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No matter how large, how famous, or how successful your law firm has been in the past...

...If you want to increase the chances of your law firm still being in business ten years from now, you must have a Chief Innovation Officer.

Sorry, there are no exceptions.

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A recurring theme of this blog has been that smaller law firms have much less tolerance for poor management. The loss of just a few clients or even one partner can have a disproportionately large impact than in a larger firm.

One of the biggest risks to a small law firm -- and one that is frequently overlooked or, in some partnerships, deliberately ignored -- is its partner compensation system.

By Acabashi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Although rapidly-changing, intensely-competitive market dynamics will continue to shape the strategic context in which most law firms will operate in 2018, the new year is also proving to be internally challenging, especially for small and midsize firms.

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In most countries, women significantly outnumber men in law schools and as associates in law firms. Yet men continue to outnumber women -- often by substantial margins -- in most law firm partnerships and similar senior positions.

A new report by the Legal Policy and Research Unit of the International Bar Association, released today, examines this phenomenon and the steps that law firms should take to respond to this significant loss of legal talent and business leadership. Click here to download Women in Commercial Legal Practice,

It should be mandatory reading in every law firm.

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For most firms, a 1-to-4 leverage ratio has long been considered to indicate a desirable level of profitability, while also being manageable.

What will happen when artificial intelligence systems give law firms the potential to generate leverage of 1-to-400?

That's right: a hundred-fold increase in lawyer productivity.

It is not as far-fetched or as far-off as you might think.



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Law firm leaders and planners -- indeed, all lawyers -- are right to be concerned about the future of the legal profession. We can expect significant changes, powered by increasingly sophisticated client expectations and the more powerful service delivery capabilities of advanced technology, to redefine what a "law firm" will look like and how it will operate in the 2020s...

...which are only three years away.

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Two of the biggest challenges for the Walker Clark "futures practice" are to break down the paradigms that prevent our clients from seeing the future -- and sometimes even today -- clearly, and to stimulate genuinely innovative responses.

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Someday will most of the "lawyers" in law firms be robots?

This question is not as theoretical, nor as far in the future, as most lawyers think.

I think that the answer is "yes."

And "someday" is a lot sooner than most of us realize.

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What would you do if you suspected that one of your colleagues was chronically depressed or was abusing alcohol or drugs?

Unfortunately, most small and midsize law firms can't answer this question.

Some don't even want to think about it.