Center for the Study of the Legal Profession

Symposium on the Future of the Global Law Firm

APRIL 17-18, 2008

This symposium brought together scholars from a range of disciplines, legal practitioners, regulators, and consultants and experts on professional service firms to discuss a variety of forces that are likely to shape the global market for law firm services in the years to come.  Participants from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia explore issues such as the financial, organizational, and cultural dynamics of law firms; management strategies and business models in the global legal services market; law firm access to various sources of capital; and the impact of market forces on professional ethics, values, and identity.  Analysis of these issues was informed in particular by discussion of legislation in the United Kingdom authorizing nonlawyer equity investment in law firms, and of the emergence of the publicly traded law firm in Australia. Scholars and practitioners engaged in a wide-ranging dialogue that illuminated the challenges that lie ahead for law firms that aim to operate and compete on the global stage.

There is no fee to attend the symposium, but we ask that you register beforehand.  For information and registration, please contact Satrice Rigsby at 202-662-9890 or

              For reports on the symposium, go to:

             Many of the papers from the symposium are available here:



6:00-7:00 pm  Cocktail Reception, Hotung Faculty Dining Room


Gewirz Building

8:30-9:00  Continental Breakfast
9:00-9:15  Opening Remarks

Alex Aleinikoff, Dean, Georgetown University Law Center Ted Burke, Chief Executive, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

9:15-10:45  Panel 1: Dynamics of Global Competition 

This panel will discuss the main economic, social and regulatory forces that are shaping the global market for legal services.  How are these forces likely to change the sources of law firm competitive advantage?  What challenges will they present for law firms?  What will it mean to "succeed" in this market?


Peter Sherer, Professor, Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, Predicting the Future of Large US Corporate Law Firms: AmLaw 2025

Stephen Mayson, Professor, Legal Services Policy Institute, College of Law of England and Wales, London, Global Law Firms: A Strategy Looking for a Market?


Richard L. Weisman, Partner; former Managing Partner, China offices, Baker & McKenzie

Mark Kirsch, Chair of Global Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Clifford Chance

Stephen Denyer, International Development Partner, Allen & Overy, Frankfurt

10:45-11:15  Break
11:15-12:45  Panel 2: Ownership and Capital Structure 

This panel will discuss the potential significance of changes in law firm ownership and access to capital markets made possible by new legislation and regulation in the United Kingdom and Europe, as well as the emergence of the publicly traded law firm in Australia.  How attractive is outside equity investment likely to be to law firms?  Which types of firms may find public ownership attractive?  Will embracing such opportunities irrevocably change law firms and the professional commitments of those within them?


Bruce MacEwen, Adam Smith, Esq., Not for Everyone?  Or the Cambrian Explosion Revisited?

Laurel Terry, Professor, Penn State Dickinson School of Law, The EU's Professional Services Competition Initiative: Is the EU Very Far Behind Australia and the UK With Respect to Publicly Traded Law Firms?


Andrew Grech, Managing Director, Slater & Gordon

Steven Mark, Legal Services Commissioner, New South Wales, Australia

Osama Rahman, Ministry of Justice, United Kingdom

12:45-2:15  Lunch on your own

Panelists' Lunch sponsored by McKenna Long & Aldridge

Speaker: Laura Empson, Professor, Cass Business School, City of London

Hotung Faculty Dining Room              

2:15-3:45  Panel 3: Ethics and Professional Values 

Non-lawyer ownership interests in law firms is prohibited in the United States by ethics rules in every jurisdiction, on the ground that such ownership will threaten lawyers' ethics and professional values.  This panel will discuss whether this is a realistic concern.  It will explore the impact of nonlawyer ownership, and public ownership in particular, on the idea of law practice as a profession with a distinctive set of responsibilities and aspirations.  How are these changes likely to affect the ways that lawyers provide services and conceptualize their professional identifies and obligations?  Are they likely to generate particular types of ethical issues and liability risks for law firms?


Christine Parker, Professor, University of Melbourne Law School, Australia, Peering Over the Ethical Precipice: Incorporation, Listing, and the Ethical Responsibilities of Law Firms

Elizabeth Chambliss, Professor, New York Law School, Law Firm General Counsel: The Paradox of Institutional Success?

