Understanding the Business Side of Law Firms

Understanding the Business Side of Law Firms

Dr. Heidi Gardner
Spring 2018 reading group
M 5:00pm - 7:00pm
1 classroom credit

Prerequisites: None

Exam type: No Exam

This course will help students understand the “business side” of today’s law firms including their fundamental strategic, operational and human components. Our aim is to equip students with the insights they need to make informed decisions about their careers and enhance their work experience as junior lawyers. We will read a mix of scholarly and popular-press materials, and also use business school style cases, multimedia content and hands-on exercises to address questions such as the following:

  1. How do law firms actually make money – and why is that model under pressure? What makes a law firm successful in the short and long term?
  2. What do clients think about the service they get from external counsel? How are clients leading changes in the legal sector? What trends are likely to accelerate, and which will most affect lawyers entering the profession?
  3. How can young lawyers learn to “think like a client,” and how does this affect the way they’ll be able to add value to legal work?
  4. What is “smart collaboration” and why should every lawyer care? When are clients willing to pay for teamwork, and when will they redline a bill with that sort of activity on it?
  5. How do law firms attract, hire, motivate, and promote professionals? How do these processes affect lawyers’ experiences including career progression, job satisfaction, diversity, and work-life balance?
  6. What strategies work best for achieving what you want from a legal career? What effect will technology have on your career? What capabilities might you need going forward, and how can you fill the gaps? What’s the difference between a role model, a mentor and a sponsor, and how do you find any of them?

Note: The class will meet on Monday evenings for 6 sessions over the course of the semester; specific dates are TBD.

Subject Areas: Procedure & Practice