The 21st Annual Law Firm COO & CFO Forum - Thomson Reuters Institute (2023)

8:00AM ETBreakfast & Registration
9:00AM ETOpening Remarks
9:15AM ETThe State of the US Legal Market

2021 was another record year for law firms. Yet despite unprecedented demand and growth rates not seen in over a decade, firms found themselves entangled in an escalating talent war, all while balancing higher expenses with evolving client needs. Given the cautious optimism over COVID-19’s ebb, what might the current and forthcoming year hold for legal professionals? What opportunities exist within key sectors or practice areas? Should law firms expect another banner year or be prepared for modest returns? Join us for our annual, data-driven examination of key trends and headwinds impacting legal services.

James Jones, Senior Fellow, Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession, Georgetown University Law Center
Gretta Rusanow, Head of Advisory Services, Law Firm Group, Citi Private Bank

10:30AM ETMorning Break
10:45AM ETNervous Conditions: Stress & Demand in the Global Economy

For all the optimism of 2022 economic forecasts, evolving supply chain issues, persistent inflation, market volatility, and even the impact of financial sanctions on Russia have ostensibly derailed short-term momentum heading into 2023. On the eve of the US midterm elections, what is one to make of the overall health of the domestic and global economy? What impact will shifting attitudes toward public health and hybrid work arrangements have on US GDP and global growth? This keynote welcomes expert economists in a roundtable exploration of key economic drivers and potential storm clouds with significant, far-reaching implications.

Axel Threlfall, Editor at Large, Reuters

Kevin Depew, Deputy Chief Economist & Industry Analyst Program Leader, RSM US LLP
Dr. Caroline Freund, Dean, UC San Diego School of Global Policy & Strategy & Nonresident Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics
Dr. Michael Strain, Arthur F. Burns Scholar in Political Economy & Director of Economic Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute
Steven Wieting, Chief Investment Strategist & Chief Economist, Citi Global Wealth

12:00PM ETNetworking Luncheon
1:00PM ETBreakout #1: New Sculptures in the Sandbox: Assessing Alternative Business Ownership Models in Legal Services (Breakout)

Given the accelerating number of so-termed “alternative business structures” outside the United States, the national debate over (inevitable) industry transformation continues to crest. Utah, Arizona, and California are actively exploring or have formally recognized an initial spate of non-traditional providers. And while, in the words of the Utah Supreme Court, a regulatory sandbox offers an admirable approach to curtailing the access to justice “crisis,” broader, state-level resistance toward abolishing ABA Rule 5.4 suggests ominous pitfalls for wider adoption. This session delivers an earnest inquiry into the viability, practicality, and future of alternative business structures. Is there room in a crowded and ever-evolving industry for this new breed of competitor?

Marci Taylor, Principal, Law Firm Advisory Services, Withum Smith+Brown, PC

Anthony E. Davis, Of Counsel, Clyde & Co LLP
Bruce MacEwen, President, Adam Smith, Esq.
Beatrice Seravello, Partner & Co-Head, NewLaw, Baretz+Brunelle LLC
Jason Solomon, Lecturer in Law & Executive Director, Deborah L. Rhode Center on the Legal Profession, Stanford Law School

Breakout #2: Propulsion Dynamics: Maximizing Value in Strategic Alliances & Business Partnerships (Breakout)

Recent events have underscored the intrinsic value of strategic alliances and external partners with extensive global reach and process efficiency. Such engagements highlight a marked shift toward more bespoke, potentially complex legal services and an implicit nod to pandemic-era financial controls still in place across the Am Law 200. This conversation builds upon collaborative synergies within the current market. How are firms maximizing the impact of third-party partners and professional associations on such matters as client service, business development, people management, or operational infrastructure?

(Video) COO & CFO Forum: State of the Legal Market 2020

Julie Colgan, Vice President of Operational Excellence, Epiq

Justin Cheseroni, Chief Financial Officer, Richards, Layton & Finger, P.A.
Warren McCann, Corporate Counsel & Funding Director, Law Finance Group
Terri Pepper, Chief Executive Officer, TerraLex
Diane Scheffler, Chief Operating Officer, Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP

Breakout #3: Forging Empires: Resource and Fiscal Investment in Law Firm R&D (Breakout)

Identifying R&D opportunities toward improved products and/or services is a regular practice for corporations. As the legal industry continues to retrench, opportunities for R&D investment may provide a competitive edge amid increased market competition. For a firm looking to pursue such an approach, where best to establish roots? How do firms identify key areas of investment and how much of their overall budget or resources can be truly dedicated to R&D? Please join us for a lively exploration of short- and long-term successes (and failures) in pursuit of transformative growth.

