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The Big Law model must change. The billable hour must go. The salaries for young associates must be slashed. The firms must use more technology to increase efficiency. The drumbeats for changing Big Law have been sounding for some time now and continue to grow louder. And yet, examples of real responsive change in the Big Law firms remain relatively few and far between. Why? What are the impediments to innovation within Big Law firms – structural, cultural, economic? Why do firms apparently struggle even with incorporating innovative tools developed outside the firm? How can lawyers succeed in driving change both within their firm and within the profession?
The Center on the Legal Profession is pleased to sponsor a discussion between Stephen Poor, Chair of Seyfarth Shaw, Ron Dolin, Research Fellow with the Center on the Legal Profession, and Thomas Buley, JD/MBA candidate at Stanford. Under Poor's leadership, Seyfarth Shaw is well-recognized as a law firm committed to innovation, recently winning the Innovative Project of the Year award from the International Legal Technology Association. Dolin, working with Buley, has focused his research on the obstacles to innovation in Big Law and seeks to tease out potential paths to innovation.
Please find a working draft of Dolin and Buley's paper on this topic at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2593621
Lunch will be served.
J. Stephen Poor
Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Mr. Poor is a partner in the Chicago office of Seyfarth Shaw, where he represents management in the area of labor and employment law. Mr. Poor is Chairman of the Firm with overall responsibility for the leadership, direction, growth, profitability and culture of the organization. He has held that position since mid-2001. He has served on the Firm’s Executive Committee since 1998. Prior to joining the Executive Committee, he was Chair of the Firm’s Labor and Employment Law Group from 1994 through 1998.
As Chair of the Firm, Mr. Poor has helped lead the Seyfarth team in its effort to continue to provide the highest quality legal services while driving value and efficiency through proprietary process improvement techniques, known as SeyfarthLean. Derived from Six Sigma and Lean methodologies, SeyfarthLean is a disciplined way of thinking about the delivery of high-quality legal services in a way that delivers value to the Firm’s clients. Seyfarth was recently recognized by BTI Consulting Group as “best of the best” among law firms for our ‘market leading’ innovative approach to the practice of law. Mr. Poor was named the 2011 Legal Innovator of the Year by the Financial Times in recognition of this work.
Mr. Poor started his career with Seyfarth as an employment lawyer with particular focuses on trial work and ERISA litigation. He regularly speaks on topics relating to law firm management, including partner compensation systems, change management in the law firm environment and the application of process improvement techniques to the practice of law.
Ron A. Dolin
Research Fellow, Stanford Law School
Ron received his B.A. in math and physics from U.C. Berkeley before heading to Geneva to work at CERN, the high-energy physics lab. After a few years there, he left for graduate work in computer science, obtaining a Ph.D. from U.C. Santa Barbara with his dissertation on scalable search. Ron ended up as one of the first 100 at Google, and left after several years to get a law degree from U.C. Hastings. Ron is an angel investor, focusing on legal technology startups, and teaches legal technology and informatics at Stanford Law School. Ron is working on a program on legal innovation at Stanford's School of Design with SLS alum Margaret Hagan. Ron recently gave a keynote talk about the injection of innovation in big law at the G100 meeting of the CIO's of the 100 largest law firms at the ILTA 2013 conference in Las Vegas.
JD/MBA Student, Stanford University
Thomas Buley is a second-year JD/MBA student at Stanford, Class of 2017. Thomas has been exploring innovation in Big Law with the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession since Spring 2014.
Thomas graduated from Duke University in 2010 with a B.A. in History and Mathematics and a minor in Economics. Following Duke, Thomas worked at J.P. Morgan in New York for three years, trading distressed debt and leveraged loans, with a particular focus on retail, consumer product, and media and entertainment companies. He spent the 2014 summer in the East Palo Alto office of DLA Piper in the corporate and IP practice groups, and will be working in the San Francisco office of McKinsey & Co. in the summer of 2015.