Leading the Business of Law

Leading the Business of Law - ALA Legal Management - Nov Dec 2015

Having been involved in attempting to manage a group of attorneys — whether in a private law firm, corporate legal department, governmental agency or otherwise — you know that managing the operational side of the business can be challenging at times … actually, several times daily.,

However, over the last several years, the challenges have taken on a whole new degree of magnitude. We worry about cybersecurity threats and complex regulations, such as the Affordable Care Act. We worry whether to be in the cloud or not. We worry how to make the organization more profitable.

As we worry about what seems like an endless list of operational demands for our time and attention, we as law firm leaders and managers have the opportunity to grasp that seat at the organization’s governance table — be it an executive committee, board of directors, managing shareholders, etc. — by helping bring change to the practice of law.

We can help lawyers understand the need to serve clients differently. We are already very influential in our firms, companies and other organizations. We already have knowledge about the operations of the organization that few, if any, others have. We know the data or know where to find it. We know the personalities. We know who is technologically skilled and challenged. Let’s turn all that knowledge to helping lead the changes that our clients are demanding.

If you need evidence of the changes occurring in the industry, whether driven by our clients or our competitors, just take a few minutes to look at the website for NextLawLabs or watch this video. Both give compelling evidence.

We have to think differently. ALA needs to appeal to a broad mix of professionals serving the legal industry.


How does the Association of Legal Administrators equip itself to be able to educate its members on all of these changes? We have to think differently. ALA needs to appeal to a broad mix of professionals serving the legal industry.

We have to become the experts in legal project management, value-based billing arrangements, maximizing organizational profitability while minimizing clients’ costs, process improvement, innovation, matter budgeting, early case assessment, crowdfunding litigation — the list goes on.

The number of positions in law firms and legal departments dealing with these sorts of changes is growing each day. We need a wider range of knowledge and resources to help drive the industry and our organization (which has for so many years served the legal industry well). We should not move at glacial speed.

These examples are why the ALA Board of Directors has proposed to the chapters that the organization undergo a rebrand. Numerous boards, serving back to at least 2000, have tackled the difficult task of researching, evaluating, analyzing and agonizing over this issue, with 87 percent of our members supporting a name change at the time of our last rebranding effort. And these efforts were before all of these changes that have targeted our industry and our
members began.

As changes to our industry are accelerating, your Board feels that the time is now. We have to lead; we have to stay relevant; we have to be more dynamic and innovative. We have to make a difference in this industry. We owe this to our law firms and to our clients. We owe this to our members. We have to appeal to young professionals, too, as 77 percent of our current membership is age 47 or older, with 40 percent older than 57. We are facing the need to see almost 4,000 new members brought into the organization within the next five or so years in order to maintain our existing size. Daunting thought.

So, we face a huge challenge as an organization in much the same way we face huge challenges within our industry. I think few these days will argue that we have to operate our organizations as businesses and that we owe a duty to our owners and our clients to be as efficient and as effective as possible. Being the leader in the business of law requires change. Equipping you as a member to help make those changes and to claim a seat at the table is the business of our organization. Claiming that seat is up to you!

For the latest news on the rebrand, visit



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