In late March, Tommy Williams, vice president Large & Medium Law Firms, and I had the opportunity to host a customer roundtable with Jim Smith, president and CEO Thomson Reuters, and Deirdre Stanley, executive vice president, General Counsel. Several managing partners from midsize law firms joined us at our Times Square office in New York City for networking, lunch and a lively discussion around hot topics such as cybersecurity, emerging technologies and the ever-changing work force.

The conversation around cybersecurity was particularly timely given the recent data breaches at several large law firms. “It’s no longer a matter of whether you’ll be breached or not, but a matter of when, ” Jim remarked, highlighting Thomson Reuters efforts around cybersecurity and offered advice to the partners on conducting simulated cybersecurity attacks and establishing a cyber response team and protocols.

Jim then shifted the discussion to emerging technologies, specifically Thomson Reuters ongoing effort to connect platforms, building for mobile environments and taking advantage of cloud technology. He also discussed the organization’s collaboration with IBM Watson and data innovation centers at MIT and Imperial College in London.

The conversation concluded with a lively discussion on Millennials in the workforce. Jim noted that 47 percent of Thomson Reuters workforce are Millennials, and perhaps more interesting, that number jumps to 65 percent in our global regions. Among the qualities Millennials look for in an organization is one where Corporate Responsibility and Inclusion is at the core of the business, which Thomson Reuters embodies through its foundation, Pro Bono Connection and volunteer programs.

This stood in stark contrast to the experience of some of the participants who expressed concerns on how Millennials are changing the makeup of the law firm environment. Gone are the days of working 80-hour work weeks to make partner – Millennials want balance and are satisfied with less money and a feeling of making an impact for the greater good. This issue will continue to play a factor as more Millennials enter the job market.

Deirdre then gave an overview of Thomson Reuters in-house lawyers and industry pressures, including the focus on reducing fees, evaluating cost structures and in-sourcing work, where possible. The panel agreed that as firms place more focus on specialty areas, midsize firms should be poised to capitalize on this need by differentiating themselves from larger firms that may lack specialization.

This post was written by Charlotte Rushton, Thomson Reuters managing director, Large & Medium Law Firms.

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