Legal Evolution – Explaining Elevate’s Recent Acquisitions
Let’s start with “Why did we start Elevate?” Back in 2011, we saw demand for legal services outstripping the growth of the economy, and that demand was being driven by trends such as the explosion of data, regulation, and globalization. Increasingly, legal was woven into the day-to-day operations of the business, rather than being a silo function. More internal and external customers began demanding even more legal services, at the same time they were becoming accustomed to ‘always-on, instant service’ in their consumer life. Service demand on law departments and law firms had never been higher – and that pressure wasn’t going away.
This was causing law departments and law firms to grow, become more decentralized, embedded, and integrated within global business, and to become more organizationally complex. We saw the emergence of in-sourcing, legal operations, procurement practices such as ebilling and RFPs, matter management, process design, performance metrics, and an explosion of legal tech. General counsel and law firm leaders were starting to talk about the need to manage their organizations with business discipline, but who could they turn to for help?
Our vision was to build a consulting, technology, and services company exclusively focused on law. What we called “Accenture for Law.”
Launching a successful company is hard. Sustaining a successful company is even harder. There are no shortcuts. Organic growth provides some of the pieces of this large jigsaw puzzle. Acquisitions provide others. We’ve brought some great companies together – each with their own history of success. Elevate is now home to an even richer team of leaders, managers, and experts, with great experiences and ideas for the future.
Together, we aspire to build the law company. We are methodically building a stable, diverse, scale business with global reach and staying power – to help those law department and law firm customers that seek to ‘Elevate’ their operations for tomorrow.
ABA Journal – Law firms hiring CEOs without law degrees reignites debate about turning over the reins to business professionals
Hickey was named CEO in 2018, after working for four years as the firm’s executive director and previously as its director of finance since 1999. According to Hickey, the lawyers at her firm stick to legal work while the nonlawyers handle the nonlegal stuff, and everyone works together harmoniously.
“Lawyers are trained to be lawyers and not to be businesspeople,” says Hickey, who doesn’t like the term nonlawyer. “It was and remains a sound business model to engage business professionals to run the firm—the pace and change and the breadth of knowledge required to stay relevant and competitive in the legal industry demands full energy and focus of business professionals.”
Since law schools don’t typically teach lawyers how to run a company, it’s difficult for many lawyers to run their businesses. Some firms address this issue by cultivating leaders through committees, training and education—but this isn’t the norm[.]
“The U.K. and other countries have begun experimenting with nonlawyer equity ownership and investment, and so far, their legal markets haven’t collapsed into an unethical morass, but opposition to that kind of deregulation remains pretty stiff in the U.S.”[.]
[T]here must be recognition that strong leadership is needed to keep the partners at bay so the C-level employees can do their jobs.
“The investment will pay returns, but it is a long-term strategy and must be approached as such”[.] “In many firms, a complete governance reorganization is warranted to support this structure.”
Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute – State of Corporate Law Departments 2019: Doing Much More to Maximize the Value of Legal Services
[T]oday’s legal problems faced by corporate law departments are dynamic and wide-ranging, and the solutions require a highly diverse set of skills and capabilities — teams of lawyers alone are no longer enough to solve all problems in optimal ways.
The report shows that innovative law departments score significantly higher across all key performance areas, including the ultimate measures of quality and value. And this level of innovation needs to incorporate a wide array of different areas, such as embracing legal technologies, utilizing expert professionals alongside lawyers, reviewing and overhauling work processes and pricing models, and building more collaborative partnerships between in-house teams and outside law firms and alternative legal services providers.
The report also identifies a number of key levers that corporate law departments can use to create a high-performing legal function and enhance the impact that their department makes on the overall success of the organization.
Lawyers Weekly – Behavioural and process innovation should be the priority for most law firms
In a professional services environment, innovation is what can differentiate one firm from the rest, allow a firm to command a price premium, make one firm more profitable than the rest, strengthen client loyalty, and allow a firm to attain and maintain a competitive advantage.
Unless your firm is mature – and, by that, I mean in its operations, not its heritage – it would be wise to concentrate on just two dimensions: behavioural innovation and process innovation.
Behavioural innovation is achieved when a firm creates a culture which embraces new ideas and encourages employees to seek out new and improved ways of performing even the most menial of tasks.
Process innovation aids organisational efficiency through the adoption of non-technology-based new and best practice processes, procedures and techniques. It can be driven by quality, compliance and regulatory demands, as well as being a reaction to declining margins.