This morning, I attended a session at ILTA 2014 called “Legal Market Trends” presented by Eric Laughlin, managing director, Corporate Counsel segment at Thomson Reuters, and Tommy Williams, vice president, Large Law Firms at Thomson Reuters.

Williams began the discussion by talking about what he is seeing in the large law firm space. “Growth for growth’s sake at the top end of the large law firm market is just not viable anymore,” he said. “We’ll continue to see some consolidation activities around large firms.”

He went on to say how large firms risk annoying their clients if they don’t embrace change. “The cost of doing nothing for law firms has never been greater than it is right now.”

Williams showed the audience some data from Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor product, where after the depths of 2009, we saw more demand, “but general counsels are keeping it in-house.” When looking at demand by segment, however, the mid-law segment appears to be declining, according to the data.

He went on to say that law firms are no longer competing with just themselves – there are new entrants and new ways of working (consulting firms, in-house counsels, etc.) that are transforming the competitive environment.

“We are seeing a big ‘de-bundling’ of legal services,” said Williams. “Some practice areas are becoming unbundled, where the component parts are being mapped and analyzed for efficiency. In-house counsel will do it, either themselves or through alternative legal providers.” He noted that medium-sized U.S. firms aren’t experiencing this dynamic as much as UK firms, though.

Laughlin then went through some metrics that legal departments are tracking using Thomson Reuters Serengeti software. Number one was legal spend as percent of revenue and total expense (68.2% of law firms track that metric). They also track against specific initiatives, they want to know the other sources of value they provide (i.e., HR trainings), and at a macro-level, they track how much money they’re saving when they catch compliance violations.

“Time keeper tracking is something a lot of our clients are getting more interested in,” according to Laughlin. “Project success depends on assembling the right team and monitoring the allocation of work.”

So what is Thomson Reuters doing about it? “We are trying to help grow the business, manage it more effectively, and practice more efficiently,” said Williams. “We are at that stage where synergy between our products help get the work done in better ways.”

Williams talked about Thomson Reuters assets such as the Thomson Reuters Intelligence Center, which is a dashboard that gives docketing and geographical data on clients, and Practical Law, which provides rich “know-how” to lawyers within existing applications, such as Drafting Assistant Transactional. Clients get the benefits of the software and the benefits of the content, according to Williams. He also touched on the Elite Business Management Solution, which provides business development, financial management, client and matter management, and risk management to solutions.

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