Last Year's Agenda

May 26, 2021

10:45AM – 11:00AM EDT

Welcome/Opening Remarks – Conference Chair

Tom Jones, CEO/Founder,

Iridium Technology

11:00AM – 11:45AM EDT

KEYNOTE: Organizational Culture and Strategic Alignment

Every organization, like it or not, has its own culture that has developed over time.  Culture not only gives meaning to or provides context for the work that we do and the products/services that we create and offer. But your culture may also determine your survival. It is our social capital and an asset to be carefully nurtured. Over the past 25 years, Daniel Denison has advanced the field of Organizational Development and is one of its leading scholars, practitioners and teachers.  His work has made many key contributions to the understanding of organizational culture and its relationship to bottom-line business success.  In this keynote segment, Mr. Denison will delve into the relationship between organizational culture and business performance metrics such as profitability, growth, customer satisfaction, and innovation. 

 

Daniel R. Denison, Chairman & Founding Partner,

Denison Consulting, Professor Emeritus, IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland, and former Professor, University of Michigan Business School

11:45AM – 12:00PM EDT
Break

12:00PM – 12:45PM EDT

PANEL DISCUSSION: Building a “Profit-Oriented Culture”

While some law firms focus on the "why" or "if" questions related to incorporating the measurement of profit, other firms have turned their attention to "how" to incorporate profitability as a factor in their respective pricing and compensation formulas. In this discussion, we will focus on the daunting process of shifting from a traditional production-oriented culture to one where profit isn't just recognized, but influences strategic decisions regarding matter staffing and pricing, resource allocation, hiring and expansion – as well as how law firm leaders can best navigate this thorny terrain and secure buy-in by skeptical partners.

 

Tanvir Rahman, Chief of Planning and Analytics,  
McDermott Will & Emery 

 

Patrick J. Whalen, Firm Chair,
Spencer Fane LLP

 

Robert A. Romanoff, Chairman and Managing Partner,

Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC

 

Moderator:

Patrick McKenna,

McKenna Associates, Inc 

12:45PM – 1:15PM EDT
Networking Lunch in the Virtual Networking Lobby

Don’t Miss Out! Turn on your camera and join us in the Virtual Lobby for that face-to-face networking experience we’ve all been missing. Connecting with stakeholders has never been easier - click on an open seat, say hello to familiar faces, and take part lively discussions around incorporating, measuring, and reporting profitability in your firm. We’ll see you in the lobby!

1:15PM – 2:00PM EDT

CASE STUDY: Assessing Innovation Maturity to Identify and Tackle Business of Law Issues "Of First Impression" with Clients

Legal departments (and law firms) have achieved varying levels of innovation maturity, some have no formal innovation mandate whereas others have project portfolios and are striving for excellence. It follows that the types of conversations and new solutions that interest a client depend on where they are on that curve. A business of law issue "of first impression" for one client might be old hat to another, or we may need to stretch ourselves to meet the sophistication of a client, but in either case we must understand that dynamic to find the best fit and opportunities for new types of services, new solutions, and new value.  At Eversheds Sutherland, we have been using this framework to effectively partner with clients to define business of law challenges and work creatively to co-develop innovative solutions.  In this case study, Anusia Gillespie, the Co-Head of Innovation (US) at Eversheds Sutherland, will provide examples of how her firm is working collaboratively with clients to identify--and solve--business of law issues.

 

Anusia Gillespie, Vice President, Solutions Lead

UnitedLex 

2:00PM – 2:15PM EDT
Break

2:15PM – 3:00PM EDT

PANEL DISCUSSION: How COVID-19 Changed our Firm – for the Better!

COVID-19 struck in early 2020. Its effects massively disrupted law firms’ back-office processes and complicated client interactions. Yet, some firms rose to the challenge. They quickly adapted to a continually changing and unpredictable business environment to prove their resilience. Hear from law firm leaders whose firms didn’t just survive but thrived during the pandemic to finish a precarious 2020 with rock-solid results. Learn how they used the systemic changes forced upon them to incorporate cost-saving measures and process efficiencies that will continue to improve firm performance for years to come. Discover strategies that enabled firms to transform the pandemic into an opportunity to strengthen operations and profitability and see how you can do the same.

