Tag Archives: Susan Agopian

2024 Legal Industry Outlook: Strategic Transformations and Emerging Opportunities

The year 2024 marks a pivotal era for the legal industry, characterized by rapid technological advancements and significant shifts in legal practices. These developments are reshaping the landscape, and introducing new challenges and opportunities for legal professionals and firms.

“As we step into 2024, we’re witnessing a seismic shift in the legal sector, propelled by cutting-edge technologies and a redefinition of legal practice. This evolution is not just a trend but a fundamental transformation, dictating new paradigms in how legal services are delivered and managed,” remarks Lateral Link Director, Ashleigh Goldberg

  • The Influence of AI and GenAI in Legal Operations

Michael Heise, haistack.ai CTO: “In 2024, the greatest AI influence in the legal industry will continue to be Large Language Models (LLMs). In 2023, tools like ChatGPT showed their power in answering prompts quickly and in different voices and styles. Law firms will look to harness this power with LLMs secured for and designed specifically for their firm. Challenges still lie ahead, like ensuring documents that make up the LLM do not violate ethical wall barriers, but the technology is too transformative to be ignored.”

Analysis: Everlaw predicts significant applications of GenAI in legal practice, with AI technologies automating up to 50% of legal tasks in corporate transactions.

  • ESG and Climate Litigation

Zain Atassi, Principal, Lateral Link Chicago: “2024 will see a rise in ESG litigation, reflecting the growing importance of environmental and social governance in corporate strategies.”

Trend Overview: The PHA Group reports an anticipated surge in ESG-related litigation, driven by increased corporate responsibility and public awareness.

  • Evolving Billing Models and Litigation Funding

Lauren Smith, Principal, Lateral Link Partner Practice Group: “The trend towards alternative fee arrangements is likely to redefine how legal services are delivered as client demands focus more and more on value.” 

Market Insight: The Law Society Gazette highlights a shift towards alternative fee arrangements,  such as flat or fixed fees, with flat fees becoming increasingly popular. Nearly half of all external legal spend in 2023 utilized such models.  While alternative fee arrangements tend to emphasize value over volume, they are most applicable in situations when the work product is predictable.  Alternative billing arrangements do not suit all work, e.g., a litigation that could go in a variety of unpredictable directions.  

  • Cybersecurity Law

Romina Filippou, Senior Director, Lateral Link Northeast: “The rapid evolution of digital threats is making cybersecurity law a critical and growing practice area.”

Industry Perspective: The rise in digital threats and the evolving landscape of internet privacy and data protection laws underscore the growing importance of cybersecurity law.

  • Energy & Natural Resources Law

Susan Agopian, Principal, Lateral Link California: “As the world shifts towards renewable energy, the legal aspects of these resources are becoming more pertinent.”

Sector Analysis: The legal complexities surrounding renewable energy sources, including regulation and innovation, are driving demand for specialized legal expertise.

The legal industry in 2024 is poised for exciting developments, driven by technological innovations and changing market dynamics. Lateral Link, with its team of seasoned recruiters and industry experts, is committed to guiding law firms and legal professionals through these changes, ensuring they remain at the forefront of the industry.

Connect with Lateral Link today to leverage our deep industry knowledge and expertise. Let us help you harness these trends for success in the dynamic legal landscape of 2024.

Business Development for Women Lawyers: Strategies for Success

The current legal landscape—like the economy as a whole—is uncertain. 2022 was a moderately down year for major law firms, as compared to the industry’s remarkable 2021 boom. With firms bracing for what could be a challenging period, adopting effective approaches to business development will be more critical than ever.

This is especially true for women lawyers. Even in smoother economic climates, women confront particular challenges in business development and career advancement in the legal industry. In many practice groups, there remains a lack of female role models for successful business development. Strategies that have traditionally worked well for many male partners don’t always feel authentic and comfortable for women attorneys. More broadly, women often find that they must advocate more actively to receive origination credit and to receive fair consideration for equity partnership and for practice and office leadership positions.

For women associates and counsels, learning how successful women partners approach business development can be eye-opening. The transition to being responsible for developing business is a hard one to navigate for any lawyer. After years of focusing on the practice of law and becoming a highly competent attorney, it can be jarring to confront the reality that legal skills are no longer enough. The discomfort can be compounded for associates and counsels whose practice group leadership is heavily male. Mentorship from female leaders in the profession—including those outside your firm—is often invaluable. When it comes to developing business, there is no one-size-fits-all method for success. Exposing yourself to a diversity of styles and strategies can help you identify and pursue an approach that resonates with your personality, practice, and goals.

For women partners, the business development learning curve doesn’t stop. You have already received a vote of confidence in your ability to bring in clients, but delivering on that potential by growing a solid book of business requires targeted strategies. Business development success is key to increasing compensation, making the jump from non-equity to equity partner, or executing a successful lateral move to a more desirable firm.

On May 24, a virtual event organized by the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles (WLALA) Business Law Section will offer actionable advice for women lawyers interested in successful business development strategies. The program will address strategies for success for every woman lawyer: associate, counsel, junior partner, and senior partners leading groups. The moderated discussion will feature three senior legal recruiters, including Susan Agopian and Gloria Sandrino of Lateral Link.

Themes that Susan and Gloria will emphasize include the need for women lawyers to be intentional about business development and the fact that “business development” is “client development”—one client at a time. Focusing on individual clients is a must in today’s legal industry.

After decades of working closely with partners and associates at the highest levels of the profession, Susan and Gloria are well-attuned to what it takes to develop business as a lawyer. Business development planning is central to the partner lateral recruiting process, with candidates expected to present a compelling case for how they will bring clients to their new firm. So Susan and Gloria regularly discuss business development strategy in detail with successful partners—including many women—at a wide spectrum of top law firms. In addition, Gloria brings her perspective of a decade spent practicing M&A in NYC and Miami.

