My peer and colleague, Leigh Dance, just posted this article in the LME group:

Turf war: Law firm bosses see Big Four as ‘threat’ as they aggressively expand into legal sector.

I’m leaving it in big, bold print because it is one of the most important things you can read today.

This is a pivotal moment in the legal industry, and I can already hear the lawyers doing what they were trained to do and do best: pick away at the argument and why it doesn’t or won’t apply to them:

Why is it important? We don’t have offices in London.

My clients don’t care about AI.

Well, if that’s the future, I’m outta here. 

How’s this for a response:

Cornelius Grossmann, Ernst & Young’s global law leader, said in a press release that the acquisition “underlines the position of EY as a leading disruptor of legal services.” EY says the company will help it cut the costs of routine legal activities.

EY’s global legal leader Cornelius Grossman said: “We have a plan for the next five years where we will aggressively grow the legal business.”

“The Big Four will have a very large impact on the mid market. They have got such a strong client base and they are so good at integrating business services into their offering,” he said.

Ernst & Young buys Riverview Law to expand its managed legal services business

Yeah. Read that one too.

Oh, and if you don’t think EY’s strategy is to come after your business, wherever your business is … guess again:

I know. You’re not on Twitter because Twitter is stupid. Yeah, go read the comments.

What’s your strategy?

When strategic planning, we often times lead you through a SWOT analysis. Strengths. Weaknesses. Opportunities. Threats. Have you added “legal AI technology companies” to your list of competitors? I’ll tell you this, it’s your greatest weakness, Your biggest threat. And your greatest opportunity.

Right now, however, AI is EY’s strength, and I assure you, they have you on their target list as their greatest opportunity.

Leadership

Yeah, I’m bringing it back around to my new favorite subject. The leaders in legal need to wake up.

I know your firm was built on relationships, but this isn’t 1975. We’ve come a long way, baby, and it’s time to get serious about what it means to be a lawyer in 2018.

Better yet, what will it mean to be a lawyer in 2028? Is our ecosystem (law school, bar associations, law firm, clients) prepared for the challenges ahead?

Is the ABA, the largest national trade association for lawyers, and the biggest inhibitor of innovation for lawyers, going to step up or step aside? California is doing its best to break free. But these things take time, and do we, as an industry, have the time?

What about the law schools? When will they start to realize that they are churning out the wrong product for our times? These young men and women are coming out of law school ill-prepared for the business they face, and heavily in debt.

And, my fellow legal industry professionals, are you prepared to guide and lead. Or have you been fully assimilated into the culture of doing things the same because they’ve always been done that way?

Personally, I’m excited. But I have a high comfort with conflict, which is the exact opposite of the lawyer personality.

Are you prepared?

So what’s your plan? Are you going to go about “business as usual?” Are you going to take note, pick it apart, and dismiss the changes that are happening now all around you? Or are you going to step up and lead?

I know what I’m doing. I’m taking my 20 years of legal industry experience, adding a new layer of education by embarking on an intensive certification program in leadership coaching, and I’m going to face this head-on.

I foresee a bumpy road for law firms over the course of the next decade as they struggle and fight against what has already happened. Change.

The AmLaw 100 will not look the same at the end. I’m preparing myself to help guide my firm’s leaders through it. What are you doing?

 

 

  • Yes, the Big Four have a massive client inventory, which translates to a massive sales prospect inventory. I don’t think most lawyers can comprehend the actual scale of B4 market penetration and client trust.

    Plus, for decades they’ve been operating really effective alumni programs, where they make sure that anyone who leaves or doesn’t make partner gets a great job. Their alums are very loyal as a result. Many years ago, my brother didn’t make partner at PwC. For the ensuing year, his paid job was finding his next job. He kept his office and secretary, and externally perceived status. When he became CFO at The Carnegie, who do you think he hired?

    Law firms, by contrast, tend to marginalize or even ostracize their up-or-out lawyers, alienating them and in so doing manufacturing sales obstacles within whatever company they subsequently join.

    All that aside, IMO, the biggest threat from B4 is their huge investments in Marketing, and BD training. Each of them spends more on training each year than most law firms’ top-line gross revenue.