By Patrick Dransfield

“What I am looking for from external counsel is assistance in areas of risk anticipation, industry-specific discussion and also lobbying.”  Head of legal, Singapore

The quote above is one opinion of 60 recently conveyed to the In-House Community by a senior in-house counsel. The desire as expressed for law firms to step up to the plate and provide cogent and effective crisis management advice has also been mentioned directly to me by a managing partner of a leading international law firm and the Asia general counsel of a leading global technology company just in the past last week. I am delighted to hear it as it chimes with one of the points I make in The Weekly Podcast with Richard Levick [*see more below] regarding what a chief marketing officer of a law firm should be doing right now.

Sad to say then that the external legal profession missed advising clients effectively in the lead up to all three of the last major global crises — the dotcom crisis of 2000, the global financial crisis of 2008 and our present Covid-19 pandemic. Effective crisis management is just one of six major areas that law firms need to improve to survive, according to in-house counsel. All six vital areas of improvement will be disclosed and vigorously debated during our exclusive webinar, Beyond Black Swan: Positioning the Law Firm for the ‘New Normal’, which we will be hosting ‘live’ on Tuesday June 30 at 4pm Hong Kong / China time.

It is very clear to me that it is the law firms with adaptive senior management that will survive. The best way to ensure that your firm is one of the winners is to listen and learn from what the buyers of legal services are telling you. Or, to put this as urgently as the current crisis requires and as did President Clinton during his presidential campaign: “It’s the clients, stupid”.

“Law firm leaders know that their clients are demanding change. But change what?  The legal industry urgently requires guidance form senior in-house counsel.” Paul Smith, head of professional services at Calls9 and former global chairman of Eversheds-Sutherland, author and legal innovator.

In-house counsel actually want external law firms to both survive and prosper. But quite understandably, clients say law firms should improve if they wish to remain relevant. And, as with many other things, Covid-19 is proving an accelerator of certain trends we have seen in the market for quite some time. And business practices, cultures and behaviours that were once tolerated pre- Covid-19 will have no place in the “New Normal”. So, if you are involved in external law firm management, I cordially invite you to be on the right side of history and register to Beyond Black Swan: Positioning the Law Firm for the “New Normal”.

*Introduction to the podcast

For many of us, the move to virtual platforms has been a steep learning curve. One lesson I am happy to share is to know whether the chosen platform is audio or video. The following podcast is audio only and was chronologically the first recorded of our new series, The Weekly with Richard Levick. I had prepared a visual aid to illustrate the various economic scenarios resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and it is:


Excuses over. I do hope you find some helpful advice in listening to the discussion between Richard Levick and me as we discuss what the chief marketing officer of a law firm should be doing right now — for the crisis management board of their firms, for other stakeholders for clients and for society at large.

Listen to the podcast here

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