To start out, can you tell me about the current legal climate pertaining specifically to your practice area?
Let me give you a little background. I’m the co-managing partner of FordHarrison, and we are a management-side labor and employment law boutique firm. When I’m looking at the environment, I focus on the market for labor and employment law services.
I think that the market—from the private practice side—is changing for several reasons. The first change agent is technology. As a result of technology, such as artificial intelligence, we are facing very rapid change in the way we practice law in the near future. Second, we are experiencing an ongoing pricing pressure, due to the impact of EPLI, the increased level of work performed by in-house counsel, the use of RFP’s administered through inside and outside procurement departments. All of this creates a challenging environment that requires looking forward and concentrating on innovative ways to provide efficient high-level service.
You kind of talked a bit about the challenges you encounter. Do you want to delve a little deeper into that?
I think there’s going to be a significant amount of change driven by technology across the whole practice of law that will greatly impact how we bring in and train young lawyers. This is of particular concern to those of us in the practice of labor and employment law. We know things are moving at a rapid pace. Therefore, we constantly monitor technological changes and are prepared to engage, implement, and adapt to these changes. We believe this approach will make the difference between success and failure going forward.
What do you believe are some qualities of your firm that have made it so successful thus far?
First and foremost, our firm culture has enabled us to attract really good people. Although we have a national footprint, and through lus Laboris, we have a global footprint, we are still at a size that allows us to know each other. Therefore, we have a good understanding of each other’s skills, and this allows us to engage the best lawyer in the firm to meet the client’s needs. I think it makes a big difference in client service when the lawyers at a law firm have the kind of knowledge we have of each other’s capabilities. Our firm culture encourages a willingness among our lawyers to pitch in. The first question we ask each other is “How can I help?” Our culture has led to our success as it has allowed people to thrive and to develop. In the end, it all comes down to being able to attract and retain the good people, and our firm culture is the key.
What sorts of achievements to you see in the firm’s future?
Our goal is to continue to grow at a pace within the U.S. market that is consistent with finding the right people and building upon our international capabilities. We are not going to grow for pure growth’s sake or to merely add numbers. We will grow strategically in markets with the right people, and not just so we can make an announcement that we have opened a new office. I also strongly believe that our ability to provide services on a global basis through our membership and lus Laboris will help us grow and differentiate our firm. Our global practice has grown substantially in the last three years, and we believe it has great potential. Finally, we are committed to staying on top of technology, continuing to have our people certified in the use of technology, and to be prepared to adopt the technology at the right time so that we can continue to provide the highest level of quality and service to our clients in a cost-effective manner.