2018 Winners – Business of Law

First Place

DLA Piper

Strategic Initiative: Predictive Analytics

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Even the biggest firms can have trouble retaining and growing revenue from clients. DLA Piper was experiencing a loss of revenue due to clients shrinking or going dormant, but the firm didn’t know why. The DLA Piper marketing team hypothesized that the firm could take a big data approach to predict not just who and why those clients were at risk of shrinking or leaving the firm, but also understand what actions could be done to reverse the trend.

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DLA Piper brought in Axiom Consulting Partners to assist in building a predictive-learning model that predicted with 75-80 percent accuracy those clients that will shrink or go dormant in the next year. Using the model, the firm identified 1,200 “at-risk” clients. The model analyzed over 400 variables, and ultimately uncovered 22 variables that were most predictive of why clients leave the firm or begin to shrink. Even more groundbreaking, it was also a prescriptive model in that it identified the actions needed to reverse this trend. The firm next went about implementing a smart, targeted pilot program. The success of the initiative required a culture change within the marketing department in how they approached client development. Marketing focused their efforts on open-minded and interested partners. The firm was then able to begin the very measured and deliberate work needed to introduce the pilot, sustain it in order to drive and measure results, and refine as the pilot progressed.

The pilot resulted in nearly $38 million in new revenue on an annualized basis for DLA Piper. The pilot indicated significant impact to fee growth: A comparison of actual fees collected on an annualized basis from the first four months of 2017 and 2016 showed the prescribed actions taken prevented 85 percent of expected fee loss for at-risk clients. The firm was also able to identify the four actions that would have the most impact on client growth and retention: reducing the size of matter teams and increasing the time spent per team member; introducing one new professional to the relationship; adding one or more industry experts to the team; and, running a focused, relevant marketing initiative for each client. The team also discovered that the more actions that were executed, the better the client growth. When none of these four actions were taken, there was an average of 48 percent revenue loss. When one was taken, revenue increased 14 percent. When two or more were taken, monthly fees went up 20 percent.

Second Place

Legal Lean Sigma Institute LLC

The Legal WorkOut®

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Summary: Through colleague feedback and ongoing budget assessments, Aon’s global law department determined the need to develop process improvement (PI) and project management (PM) skills and reduce internal and external costs, while maintaining superior service delivery. With the Legal WorkOut approach, Legal Lean Sigma Institute (LLSI) helped Aon identify and implement improvements and collaborate with outside counsel on PI projects, resulting in cost savings, greater value to all, increased efficiency, reduced frustration and greatly enhanced relationships.

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Aon piloted LLSI’s novel amalgamation of PI methodologies and tools to produce an innovative and successful structure for teams to collaboratively develop skills and improve processes together. To generate rapid improvements and gain alignment and buy-in, LLSI helped Aon and preferred providers improve specific legal and business processes that needed significant improvement: billing, litigation and subpoena. Areas of focus included: faster completion time, lower costs, fewer errors, begin building skills and cultures of continuous improvement, and deliver increased value for both organizations. Cross-functional, cross-organizational teams spent 1.5 total days in workshops designed and facilitated by LLSI. Teams mapped current state processes and identified pain points plus potential immediate and future areas of improvement. After a month’s work and several checkpoints, the teams met again to share progress and develop additional improvements and plans. Implementation continues today.

LLSI garnered fantastic results, including:

  • Made the case for PI in only six months, by:
    • Billing: lowered number of rejected invoices by 43 percent overall, 30 percent time reduction in review time, decreased total monetary amount of rejected invoices by 41 percent.
    • Subpoena: Improved legal outcomes, decreased average subpoena cycle time by 44 percent from 175 days to 98 days. Experience and results convinced professionals known for skepticism.
  • Teamwork: Some met face-to-face for the first time despite having “worked together” for years. Teams broke out of silos, learned the fundamentals of Legal Lean Sigma® and LPM, then applied concepts/tools to specific processes.
  • New Skills, language, tools: Empowered critical conversations. Harnessed best practices/expertise of teams. New dedicated resources/technology sharing (subpoena dashboard).
  • New Understanding: Knowledge of processes as a whole. Greater respect and appreciation for each team member. Allowed everyone to understand the effort it took to operate processes.
  • Law department won awards.