John Flood, Professor, University of Westminster School of Law, Future Directions in the UK Legal Profession: Life After the Legal Services Act 2007


Anthony Davis, Lawyers for the Profession Practice Group, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP

Steven Krane, Chair, Law Firm Practice Group, Proskauer Rose; Chair, American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility

3:45-4:00  Break
4:00-5:30 Panel 4: Perspectives from Corporate Law and Finance 

This panel will examine the law firm through the lens of corporate legal and finance theory.  What insights can this scholarship on business organizations provide for law firms on issues such as organizational form, governance structure, managerial accountability, individual and entity liability, transaction costs, fiduciary duties, and relationships with stakeholders?


Larry Ribstein, Professor, University of Illinois School of Law, The Law Firm as Firm

Gordon Smith, Professor, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, Form, Function, and Fiduciary Law


Larry Mitchell, Professor, George Washington University Law School

Laura Empson, Professor, Cass Business School, City of London

Jeffrey Haidet, Chairman, McKenna Long & Aldridge

7:00 pm  Panelists' Dinner sponsored by the Clifford Chance Centre for the Management of Professional Service Firms, Said Business School, University of Oxford 

Speaker: Stuart Popham, Senior Partner, Clifford Chance

Hotung Faculty Dining Room


Gewirz Building

8:15-8:45  Continental Breakfast
8:45-9:00   Opening Remarks: Ralph Baxter, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
9:00-10:30  Panel 5: Organizational and Cultural Dynamics 

This panel will discuss how the global law firm may evolve with respect to management, innovation, organizational structure and culture, career patterns, and professional training and development.  Are there distinctive decision-making processes, political strategies, and approaches to planning and business development that are likely to emerge?


Timothy Morris, Professor and Director, Clifford Chance Centre for the Management of Professional Service Firms, Said Business School, University of Oxford, Navigating the Process of Innovation in Professional Service Firms

William Henderson, Professor, Indiana University School of Law, Are We Selling Results or Resumes? The Underexplored Linkage Between Human Resource Strategies and Firm-Specific Capital


William Perlstein, Co-Managing Partner, WilmerHale

Lee Miller, Joint Chief Executive Officer, DLA Piper

James Jones, Senior Vice-President, Hildebrandt International

10:30-11:00  Break
11:00-12:30  Panel 6: Lessons from Other Professional Service Firms 

What have been the experiences of other professional service firms with opportunities for outside investment, public ownership, and the creation of organizations whose members are engaged multiple disciplinary tasks?  How has embracing those opportunities affected the creativity, innovation, professional identity, sense of social responsibility, aspirations, and working conditions of the members of these firms?  Can law firms draw any lessons from these experiences?


Andrew von Nordenflycht, Professor, Segal Graduate School of Business, Simon Fraser University, The Demise of Professional Partnership? The Emergence and Diffusion of Publicly-Traded Professional Service Firms

Roy Suddaby, Professor, University of Alberta, School of Business, Post-Professionalism: How Multidisciplinary Accounting Firms are Reshaping Professional Institutions


Christopher Simmons, Managing Partner, Washington Metro Market, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Ward Bower, Principal, Altman Weil, Inc.

Christopher McKenna, Professor, Clifford Chance Centre for the Management of Professional Service Firms, Said Business School, University of Oxford

12:45-2:00 pm: Lunch panel on "The Globalization of Routine Legal Work: Emerging Trends and Issues," sponsored by Haynes and Boone, LLP

Hotung Faculty Dining Room

Carole Silver, Professor, Northwestern Law School, moderator

Terry Conner, Managing Partner, Haynes and Boone, LLP, Dallas Texas

Berjis Desai, Managing Partner, J Sagar and Associates, Mumbai, India

Sachin Gupta, President and CEO Inventurus Knowledge Solutions, New York and Mumbai, India

Ray Bayley, Chairman and CEO, Novus Law LLP, Chicago, London, New Delhi, Paris


The Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at Georgetown Law Center is devoted to:

    Promoting interdisciplinary scholarship on the profession informed by awareness of the dynamics of modern practice;
    Providing students with a sophisticated understanding of the opportunities and challenges of a modern legal career; and
    Furnishing members of the bar, particularly those in organizational decision-making positions, broad perspectives on trends and developments in practice.

In support of its mission, the Center sponsors symposia, research, publications, workshops, and speakers designed to foster exchanges among scholars, practitioners, and students.  The Co-Directors of the Center are Professor Mitt Regan and Professor Jeffrey Bauman.

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