By Tami Schiller
After reading the 2013 Report on the State of the Legal Market by The Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at the Georgetown University Law Center and Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor, I made a vow to stop using the term "the new normal." Change has become normalized. We must accept it and find ways to leverage it.
We are in the 5th year of the economic downtown that brought changes to the legal profession that included downsizing, new partnership models, globalization and reductions to non-legal staff. Technology has leapt forward with the rapid adoption of the smartphone and tablet devices. Did you realize that the first iPhone was only released on June 29, 2007? The amount of information out there in the world for public consumption has exploded.
The report suggests that law firms must become flexible to tailor staffing, technology, workflow and pricing to meet a client's particular situation. In a legal environment where firms with equity partners, non-equity partners, associates, contract attorneys, part-time attorneys, secretaries and paralegals who is going to be doing the work? Will firms become agile enough to mix and match the right mix of legal professionals on the fly to respond to client's new expectations?
The study wasn't the only article that I read the last two weeks related to changes. The Legal Intelligencer reported that Blank Rome is about to dramatically revamp its secretarial program.
It is an interesting approach. They are creating three different offerings of secretarial support. Associates who do not rely on a secretary for traditional functions will use a pool of secretaries who will be part of an Associate Resource Center. This group will be expected to have the highest level of tech skills. Practice groups like Intellectual Property that require specialized knowledge will have their own pool of secretaries and the third group will represent the more traditional secretary model supporting partners who require dedicated support.
It's something I'll be watching. I think it is an interesting approach for addressing the changing work and support needs rather than just increase ratios by adding more assigned attorneys to a secretary.
What about your firm? Any interesting approaches on how to deal with
the new normal?