Third Place

K&L Gates LLP

Thinking Like a Client: Industry Focus

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Summary: In service of the firm's ultimate goal — to be in full alignment with the needs of its clients around the world — K&L Gates LLP knew it must first understand the key issues and challenges its clients face across various industries. Fulfilling this objective requires actively seeking out feedback. The firm learned that clients need content organized in an intuitive manner — by industry, not by practice group. Knowing this, the next step is to create tailored content that can help clients do their jobs more effectively.

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K&L Gates did the following:

  • Launched a campaign to establish the firm as “Global Counsel to the financial technology (or fintech) Industry.” Fintech is a burgeoning area of law with touchpoints in the firm’s nine core practice areas. The firm produces cutting-edge content that is promoted across all platforms. It launched a blog and purchased a six-month native ad run in The American Lawyer.
  • Health care sector campaign. The centerpiece of this campaign is the Triage podcast, addressing developments in health law through short episodes. Episodes are emailed, promoted on social and can be downloaded on HUB, GooglePlay or iTunes.
  • Partnered with Forbes Insights (research division of Forbes Media) to commission white paper on disruption in the manufacturing industry: “General Counsel in the Age of Disruption.” K&L Gates organized a robust marketing campaign, including social media, HUB series page, press/media outreach and in-person roundtable events. The firm created an interactive version of the white paper with ALM and placed native ads on The American Lawyer.

K&L Gates LLP's health care and fintech campaigns not only boosted the firm's profile in these sectors, but, more importantly, directly resulted in new legal work. Since the launch of Triage, the firm's health care podcast, it have released 41 episodes and obtained over 3,200 downloads. In connection with its fintech campaign, the firm garnered significant press coverage when it announced the implementation of K&L Gates’ own private blockchain. The press release was picked up by media outlets (The American Lawyer, The Legal Intelligencer, New York Law Journal, The Global Legal Post, etc). Through the manufacturing white paper campaign, K&L Gates continues to make impressions in numerous high-traffic sites, including CorporateCounsel.com, Law.com, Forbes.com, and various social media sites. Over 250 people (many legal decision makers) downloaded the white paper in the first three months. The firm received worldwide press coverage in media outlets, including The Global Legal Post, Australasian Lawyer, JUVE and Adnkronos International.

Honorable Mention

Eversheds Sutherland

BD Team Drives $7 Million in Work Value in Less Than a Year

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Summary: Eversheds Sutherland's goals were to: 

  • Identify key client needs to maximize revenue opportunities the minute the combination was effective and break even within the first year.
  • Coordinate early communication to clients and key partners, while maintaining confidentiality of the decision, thus creating buy-in.
  • Control the message to the public once combined, explaining the benefits of the combination without leaving the impression that Sutherland was being swallowed.
  • Maintain market share and client loyalty.

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Initial analysis of the firm’s relationships with its top 100 clients included confidentially interviewing dozens of people inside and outside the firm, supported by the business development (BD) team. Within four months, the BD team delivered a report to Sutherland’s managing partner, confirming that a combination would overwhelmingly benefit partners with increased business opportunities and provide a win for clients with an expanded footprint of global services. This client report was instrumental in advancing the negotiations. Once in agreement to move forward, the BD communications team created an extensive project plan with nearly 200 action items, including creating a “partners not in the know” list, establishing a strategy to contact all 150-plus partners and developing an Intranet page for all documents. The BD team drafted various scripts to communicate key messages internally and distributed a packet of key information to partners at the time of the vote so they could make an informed decision.

Involving a CMO at the very early stages of such a large combination shows how far the legal industry has come and how much Sutherland entrusted the BD team. The BD team became a strategic partner in analyzing how a combination might affect the client base six months before the partnership was made aware that a combination was on the table. It is important to note that the BD team did not hire a consultant to assist in the analysis of the client base or the negotiation of the terms of the agreement to combine, a decision that saved the firm more than $1 million in expenses.