If you are interested in joining the conversation on May 24, please get your tickets here. Note that the session is free for WLALA members!

Partners Assessing a Secondary Market Move: Finding the Right Firm and Office

Back in December, we suggested that the expansion of Am Law firms into new secondary markets may have been the defining Am Law firm story of 2022, and we explained some of the many reasons why partners at Am Law firms in major cities are moving to secondary markets in unprecedented numbers.

As the 2023 partner lateral market comes into focus, we can report that opportunities at Am Law firms in secondary markets remain plentiful. This is especially true for practices that are less dependent on a strong economy such as litigation, antitrust, privacy, data security, intellectual property, employee benefits, and tax.

Secondary market Am Law opportunities may appeal to partners in two categories. First, they may be a fit for partners interested in moving from outside the state to a secondary market, for the reasons described in our December article. Second, they may be attractive to partners already based in a secondary market who see a chance to “trade up” to an Am Law firm that has recently arrived in their city.

If you find yourself in either of these categories, what are the most important factors to consider as you search for the right firm and office?

Practice alignment with office strategy

The most important criterion to assess is how well your practice aligns with the firm’s strategy for the particular secondary office you’re considering. Note that office-level strategy is not the same thing as firm-level strategy!

Typically, when a firm opens in a new city, it will have identified specific priority practice areas and clients (both existing and potential) for the new office. Two office openings from last month offer clear examples. Goodwin launched in Philadelphia, targeting health care, life sciences, private equity, and financial services work. Meanwhile, Davis Wright opened in Culver City with the aim of expanding its entertainment, media, and healthcare practices.

If your practice area aligns with the new office priorities, that’s an excellent sign. Especially where the firm has publicly announced the practices it intends to build, there will be a sense of urgency internally to back up the talk with demonstrable success. If your practice fits into the plan, you can expect the firm to make a real effort to support you. Conversely, if your practice is not a priority for the office in question, think twice. Even if the firm is willing to bring you in, you cannot expect the same level of support as will be extended to partners in the priority practices.

Cross-selling opportunities

A critical component of strategic fit is the extent to which you can reasonably expect to benefit from cross-selling opportunities, both at the local office level and firm-wide.

Cross-selling can sometimes be driven by proximity to key existing and potential clients: the logic is that by being nearby, partners will be positioned to build strong relationships that lead to servicing an increasing proportion of the client’s legal needs. In interviews about the Culver City opening, Davis Wright partners took care to emphasize their focus on creating cross-selling opportunities on LA’s Westside for lateral partners. Similarly, firms opening in Miami—one of the most popular secondary markets for recent Am Law office expansion—are taking care to site their offices as close to priority clients as possible, in some cases securing space in the same prime Brickell developments that are drawing recently arrived leading hedge funds.

Platform benefits

Although office strategy should be at the forefront, it’s also critical to consider the platform offered by the firm as a whole. How valuable would this firm’s platform be for your practice? K&L Gates’s communications around its office opening in Nashville in 2021 highlighted this factor. In the firm’s press release, partners connected the strong local opportunities in healthcare to the firm’s national healthcare practice and emphasized the value of “a fully integrated law firm with the breadth of practice area capabilities, industry insights and knowledge, and geographic reach that K&L Gates offers.” It’s particularly logical that K&L Gates would play up this factor in Nashville, which historically has not drawn interest from Am Law firms with global reach. But platform is an important consideration regardless of your destination.

Talent pool

Access to talent has been a key driver of recent secondary market expansions. That includes not only newly-hired associates and counsels drawn to secondary market offices but also lawyers currently employed by the firm who may stay longer if given the opportunity to transfer. The secondary markets that firms have favored are viewed by many as nice (and cost-effective!) places to live. Consider, for example, Kirkland’s new offices in Boise and Salt Lake City. Another selling point for many secondary market offices is the lack of state income tax. Think Miami, Austin or Seattle.

Talent has also been a key selling point in attracting lateral partners to these new offices. One reason that partners already working in secondary locations are often eager to join firms in the Am Law is because Am Law firms feature a materially more sophisticated legal talent pool, which newly arrived partners can leverage to accelerate their practices. For Am Law firms arriving in secondary markets, depth of talent is a key advantage—this is a dimension on which the regional firms with a longer history in these markets typically cannot compete.

Lateral partner integration

It’s also essential to inquire about and understand your potential new firm’s lateral partner integration plan. Successfully integrating new partners into the firm’s existing practices is in everyone’s best interests, but even so, we’ve witnessed many cases of poorly managed integration.

For an example of a firm vocalizing its commitment to integrating lateral partners, consider Latham’s opening in Austin in 2021. Latham brought in three lateral partners with deep Austin ties to anchor the new office, two from DLA Piper and one from Wilson Sonsini. In the press release, Latham Chair and Managing Partner Rich Trobman spoke of the firm’s intention “to offer clients in Austin the very best of the Latham platform, by combining our new partners’ experience and skill sets with our already deep and successful bench spanning capital markets, venture capital, and private equity.” If you’re considering a lateral move of any kind—but especially to a relatively smaller office—you will want to make sure your new firm is similarly committed to integrating you effectively.

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If you are a partner interested in exploring secondary market opportunities, we invite you to get in touch. Although there are ample partner-level opportunities out there, partner needs are hardly ever posted. Drawing on our longstanding relationships with leading Am Law firms, we make it our business to know who is looking. We assist with interview and business plan preparation, and when you reach the offer stage, we can negotiate on your behalf, minimizing awkward interactions with your soon-to-be partners. Remember, we do this for a living. It’s a wise choice to avail yourself of the benefit of our experience.