations Continue to Raise their Weary Heads

While there are pockets of innovation from some law firms, most are lagging behind according to the latest 2016 report from Altman Weil, “Law Firms in Transition” 

The pressure to change is the new reality as market demand for legal services has not returned to pre-recession levels. Managing partners and firm leadership may say they need to become more efficient but most have not made significant advances in how their firms deliver services. Many firms reported they have excess capacity but are having difficulty convincing partners they must change. In fact, the report states only 44% of firms have significantly changed their strategic approach to efficiency. The report continues asserting that 59% of law firms conveyed that they are not changing because clients haven’t asked for it. 

“Someone is talking to your clients. Are they listening?”

The obvious disconnect is that firms need to take on a proactive role finding out what changes clients would like. I refer to the adage, “Someone is talking to your clients. Are they listening?”

Corporate legal departments are not immune to boardroom scrutiny and pressure. Shouldn’t law firms take the leadership position in having these frank conversations with their clients? In this seemingly timeless piece written by William J Flannery some 15 years ago, “It’s the Client Stupid!” clients first is the clear message. It’s like the message in the story of the sign of the telltale heart – the demand just keeps growing louder and louder.

The Warriors Pursue

The problem of law firms not customizing service delivery for individual client needs increasingly perplexes in-house counsels. They often tell me during client feedback interviews they are stymied that few of their outside counsels have stepped up to the plate to work through the process of improving the delivery of legal services based on their individual company’s needs and requests. To this end, corporate legal department attorneys have formed a group, CLOC, to focus solely on this problem of legal operations beyond what the Association of Corporate Counsel has done. 

“The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (“CLOC”) is a non-profit organization consisting of legal operations professionals providing education, sharing best practices, networking, establishing a professional organization and community, and driving positive change across the corporate legal services ecosystem.  CLOC is the “go-to” organization for information about legal operations and connections to the best legal operations professionals in the business.” 

Mary O’Carroll, head of legal operations at Google, is a member of the Executive Leadership Team at CLOC. Mary purports, “We used to talk about being on the verge of change. We are no longer on the verge of anything. We have crossed over to the next stage and there's no denying it. We are remaking an entire industry together. Those who don't adapt will simply cease to exist.  Before you know it, what once seemed like crazy ideas will become the new normal.”

"Those who don't adapt will simply cease to exist."

At the end of the 2016 inaugural CLOC conference, Mary O’Carroll delivered the closing remarks. We know that better legal operations are in the works already. Here is a bit of what Mary had to say:

“Please do not recreate the wheel. Whether you need to think about establishing a diversity charter or implement esignatures, reach out to the CLOC community and leverage work that others have already done. And if you’ve just completed something great, let CLOC know and find time to share it with others. It’s the only way we’ll make progress as a group and profession. It’s good for all of us. So as I said, this education and sharing component continues to be a major focus for CLOC and we’re just getting started. We need to refine our plan on how we will deliver content and sessions with you all, so please do stay tuned and stay involved. This is exciting stuff!

“The third objective of the Institute was to bring the ecosystem together.  This Institute is different and unique from other conferences because it’s not just legal ops folks. This is completely intentional. We want to build bridges and break down silos. Ops directors cannot transform the future of how legal services are delivered by themselves! We need to be working side by side with our partners: the firms, the vendors, the technology providers, the law schools, etc.

“There is a big problem in the forward progress of this industry because of the historic silos within which we operate. There is a stupid perception that there is an us (in house teams) vs. them (the law firms).  As a result we’ve got corporate legal departments talking to each other, law firms talking to each other and trying to meet client needs, software providers sometimes playing in the space in the middle trying to meet conflicting demands, and then some disruptor on the sides trying to shake things up.  Again, I find this infuriatingly inefficient.  Instead of guessing what other parties want and assuming there is some kind of us vs. them, we need to be talking and collaborating.  We’re all in this together.  Better outcomes with less effort is good for everyone.”

