Kicking things off on Tuesday morning were Bill Burch, Elisabet Hardy, and Eric Sugden, all executives with Thomson Reuters Elite, at the opening keynote. After welcoming guests, Burch turned things over to Hardy, who talked about the various Elite products that will be demoed throughout the week. A highlight was the Elite Conversion Engine, which reduces conversion timeframes by 50 percent. Business Development Premier was also showcased in the keynote, with Hardy noting, “we believe that our new product, Business Development Premier, is the right product to help you expand your business.” Sugden then took to the stage to put a technology slant on all the topics that Hardy discussed.

Following the keynote, the Vantage Executive Summit took place, where industry leaders discussed the legal profession. The first presenter was Alex D’Amico, associate principal with McKinsey & Company, who discussed industry and market trends. According to D’Amico, over the next 5-10 years, advanced analytics will change the way many firms operate. He also talked about long term performance (a decade or more) and organizational health – the healthiest companies return three times more to their eliteshareholders over a nine-year timeframe. He ended his discussion by talking about innovation being at the core of client service.

Then a panel discussed the future of law firms. Panelists included Larry Barden, chairman, Sidley Austin LLP; Brad Karp, chairman, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP; R. Bradford Malt, chairman, Ropes & Gray; Michael McAlevey, vice president and general counsel, Legal Operations and Business Development, GE Aviation; and Roger Meltzer, co-chairman, Americas, global chair, Corporate and Finance Practice with DLA Piper LLP. Topics included:

  • Is bigger better? (the panelists agreed that the short answer to this question is “no.”)
  • What is the practical meaning of the “clients calling the shots?”
  • What will be the best ways to utilize business intelligence and sell to clients?
  • Why risk management will have a bigger role in the next few years
  • How will “disrupters” change practice for firms of all sizes? (take into account the demographic shifts with aging partners and new millennials coming in – they care about different things)
  • Why does culture matter? (“Culture is probably the most important ingredient we have at our firm”)
  • How will the conversation around diversity change the equation for law firm governance and structure?

The next panel was around the future of corporate law departments. McAlevey was joined by Richard H. Walker, global general counsel for Deutsche Bank AG, for a discussion on how the role of general counsel looks today and how it will look in the years to come.

After lunch, Serrin Turner, assistant U.S. attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, and Judith Germano, founding member of GermanoLaw LLC, discussed law firm cyber risks from their perspective in working with the government. They were then joined on a panel to discuss the same topic with Eric Sugden, chief technology officer, Thomson Reuters Elite; Ryan Alban, director of Strategic Administrative Initiatives with DLA Piper; Mark Connelly, chief information security officer, Thomson Reuters; James Kaplan, partner, McKinsey & Company; Peter Lesser, director of Global Technology, Swadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; Stuart Levi, partner, Intellectual Property and Technology, Swadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; MacDonnell Ulsch, managing director, U.S. Advisory Practice, PwC. The panel discussed such topics as:

  • Defining cyber crime in the law firm context: Data breaches, hacking and trade secrets
  • Who and what types of threats are most significant (employee access to secure information is high on the list – a culture of awareness is extremely important)
  • Firm governance: To what extent should law firm, leadership be involved/informed of cyber risk? (It’s not a matter of “if” your firm will experience a cyber risk anymore. It’s a matter of “when.”)
  • Technology challenges: How advances in technology are adding to law firm cyber risk
  • Incident response strategies including who is on the team: Crisis management plans and activation
  • Risk management oversight including training and outside consultants
  • Intellectual property issues
  • Regulatory issues: How changes in government regulations will impact law firm security

Finally, Susan Taylor Martin, president of the Legal business of Thomson Reuters, offered closing remarks. Watch for a separate post on her remarks soon.