Tom Baldwin, Partner, Fireman & Company, an Epiq Company

Mark Gargiulo, Chief Operating Officer, Gray Reed & McGraw LLP & President, Gray Reed Advisory Services LLC
Brett Spooner, Founder, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Partner, Gravis Law,PLLC
Carla Swansburg, Chief Executive Officer, ClearyX
Vivek Wadhwa, Chief Operating Officer, Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP

2:15PM ETBreak
2:30PM ETThe New Romantics: Reimagining Purpose & Compensation in Modern Legal Services

Talent management in a pandemic era persists through divergent and dynamic means. When not defining hybrid working models or (re)calibrating office strategy, many firm leaders find themselves grappling with elevated associate attrition and pockets of existential angst over career trajectory, professional purpose, compensation, or work-life balance. This conversation asks not what (or whom) each firm can afford to pay, but what makes sense for a given organization? How are leaders addressing itinerant talent in modern legal services? How are firms incorporating notions of “culture” and “value” within their own compensation models? Is the current industry arms race truly sustainable for most of the Am Law 200? And perhaps, most intriguingly, are heightened attrition levels emblematic of short-term social disruption or much broader, institutional change?

Jeffrey Connor, Chief Financial Officer, McGuireWoods LLP

Dwight Floyd, Chief Operating Officer, Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP
Shonette Gaston, Chief Operating Officer, Blank Rome LLP
Laura E. Long, Chief Operating Officer & Chief Financial Officer, Hanson BridgettLLP
Janet Stanton, Partner, Adam Smith, Esq.
William M. Washington III, Chief Financial Officer, Baker McKenzie

3:30PM ETBreak
3:45PM ETBreakout #1: Watchers on the Wall: Managing Changed Risks Across the Firm (Breakout)

Emerging from austerity into a sputtering economy creates significant operational and financial strain. In addition to enhanced operating costs and resumption of employee travel, managing the pandemic-era order-to-cash process, bolstering fraud and cybersecurity controls, or even marketing and client development spend yields considerable risk in a climate of tepid optimism. How are firms protecting themselves in a rapidly evolving landscape? This session explores emergent strategies in risk management as firms continue to stay vigilant and alert.

(Video) COO & CFO Forum Interview: Tech investment on a budget

Margaret Poster, Principal, MSP Advisors LLC

Kathy Hall, Chief Financial Officer, Winstead PC
Mary Jackson, Chief Officer, Professional Resources, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
Joseph J. Palermo, Chief Operating Officer, Lowenstein Sandler LLP
Christopher J. Waters, Chief Financial Officer, Goulston & Storrs PC

Breakout #2: Expansive View: Developing a Growth-Focused Knowledge Management Strategy (Breakout)

Technology and business intelligence (“BI”) help identify growth opportunities and overall operational efficiencies. Yet with the pandemic moving most law firm operations to the cloud, and industry forecasts predicting a gradual decline in market momentum, firms may do well to access intelligence outside their usual purview, eliciting important questions over a scalable, growth-oriented knowledge management (“KM”) plan for the firm. How can firms establish a versatile and cohesive KM strategy in the modern workspace? What collaborative approaches (whether within or without) can accelerate or enhance existing processes and resources?

Bob Seabolt, Owner & Senior Consultant, Robert D. Seabolt LLC & Former Chief Operating Officer, IST Management

Cindy Thurston Bare, Chief Data & Innovation Officer, Frost Brown Todd LLC
Lisa Ellis-James, Chief Operating Officer, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
Kimberly A. Gardner, Chief Operating Officer, Holland & Knight LLP
Judy Mackenzie Stuart, Global Chief Knowledge Officer, Bryan Cave Leighton PaisnerLLP

Breakout #3: Transformative Measures: Mastering Firmwide ESG Strategy (Breakout)

Client- and employee-driven expectations around environmental, social & corporate governance (“ESG”) continue to impact both the business and practice of law. As business and people leaders, C-Suite officers play key roles in establishing policies and broader expectations across the enterprise. This breakout asks participants to examine current and forthcoming ESG investments within their firm. Where and how has the organization made strides (or perhaps come up short) regarding expectations and behaviors? Please join us for a dynamic and interactive exploration of strategic vision and execution.

John Friedman, Managing Director – ESG & Sustainability, Grant Thornton LLP

Julia Hayhoe, Managing Director, Hayhoe Consulting; Board Consultant & Non-Executive Director
Gayatri Joshi, Executive Director, Law Firm Sustainability Network
William M. Libit, Chief Operating Partner, Chapman and Cutler LLP
Natalie Runyon, Director, ESG Content & Advisory Services, Thomson Reuters
Aragon St-Charles, Global Head of ESG, Dentons

5:00PM ETThursday Night Reception

Please join us for drinks as we wrap up the day’s proceedings.

(Video) Dr. Evan Parker, Director of Analytics at Lawyer Metrics

8:30AM ETPartner Talks & Breakfast

Please join us for a series of consecutive 15-minute presentations designed for law firm executives.

Partner Talk #1
The Attrition Antidote:Anticipating & Preempting Attrition through People Intelligence
Much is said about the “Great Resignation,” an ongoing economic trend in which employees across levels, especially those mid-career, are resigning at unprecedented rates. Law firms had a retention issue even prior to the Great Resignation—and it has only gotten worse, much worse, over the past 18 months. Many senior leadership teams have tried to solve the attrition challenge by funneling a significant portion of free cash into elevated associate and staff salaries. And while money often surfaces as the reason professionals give for leaving, more often compensation is merely one of several key reasons why people elect to go (or stay).This talk delivers a practical solution for firms looking to truly crack the talent retention cipher by committing to a powerful “early warning system” built upon behavioral science and data intelligence.