Adam Stock, Chief Marketing Officer for large west coast real estate firm, Allen Matkins, is a thought leader in the area of creating better client services with a heavy emphasis on technology. He is currently programming software and developing strategies to deliver products and services based on client preferences and needs. Adam tells us, “The legal industry is ready for disruptions – the delivery of services is difficult for most established companies, but it is particularly difficult for law firms. Dependence upon the ‘billable hour’ has had a corrosive effect on innovation at law firms, because the model penalizes efficiencies and stymies the investments in more efficient models of delivering services.”

Big Firm – Small Firm: It’s the Same

Five years ago large firm refugee, Ernie (Will) Klatte, started his own boutique labor and employment law firm, Klatte Budensiek & Young-Agresti (KBY). The firm based its core principles around client relationships and service, being a substantive resource for firm clients and contacts, and forming a team of professionals who care more about the practice of law as a profession of service than the number of hours they bill. 

KBY has been successfully growing its practice with large and mid-size corporations by innovating distinctive alternative fee arrangements and service options providing its clients with custom service based on their needs.

“Different clients have different metrics by which they gauge performance..." 

Will feels that, “Different clients have different metrics by which they gauge performance. As a small firm, we have to be extremely adaptable to client’s legal operational needs. We are very transparent with our clients about the way we manage our engagements, and we are very receptive to new ideas to add more value to the client relationship, whether it be through new operational requests, alternative fee arrangements, new software, staffing, or sharing resources. As evidence of our commitment to continually improve legal operations, we have a paralegal dedicated to interfacing with clients on knowledge management issues and document management. Partnerships at large firms traditionally make less money being efficient. For those firms it’s primarily about billing and collecting by the hour. Our industry is swiftly moving past this traditional system.”

"...our approach includes frequent conversations with our partners to build their trust and belief that working with our analytics team produces great results with clients.”

Law firm Bryan Cave has been paying rapt attention to the changes taking place in terms of legal operations and how law firms must innovate in order to meet client needs and continue to flourish under this new order. According to Steve Sunshine, a member of the firm’s Management Committee, “We have spent years developing an approach to alternative fees that includes proprietary analytics software in combination with a team of professional analysts who work with our partners daily on staffing, pricing and project management. We enhance our approach by sharing the analysis with our clients. Of equal importance, our approach includes frequent conversations with our partners to build their trust and belief that working with our analytics team produces great results with clients.”  


The 2017 CLOC Institute closed on May 11.  According to leadership of the organization this second CLOC meeting moved the needle forward even more to a place of collaboration, sharing and transforming the future of legal services delivery. Leaders in CLOC are the first to admit that defining legal operations is still in its infancy but the definition is coming together. 

CLOC’s website defines legal operations as a “multi-disciplinary function that optimizes legal services delivery to a business or government entity.” They define 12 areas of service: 

  • Strategic planning
  • Financial management
  • Vendor management
  • Data analytics
  • Technology support
  • Alternative support models
  • Knowledge management
  • Communications
  • Growth and development
  • Global data governance/records management
  • Litigation support
  • Cross functional alignment

It seems as though the squeaky wheel is getting the grease. Those law firms that have taken on process improvement of the legal operations in their clients and targeted marketplace are having an advantage as we watch law firm traditional services morph. 2017 could become the tipping point year in which a significant number or Big Law and smaller firms begin to accept that change is inevitable and that the time may be now.


[Merry Neitlich is managing partner of EM Consultants located in Irvine, CA. She can be reached at or 949-260- 0936.]

Written by:

JD Supra Perspectives

JD Supra Perspectives on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
- hide

JD Supra Privacy Policy

Updated: May 25, 2018:

JD Supra is a legal publishing service that connects experts and their content with broader audiences of professionals, journalists and associations.

This Privacy Policy describes how JD Supra, LLC ("JD Supra" or "we," "us," or "our") collects, uses and shares personal data collected from visitors to our website (located at (our "Website") who view only publicly-available content as well as subscribers to our services (such as our email digests or author tools)(our "Services"). By using our Website and registering for one of our Services, you are agreeing to the terms of this Privacy Policy.

Please note that if you subscribe to one of our Services, you can make choices about how we collect, use and share your information through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard (available if you are logged into your JD Supra account).

