Big Law Firms Aren’t Prepared For The Next Recession. Here’s What They Should Be Thinking About.

February 17, 2020

By Adam Chapman, EyeForPharma on Mar 21, 2019

Amidst the accelerating and intensifying maelstrom of complexity facing organizations in every sector, leaders frequently face “Brody Moments:” an unambiguous realization that current-course-and-speed will lead to failure and is no longer a viable option. It’s an allusion to Martin Brody, Chief of Police in Jaws who, upon getting his first up-close look at the shark that he’s hunting, slowly backs into the cabin, saying “you’re going to need a bigger boat.”

As an organizational leader, you’ve probably experienced a few Brody Moments over the course of your career, and you’ve probably got a few more coming. In a series of interviews, we will talk to experts from a variety of fields to hear about how they are confronting these moments. In Part 2, we explore Brody Moments in Law with Friedrich Blase and Hersh Perlis. Blase is an entrepreneur, business builder, mentor and legal industry expert with more than 20 years experience consulting to and working for law firms, legal departments and alternative legal service providers. Perlis is co-founder and Director of the Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University. He has worked with law firms, corporations and governments, nationally and internationally, to help better prepare them to take advantage of technology and other innovations.

David and David: What are the Brody Moments that leaders in the legal industry are experiencing today?

Hersh: Many people believe a recession will be the Brody Moment for big law, but last time there was an economic downturn that wasn’t the result, so I am not one that thinks that will be the trigger this time around.  At some point, technology may provide the Brody Moment if it hasn’t already. For the time being, big law firms exist in a monopoly/highly regulated market, so tech hasn’t forced them to change in ways we’ve seen in any other sector.

That said, in 2017, JP Morgan implemented Contract Intelligence (COIN) to automate document reviews, and took out 360,000 hours of mundane tasks for lawyers and loan officers, saving millions of dollars. Once that happened, conversations about automation started being taken more seriously and some companies started raising funds for technology. I’d call that a Brody Moment - the big banks figuring out how to reduce costs using technology instead of armies of lawyers.

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