Mark Masson, Partner & Head of Professional Services Practice, Axiom Consulting Partners


Partner Talk #2:
Terraformed Talent: A Case Study on Law Firm Associate Work Allocation
Amid rapidly evolving employee expectations and renewed focus on equity and bias in the workplace, leading law firms are investing in a recalibrated Associate work allocation process as part of a contemporary enterprise talent management roadmap and revenue strategy. What considerations are innovative firms deploying vis-à-vis implementation, execution, and reporting? What breakthroughs (or setbacks) have firms encountered throughout this critical journey? Please join us for a compelling case study facilitated by senior firm leadership and a trusted business services partner.

Leah N. Fisher, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Baker & Hostetler LLP
Jason Noble, President, ikaun


Partner Talk #3:
Diamonds in the Rough: Uncovering the Hidden Value of Client Intelligence
Business growth in the current climate involves the transformation of law firm client data into a versatile strategic asset. Indeed, thanks to the ongoing maturation of data analytics across the profession, legal services providers are in position to expand client relationships and operate more efficiently thanks to key technologies and evolving data skill sets among business staff and the broader firm partnership. This presentation highlights the latest success strategies for leveraging client intelligence at large and midsize firms. Participants will discover how to take their organization to new heights of data analytics and truly differentiate their market position.

Jessica Bolf, Senior Director of Alliances, Introhive

(Video) Kingsley Martin, President and Chief Executive Officer of KM Standards


Partner Talk #4:
Diversified Leverage:Enhancing Firm Profitability and Client Alignment through Litigation Finance
With economic uncertainty dominating law firm strategic planning, many members of the Am Law 200 and Global 100 are exploring litigation finance to help insulate their firms and clients against business illiquidity; the inherent risks of litigation; and its escalating costs. According to one industry survey, 76% of in-house and law firm respondents reported leveraging legal finance in recent matters — more than double the percentage just four years prior. Another survey revealed that 68% of in-house and law firm lawyers believe legal finance will become more common in the years ahead, particularly as a mechanism to mitigate recessionary impacts. Law firm COOs and CFOs are key decision-makers in determining whether litigation funding can fuel enhanced law firm profitability, while better aligning the interests of firms and their clients. This presentation offers a timely look at the mechanics of litigation funding and specific benefits to law firm and client financial performance, risk mitigation and operational efficiency.

Allen Fagin, Board Member & Senior Advisor, Validity Finance

9:30AM ETPurple Haze: A US Political & Foreign Policy Roundtable

With expectations of a so-called “red wave” in the US midterm elections against the backdrop of a tumultuous global stage, all eyes are on Capitol Hill and America’s volatile regulatory landscape in year two of President Joe Biden’s administration. Economic and geopolitical instability, legislative gridlock, evolving homeland security threats, and a conservative-leaning SCOTUS are core political flashpoints with direct, global ramifications for business leaders. Please join a panel of esteemed commentators for a lively and provocative conversation at a pivotal moment in US history.

Jeff Mason, White House Correspondent, Reuters

Donna Brazile, Veteran Democratic Political Strategist; Adjunct Professor; Author & Opinion Columnist
Dr. William Kristol, Founder and Director of Defending Democracy Together; Political Analyst & Network Television Commentator

10:30AM ETMorning Break
10:45AM ETInto the Metaverse

The next frontier for legal services is rooted in digital expansion. Once the stuff of science fiction and fantasy, decentralized virtual planes contain discrete economies and world-building potential rife with possibility and promise. This closing keynote offers a compelling take on the scale and impact of this ever-evolving technology upon modern commerce. How and where might this latest evolutionary leap influence the next generation of legal clients and how might firms need to prepare for new business trends in an evolving digital age?

Joe Raczynski, Technologist & Futurist, Thomson Reuters

Mina Alaghband, Partner and Technology & Customer Growth Leader, McKinsey & Company
Janet Balis, Americas Marketing Practice Leader, Ernst & Young LLP
Guido Molinari, Managing Partner, Prysm Group
William Kerr, General Counsel, Everyrealm Inc.
Mark Reinstra, General Counsel, Roblox

(Video) Thomson Reuters Law Firm Leaders Forum – November 2014 – Ralph Baxter and Daniel Katz

12:00PM ETClosing Remarks


1. Integrating Business Discipline into Law Firm Strategy – 2015 P3 Conference Session
(Legal Marketing Association)
2. Quinlan & Associates: COVID-19 BCP Webinar
(Quinlan & Associates)
3. Is Twitter Undervalued? (How to make 20% ROI in 6 months)
(Adam Feather)
4. Inaugural Accountants Daily Finance Day, with Acting Editor Emma Ryan
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