David H. Rothman’s timely, out of the box commentary addresses the growing wave of news outlets abruptly closing down their websites, laying off staff, and in some cases, eliminating access to their respective archives. Rothman proposes an alternative to “how do I charge them enough” to stem the tide of closures, an avenue he prompts billionaire Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post, to consider. A good-sized trust or corporate equivalent would enable the Washington Post to be run as a sustainable enterprise in the public interest, rather than as a mere profit generator.
At the end of December 2023, Patrick J, Mckeena and Michael B. Rynowecer presented 200 Firm Leaders with a selection of over 40 timely and potential ‘Burning Issues’ – and asked of them “what do you anticipate as the highest priorities occupying your leadership agenda going into the new year?” The team received responses representing firms from 200 to over 2000 lawyers in size. This paper distinguishes the challenging issues for firms in 2024.
Kevin Novak offers an overview and context about key challenges to manage in 2024 including the “seduction of shiny new things,” hybrid work, data risk, and the 24/7 information barrage.
The shocking events of Jan. 6, 2021, signaled a major break from the nonviolent rallies that categorized most major protests over the past few decades. What set Jan. 6 apart was the president of the United States using his cellphone to direct an attack on the Capitol, and those who stormed the Capitol being wired and ready for insurrection. Joan Donovan and her co-authors, a media and disinformation scholar, call this networked incitement: influential figures inciting large-scale political violence via social media. Networked incitement involves insurgents communicating across multiple platforms to command and coordinate mobilized social movements in the moment of action.
Some recent headlines have reported disturbing news about respected and respectable scholars falsifying or just ignoring data conclusions in scholarly papers. This is another example of the skepticism many of us have with the shifts in misinformation flooding our inboxes and newsfeeds, compelling each of us to exercise our critical thinking skills. And the examples we’re referring to aren’t even results of AI. It is human error, strong bias at play, or manipulative intention for one purpose or another. This leads us to another topic in our continuing explorations of human motivation. Why do we lie? Why do we cheat? Kevin Novak takes a deeper dive on this discussion about the issues and the people and actions that have been in the news recently.
Will Generative AI destroy law firms? Jordan Furlong argues this may only occur if lawyers are too fixed in their ways to see the possibilities that lie beyond who we’ve always been and what we’ve always done.
Elizabeth Southerland writes that Jerry Lawson’s essay Plain English for Lawyers: The Way to a C-Level Executive’s Heart has some good ideas about the best ways to communicate with senior executives. However, there is a key imperative that is not addressed: The purpose of an executive summary is to boil this down to a few sentences that tell the leader what they want to know.
We all know that the law firm leader’s job is unlike any other in the firm. One way of envisioning its multiple responsibilities is to map them by the constituencies one must address. Today’s leader must be an ambassador to the outside world as well as chief cheerleader, challenger of the status quo, and an implementer of their partners’ collective aspirations within the firm. Patrick J. McKenna, McKenna Associates Inc., together with Michael Rynowecer, President of The BTI Consulting Group, distributed a survey containing over 35 questions to a group of some 250 law firm leaders. Their data uncovered some surprising and insightful findings. For example, they found that for 56% of today’s firm leaders, irrespective of firm size, this is a full-time commitment; with a total of 81% reporting that they “perceive the challenges that they face as being far more complex than a few years back” and 13% even freely admitting they were, “almost overwhelming at times.” Perhaps surprising to some, it is not an exaggeration to state that we have leaders of America’s largest firms managing hundred-million to billion dollar businesses, all too often thrust into the role with 67% of them having no clear job description and one in five reporting it to be a “pretty much sink or swim” exercise. Ironically, having served as an office managing partner, or even as a practice or industry group leader seemed to have absolutely minimal value in preparing one for taking on the responsibility of being leader of the entire firm.
Jordan Furlong, Legal Sector Analyst and Forecaster, presents an engaging and actionable plan for figuring out how law firms are going to work in future. Furlong states this will occupy countless partnership meetings, conference agendas, and consulting engagements all over the legal industry throughout the next several years. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers — nobody else does, either he says. We’re all just getting started. What he suggest though is that figuring out what law firms are going to become requires first letting go of what they used to be. A good start towards accomplishing that would be to abandon the antiquated titles and categories into which we’ve been cramming law firm personnel for the last hundred years.
Manhattan grand jury votes to indict Donald Trump, showing he, like all other presidents, is not an imperial king
Following news that a Manhattan grand jury had voted to indict Donald Trump, CNN’s John Miller announced on Thursday evening March 30, 3023: “I am told by my sources that this is 34 counts of falsification of business records, which is probably a lot of charges involving each document, each thing that was submitted, as a separate count.” Prof. Shannon Bow O’Brien, a presidency scholar, takes on the concept of the imperial presidency: “Throughout history, many presidents have pushed the boundaries of power for their own personal preferences or political gain. However, Americans do have the right to push back and hold these leaders accountable to the country’s laws. Presidents have never been monarchs. If they ever act in that manner, I believe that the people have to remind them of who they are and whom they serve.”