 

Michelle Ferrara, Chief Financial Officer,
Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard P.C.

 

Howard P. Janis, ALPP, Chief Operating Officer,
Nexsen Pruet, LLC

 

Robert McGowan, Chief Operating and Finance Officer
Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC 

 

Moderator:

Tom Jones, CEO/Founder,

Iridium Technology, LLC

3:00PM – 3:15PM EDT
Break

3:15PM – 4:00PM EDT

Fundamentals of Law Firm Profitability: Strategic Implications for a Post-COVID World

This (Day One) closing segment will provide a refresher on the five primary drivers of law firm profitability and will then go on to address the strategic implications of profit drivers for client relationships, practice group management, and partner compensation.  Because profitability metrics have become increasingly visible (at least among the larger firms), they have also become a key factor in people management within law firms, particularly with respect to a firm’s ability to retain key contributors and recruit talented people at all levels.  In a post-COVID world it will become increasingly critical that firms target the ‘right kinds of clients,’ who will derive real value from the capabilities of the firm. This of course necessitates that firms understand the cost and value of aligning staff with client needs and expectations -- employing the proper skills and people to work on behalf of the firm’s clients on any given matter. 

 

John Sterling, Chief Strategy and Practice Development Officer,
Chapman and Cutler LLP

4:00PM – 4:15PM EDT

Closing Remarks – Conference Chair

Tom Jones, CEO/Founder,

Iridium Technology

4:15PM – 5:00PM ET
Virtual Networking Reception

Don’t Miss Out! Turn on your camera and join us in the Virtual Lobby for that face-to-face networking experience we’ve all been missing. Connecting with stakeholders has never been easier - click on an open seat, say hello to familiar faces, and take part lively discussions around incorporating, measuring, and reporting profitability in your firm. We’ll see you in the lobby! 

May 27, 2021

10:45AM – 11:00AM EDT

Welcome/Opening Remarks – Conference Chair

Tom Jones, CEO/Founder,

Iridium Technology

11:00AM – 11:45AM EDT

Law Firm Profitability: A Myth or a Mindset? Unwinding the Performance, Compensation and Profitability Equation

Profitability is typically top of mind when it comes to nearly all decisions that business leaders make. But when it comes to law firm profitability, there seems to be some aversion to logical business thinking.  Perhaps to some degree law firms are victims of their own success—historically awash in profit, to the extent that profitability reporting becomes something of a malleable or mythical process. While we can certainly agree to what the levers of profitability entail, inevitably the equation gets distorted, whether this is due to compensation anomalies, allocation of overhead costs, or discounts and deviations from the firm’s set rates. But profitability matters and law firms need to know how to run a business responsibly, rewarding partners on the basis of their contributions and outcomes.  In this lively discussion, we will attempt to unwind the performance, compensation and profitability equation by shining a light on its far-reaching implications, impacting client service, firm culture and of course the financial health of the enterprise.

 

Toby Brown, Chief Practice Management Officer,

Perkins Coie LLP

 

Jill Nelson, Senior Director, Product & Business Management, OnePlace Operations & Finance

Intapp

11:45AM – 12:00PM EDT
Break

12:00PM – 12:45PM EDT

PANEL DISCUSSION: The Ideal Profitability Program—Modelled-Out, Live!

Imagine if you could design the perfect profitability program, what would it look like, what would you do, and how would it improve your firm? In this lively session we will approach measurement, reporting, integration into the firm's partnership and compensation structure, and the impact on client relationships with 3 of the leaders in the legal industry, all of whom have seen this from the inside of a variety of different firms.

