Drinker Biddle

Have you ever heard of a “chief value officer”? Let’s assume your answer is “no,” because you don’t spend your free time reading synergistic white papers produced by McKinsey & Co. But that’s something the good people at Drinker Biddle would like to change. The Legal Intelligencer reports that Drinker Biddle is creating a new position to help the firm focus on client value:

If in a push for efficiency law firms are changing the way they offer their services, it’s only logical that how they market those services needs to change as well.

That’s a concept not lost on Drinker Biddle & Reath, which, after scaling back what it calls its client relations department over the last four years, is ready to grow it in a different way after widely restructuring the department’s functions.

The restructuring is highlighted by the appointment of Chicago-based Kristin Sudholz as the firm’s first-ever chief value officer.

You gotta ask yourself: What kind of economy are we living in where a professional services firm needs to create an executive position to make sure clients receive value for the services they purchase? It’s almost like a automobile manufacturer needing to create a “chief driving officer” to oversee consumers’ ability to actually drive the product.

The thing is, I’m almost positive GM does have an executive in charge of “drivability” or something. So maybe this Drinker Biddle idea isn’t totally off the wall…

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A year ago, Howrey announced that it was slashing first-year starting salaries and radically changing its first-year program. Drinker Biddle had adopted a similar “apprenticeship” approach a few weeks before Howrey. Aside from Howrey, Drinker Biddle, and some firm in Kentucky, no other law firm has tried to sell below market salaries and intensive “training” to new recruits.

Despite the paucity of firms attempting to remake the first year experience, the press remains fascinated by the experiment. In April, the Washington Post did a feature on Howrey’s first year experiment. Today, the National Law Journal has a full breakdown of the year-old program:

Proponents hail the programs as a positive step away from the sink-or-swim environment many young attorneys encounter when they show up at large firms, and as a practical response to the growing cost-consciousness of clients. The firms bill at much lower rates or not at all for work performed by the apprentices, who earn lower salaries than the industry standard.

The three firms that have gone in this direction claim that the apprenticeships are working. But since nobody is following their lead, it’s evident that the rest of Biglaw is not at all convinced…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Press More Fascinated By Apprenticeship Programs than Law Firms”

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