Collection of Information

Registration Information. When you register with JD Supra for our Website and Services, either as an author or as a subscriber, you will be asked to provide identifying information to create your JD Supra account ("Registration Data"), such as your:

  • Email
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Company Name
  • Company Industry
  • Title
  • Country

Other Information: We also collect other information you may voluntarily provide. This may include content you provide for publication. We may also receive your communications with others through our Website and Services (such as contacting an author through our Website) or communications directly with us (such as through email, feedback or other forms or social media). If you are a subscribed user, we will also collect your user preferences, such as the types of articles you would like to read.

Information from third parties (such as, from your employer or LinkedIn): We may also receive information about you from third party sources. For example, your employer may provide your information to us, such as in connection with an article submitted by your employer for publication. If you choose to use LinkedIn to subscribe to our Website and Services, we also collect information related to your LinkedIn account and profile.

Your interactions with our Website and Services: As is true of most websites, we gather certain information automatically. This information includes IP addresses, browser type, Internet service provider (ISP), referring/exit pages, operating system, date/time stamp and clickstream data. We use this information to analyze trends, to administer the Website and our Services, to improve the content and performance of our Website and Services, and to track users' movements around the site. We may also link this automatically-collected data to personal information, for example, to inform authors about who has read their articles. Some of this data is collected through information sent by your web browser. We also use cookies and other tracking technologies to collect this information. To learn more about cookies and other tracking technologies that JD Supra may use on our Website and Services please see our "Cookies Guide" page.

How do we use this information?

We use the information and data we collect principally in order to provide our Website and Services. More specifically, we may use your personal information to:

  • Operate our Website and Services and publish content;
  • Distribute content to you in accordance with your preferences as well as to provide other notifications to you (for example, updates about our policies and terms);
  • Measure readership and usage of the Website and Services;
  • Communicate with you regarding your questions and requests;
  • Authenticate users and to provide for the safety and security of our Website and Services;
  • Conduct research and similar activities to improve our Website and Services; and
  • Comply with our legal and regulatory responsibilities and to enforce our rights.

How is your information shared?

  • Content and other public information (such as an author profile) is shared on our Website and Services, including via email digests and social media feeds, and is accessible to the general public.
  • If you choose to use our Website and Services to communicate directly with a company or individual, such communication may be shared accordingly.
  • Readership information is provided to publishing law firms and authors of content to give them insight into their readership and to help them to improve their content.
  • Our Website may offer you the opportunity to share information through our Website, such as through Facebook's "Like" or Twitter's "Tweet" button. We offer this functionality to help generate interest in our Website and content and to permit you to recommend content to your contacts. You should be aware that sharing through such functionality may result in information being collected by the applicable social media network and possibly being made publicly available (for example, through a search engine). Any such information collection would be subject to such third party social media network's privacy policy.
  • Your information may also be shared to parties who support our business, such as professional advisors as well as web-hosting providers, analytics providers and other information technology providers.
  • Any court, governmental authority, law enforcement agency or other third party where we believe disclosure is necessary to comply with a legal or regulatory obligation, or otherwise to protect our rights, the rights of any third party or individuals' personal safety, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or safety issues.
  • To our affiliated entities and in connection with the sale, assignment or other transfer of our company or our business.

How We Protect Your Information

JD Supra takes reasonable and appropriate precautions to insure that user information is protected from loss, misuse and unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration and destruction. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. You should keep in mind that no Internet transmission is ever 100% secure or error-free. Where you use log-in credentials (usernames, passwords) on our Website, please remember that it is your responsibility to safeguard them. If you believe that your log-in credentials have been compromised, please contact us at

Children's Information

Our Website and Services are not directed at children under the age of 16 and we do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 16 through our Website and/or Services. If you have reason to believe that a child under the age of 16 has provided personal information to us, please contact us, and we will endeavor to delete that information from our databases.

