The New Normal

Value Is the New Normal

Posted Oct 18, 2010 5:47 PM CDT
By Paul Lippe

Paul Lippe

Editor’s note: The New Normal is an ongoing discussion between Paul Lippe, the CEO of Legal OnRamp, and Patrick Lamb, founding member of Valorem Law Group. Paul and Pat spend a lot of time thinking, writing and speaking about the changes occurring in the delivery of legal services. We hope you will join their discussions.

The Harvard Future Ed meeting was extremely rich and full of very useful presentations.

Most of the talks will be online in either video or text shortly (including Dean Minow’s excellent keynote, which was quite un-Deanish), so I won’t attempt to summarize too much.

Probably the key presentation came from Laura Stein, GC of Clorox, who is also one of the key drivers of the ACC (Association of Corporate Counsel) Value Challenge, and a former Chair of the ACC.

In addition to having the optimal CV for the modern, global GC, Laura has an unusual level of empathy for legal academia, because her father was a law school professor and dean.

Laura said clients want four things:

• Results

• Expertise

• Efficiency

• Project Management

Laura reminded the audience that the modern, sophisticated client wants to integrate law into the global enterprise, not treat it as a unique, “bet the company” event, and that value is an amalgam of outcome-related measures, not the traditional lawyer (or law school) view of value as a function of credentials, reputation, effort or intent. Not going to be easy for law schools to catch up on this, since their direction for the last generation has been to the esoteric, not the empirical, but folks in the room seemed committed to try.

I am presenting tomorrow (Tuesday) at a San Francisco Legal Marketing Association (LMA) event also on the theme of value and the Value Challenge, along with Mike Roster, the former GC of Stanford and one of the long-time leaders in this effort.

There’s a nice paper from some folks at Stanford about the changing economics of law firms, which provides a deeper and more complex lens on all this.

What remains notable is that even though we’re still at the beginning stage of seeing what “normal” will look like as this “value revolution” gets going, all of the emotional and intellectual energy is coming from those driving change—you just can’t find anyone willing to stand up and explain in a coherent, fact-based way (as opposed to the random skeptical strawman) why the status quo is A-OK.

Paul Lippe is the founder and CEO of the Legal OnRamp, a Silicon Valley-based initiative founded in cooperation with Cisco Systems to improve legal quality and efficiency through collaboration, automation and process re-engineering. Lippe formerly was an executive at the electronic design automation company Synopsys and later was CEO of Stanford SKOLAR, a medical digital library and e-learning company sponsored by Stanford Medical School.

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