 

Linda Novosel, Chief Innovation and Value Officer,

Blank Rome LLP

 

Nicole Beck, Senior Manager of Strategic Pricing and Client Strategy,

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC

 

Vince Cordo, Chief Client Development and Relationship Officer,

Holland & Knight

 

Moderator:

Tom Baldwin, Partner

Fireman & Company

12:45PM – 1:15PM EDT
Networking Lunch in the Virtual Networking Lobby

Don’t Miss Out! Turn on your camera and join us in the Virtual Lobby for that face-to-face networking experience we’ve all been missing. Connecting with stakeholders has never been easier - click on an open seat, say hello to familiar faces, and take part lively discussions around incorporating, measuring, and reporting profitability in your firm. We’ll see you in the lobby!

1:15PM – 2:00PM EDT

PANEL DISCUSSION: How can the Finance Team become Business Partners of the Lawyers—and not just Transaction Processors?

When an attorney provides a major discount for a client (with no other changes to the way services are delivered), we often hear, “we’ll make it up in volume.”  Yet, the client often enjoys a handsome discount, and the firm rarely gets the volume work. This is common, despite the fact that law firms are increasingly invested in profitability modeling, which ought to help change some bad habits and improve business acumen. But leveraging profit modeling as a way to help price matters or review the results of AFAs requires a cultural shift. Ultimately, profitability needs to emerge via a business partnership between the finance team and the lawyers – helping to drive business decisions. The finance team has the numbers, and when partnered with the business knowledge of the client, matter, practice group, and/or billing attorney, the numbers tell a story and can guide business decisions related to staffing and pricing.  We need to weave the business story and financial data together in a way that is helpful and actionable for our partners… which is not always something we do well.

 

Kathy Hall, Chief Financial Officer,

Winstead PC

 

Jessica G. Gichner, Sr. Director, Pricing & LPM Solutions,

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

 

Matt Finke, Chief Financial Officer,
Thompson Coburn LLP

 

Pieter van der Hoeven, CEO and Co-founder, 

Clocktimizer 

 

Moderator:

Tom Jones, CEO/Founder,  

Iridium Technology 

2:00PM – 2:15PM EDT
Break

2:15PM – 3:00PM EDT

CASE STUDY: What We Learned from Rolling Out Practice Group Profitability Reporting

Back in 2015, Snell & Wilmer was providing limited profitability reporting at the firm level to its firm chair and executive committee. Today, the firm produces robust profitability reports by matter, client, working attorney, billing attorney and practice group. More importantly, these reports are now available to partners and practice group leaders in near real-time. Practice group leaders meet quarterly to review the profitability of active timekeepers in their group and make adjustments as necessary. Getting to this point wasn’t easy. Join us as we share our lessons learned over the past six years and where we expect to go in the next six years.

 

James Omerza, Director of Pricing and Practice Management,

Snell & Wilmer

 

Kyle Day, Chief Financial Officer,

Snell & Wilmer

3:00PM – 3:15PM EDT
Break

3:15PM – 4:00PM EDT

CLOSING PANEL DISCUSSION: Driving Value and Satisfaction (and Profit) through Transparency and Partnership

The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has placed significant financial pressures on businesses, turning a brighter spotlight on corporate legal departments’ budgets – and inevitably, on their outside counsel’s performance. By working closely with and partnering with their corporate clients, law firms have the opportunity can deliver greater value in their services and at the same time avoid write-downs. All of which drive greater client satisfaction and better profitability for the firm. Wolters Kluwer will lead a panel of industry thought leaders to discuss law firm strategies to provide transparency, leverage innovation to drive down costs, and ultimately develop closer relationships with clients. 

  

Robert Ingato, Executive Vice President & General Counsel

Wolters Kluwer 

 

Mark Samuels, Partner & Vice-Chair 

O'Melveny & Myers LLP 

 

Marcie Borgal Shunk, President & Founder  

The Tilt Institute Inc

 

Moderator:  

Dean Sonderegger

Head of Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory, U.S. 

4:00PM – 4:15PM EDT

Closing Remarks – Conference Chair

Tom Jones, CEO/Founder,

Iridium Technology