Links to Other Websites

Our Website and Services may contain links to other websites. The operators of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using our Website or Services and click a link to another site, you will leave our Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We are not responsible for the data collection and use practices of such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of our Website and Services and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Information for EU and Swiss Residents

JD Supra's principal place of business is in the United States. By subscribing to our website, you expressly consent to your information being processed in the United States.

  • Our Legal Basis for Processing: Generally, we rely on our legitimate interests in order to process your personal information. For example, we rely on this legal ground if we use your personal information to manage your Registration Data and administer our relationship with you; to deliver our Website and Services; understand and improve our Website and Services; report reader analytics to our authors; to personalize your experience on our Website and Services; and where necessary to protect or defend our or another's rights or property, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security, safety or privacy issues. Please see Article 6(1)(f) of the E.U. General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR") In addition, there may be other situations where other grounds for processing may exist, such as where processing is a result of legal requirements (GDPR Article 6(1)(c)) or for reasons of public interest (GDPR Article 6(1)(e)). Please see the "Your Rights" section of this Privacy Policy immediately below for more information about how you may request that we limit or refrain from processing your personal information.
  • Your Rights
    • Right of Access/Portability: You can ask to review details about the information we hold about you and how that information has been used and disclosed. Note that we may request to verify your identification before fulfilling your request. You can also request that your personal information is provided to you in a commonly used electronic format so that you can share it with other organizations.
    • Right to Correct Information: You may ask that we make corrections to any information we hold, if you believe such correction to be necessary.
    • Right to Restrict Our Processing or Erasure of Information: You also have the right in certain circumstances to ask us to restrict processing of your personal information or to erase your personal information. Where you have consented to our use of your personal information, you can withdraw your consent at any time.

You can make a request to exercise any of these rights by emailing us at or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

You can also manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard.

We will make all practical efforts to respect your wishes. There may be times, however, where we are not able to fulfill your request, for example, if applicable law prohibits our compliance. Please note that JD Supra does not use "automatic decision making" or "profiling" as those terms are defined in the GDPR.

  • Timeframe for retaining your personal information: We will retain your personal information in a form that identifies you only for as long as it serves the purpose(s) for which it was initially collected as stated in this Privacy Policy, or subsequently authorized. We may continue processing your personal information for longer periods, but only for the time and to the extent such processing reasonably serves the purposes of archiving in the public interest, journalism, literature and art, scientific or historical research and statistical analysis, and subject to the protection of this Privacy Policy. For example, if you are an author, your personal information may continue to be published in connection with your article indefinitely. When we have no ongoing legitimate business need to process your personal information, we will either delete or anonymize it, or, if this is not possible (for example, because your personal information has been stored in backup archives), then we will securely store your personal information and isolate it from any further processing until deletion is possible.
  • Onward Transfer to Third Parties: As noted in the "How We Share Your Data" Section above, JD Supra may share your information with third parties. When JD Supra discloses your personal information to third parties, we have ensured that such third parties have either certified under the EU-U.S. or Swiss Privacy Shield Framework and will process all personal data received from EU member states/Switzerland in reliance on the applicable Privacy Shield Framework or that they have been subjected to strict contractual provisions in their contract with us to guarantee an adequate level of data protection for your data.

California Privacy Rights

Pursuant to Section 1798.83 of the California Civil Code, our customers who are California residents have the right to request certain information regarding our disclosure of personal information to third parties for their direct marketing purposes.

You can make a request for this information by emailing us at or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

Some browsers have incorporated a Do Not Track (DNT) feature. These features, when turned on, send a signal that you prefer that the website you are visiting not collect and use data regarding your online searching and browsing activities. As there is not yet a common understanding on how to interpret the DNT signal, we currently do not respond to DNT signals on our site.

