Personnel-oriented law firms | Financial Times


The law firms presented here are included for their strategies to expand and differentiate their law firms, to acquire more major clients and mandates, and to prepare for long-term success.

Some have prioritized investments in emerging industries and digital transformation, and three are based on the west coast, reflecting the importance of big tech to the law.

Ira Coleman stood out for his response to the most pressing challenge facing law firms: how to attract, retain, and retain employees. As he has shown, investing in their health and well-being can also fuel business growth.

Profiles compiled by RSGI researchers and FT editors. “Winner” indicates the organization has won an FT Innovative Lawyers 2021 Award

WINNER: Ira Coleman, Chair, McDermott Will & Emery

© Gittings Photography

“Fun” is not a word that often appears in the strategy of top law firms. However, as managing partner of the firm’s Miami office and since 2017 company-wide chairman, Ira Coleman pushed the idea that excellent performance should be accompanied by authenticity, happiness and fun.

Initiatives include a mindfulness credit program that allows attorneys to devote up to 25 billable hours each year to practicing mindfulness. A monthly satisfaction survey is used to measure attorneys’ satisfaction levels.

The firm’s focus on clients, productivity and satisfaction resulted in exceptional sales growth between 2017 and 2020. It also received the highest job satisfaction scores in various US law firm surveys.

Douglas Clark, Managing Partner, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Douglas Clark

© Tschad Ziemendorf

Wilson Sonsini, headquartered in Silicon Valley, works for technology companies of all sizes, from startups to many of the world’s largest corporations.

As managing partner, Douglas Clark has been leading investments in new technologies and the development of technology-based legal services since 2012 and sees these as essential for the firm’s growth.

Clark came up with the idea for SixFifty, a subsidiary founded in 2019 that provides automated legal services to clients, including startups and small businesses.

It develops and sells inexpensive legal advice and advice as well as documents created with software. Other offerings include tools for creating employee handbooks and ensuring compliance with data protection laws.

Robert Insolia, Chairman, Goodwin Procter

Robert Insolia

© Matt Furman

As chairman of Goodwin Procter since 2019 and managing partner since 2012, Robert Insolia has led the company through steady growth over the past five years – the result of a strategy to conquer new markets.

In particular, Insolia has focused on the convergence of technology with other industries including real estate, financial services and private equity.

As technology increasingly changes business areas, the company has quickly adapted and built up expertise.

Clients are now turning to the firm’s lawyers for strategic advice on financing or appointing officers and directors. For example, the company’s GOOD Directors program helps match companies with potential new board members from diverse backgrounds.

Alan Mason, Global Managing Partner, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Alan Mason

© Leaflet

Alan Mason has played a leadership role in developing the company’s US strategy, which has resulted in dramatic growth in size and profile.

UK-based law firms previously struggled to compete for the largest US clients. But that is changing for Freshfields after a series of high profile hires and a new office in Silicon Valley. When Mason became Global Managing Partner earlier this year, he moved from Paris to become the first global leader for the US-based firm. The firm now regularly wins complex mandates from large companies, including Google.

Mason has also made a priority of hiring a more diverse mix of attorneys. The company is well on the way to achieving its goals: women make up a third of its partners in the US, while almost a fifth are ethnic.

Tessa Schwartz, managing partner, Morrison & Foerster

Tessa Schwartz

As an intellectual property attorney and company-wide managing partner, Tessa Schwartz builds the firm’s reputation for working on high-profile deals for large technology clients. This includes advising Salesforce on the $ 27.7 billion acquisition of Slack. The size of the deals combined with the new technology requires a new legal rethinking of intellectual property, antitrust and commercial strategies.

Under Schwartz, the company is changing its approach to this work to focus on hiring and hiring teams rather than individuals. Schwartz prioritizes the importance of relationships and networks.

She also oversees projects aimed at creating a greater sense of connection between colleagues and greater knowledge sharing across the company.


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