Access/Correct/Update/Delete Personal Information

For non-EU/Swiss residents, if you would like to know what personal information we have about you, you can send an e-mail to We will be in contact with you (by mail or otherwise) to verify your identity and provide you the information you request. We will respond within 30 days to your request for access to your personal information. In some cases, we may not be able to remove your personal information, in which case we will let you know if we are unable to do so and why. If you would like to correct or update your personal information, you can manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard. If you would like to delete your account or remove your information from our Website and Services, send an e-mail to

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Privacy Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our Privacy Policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use our Website and Services following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, the practices of this site, your dealings with our Website or Services, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

JD Supra Cookie Guide

As with many websites, JD Supra's website (located at (our "Website") and our services (such as our email article digests)(our "Services") use a standard technology called a "cookie" and other similar technologies (such as, pixels and web beacons), which are small data files that are transferred to your computer when you use our Website and Services. These technologies automatically identify your browser whenever you interact with our Website and Services.

How We Use Cookies and Other Tracking Technologies

We use cookies and other tracking technologies to:

  1. Improve the user experience on our Website and Services;
  2. Store the authorization token that users receive when they login to the private areas of our Website. This token is specific to a user's login session and requires a valid username and password to obtain. It is required to access the user's profile information, subscriptions, and analytics;
  3. Track anonymous site usage; and
  4. Permit connectivity with social media networks to permit content sharing.

There are different types of cookies and other technologies used our Website, notably:

  • "Session cookies" - These cookies only last as long as your online session, and disappear from your computer or device when you close your browser (like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Safari).
  • "Persistent cookies" - These cookies stay on your computer or device after your browser has been closed and last for a time specified in the cookie. We use persistent cookies when we need to know who you are for more than one browsing session. For example, we use them to remember your preferences for the next time you visit.
  • "Web Beacons/Pixels" - Some of our web pages and emails may also contain small electronic images known as web beacons, clear GIFs or single-pixel GIFs. These images are placed on a web page or email and typically work in conjunction with cookies to collect data. We use these images to identify our users and user behavior, such as counting the number of users who have visited a web page or acted upon one of our email digests.

JD Supra Cookies. We place our own cookies on your computer to track certain information about you while you are using our Website and Services. For example, we place a session cookie on your computer each time you visit our Website. We use these cookies to allow you to log-in to your subscriber account. In addition, through these cookies we are able to collect information about how you use the Website, including what browser you may be using, your IP address, and the URL address you came from upon visiting our Website and the URL you next visit (even if those URLs are not on our Website). We also utilize email web beacons to monitor whether our emails are being delivered and read. We also use these tools to help deliver reader analytics to our authors to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

Analytics/Performance Cookies. JD Supra also uses the following analytic tools to help us analyze the performance of our Website and Services as well as how visitors use our Website and Services:

  • HubSpot - For more information about HubSpot cookies, please visit
  • New Relic - For more information on New Relic cookies, please visit
  • Google Analytics - For more information on Google Analytics cookies, visit To opt-out of being tracked by Google Analytics across all websites visit This will allow you to download and install a Google Analytics cookie-free web browser.

Facebook, Twitter and other Social Network Cookies. Our content pages allow you to share content appearing on our Website and Services to your social media accounts through the "Like," "Tweet," or similar buttons displayed on such pages. To accomplish this Service, we embed code that such third party social networks provide and that we do not control. These buttons know that you are logged in to your social network account and therefore such social networks could also know that you are viewing the JD Supra Website.

Controlling and Deleting Cookies

If you would like to change how a browser uses cookies, including blocking or deleting cookies from the JD Supra Website and Services you can do so by changing the settings in your web browser. To control cookies, most browsers allow you to either accept or reject all cookies, only accept certain types of cookies, or prompt you every time a site wishes to save a cookie. It's also easy to delete cookies that are already saved on your device by a browser.

The processes for controlling and deleting cookies vary depending on which browser you use. To find out how to do so with a particular browser, you can use your browser's "Help" function or alternatively, you can visit which explains, step-by-step, how to control and delete cookies in most browsers.

Updates to This Policy

We may update this cookie policy and our Privacy Policy from time-to-time, particularly as technology changes. You can always check this page for the latest version. We may also notify you of changes to our privacy policy by email.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about how we use cookies and other tracking technologies, please contact us at:

- hide

This website uses cookies to improve user experience, track anonymous site usage, store authorization tokens and permit sharing on social media networks. By continuing to browse this website you accept the use of cookies. Click here to read more about how we use cookies.