With 2017 coming to a close, The Practice completes its third full year of publication. With each year, The Practice has continued to grow and mature on the strength of the Center on the Legal Profession’s world-class research, the crucial insights provided by academics and practitioners from across the world, and the curiosity of individuals like you—the reader. None of this would be possible without your participation, and we would like to express our deepest thanks for your readership and support.
It was a busy year for The Practice. Over the course of 2017, we have published issues on topics ranging from strategy in the law to access to justice to why law firms collapse. Each issue highlighted original empirical research on the profession housed on our updated website. Indeed, the eponymous story of our March 2017 issue—John Morley’s “Why Law Firms Collapse”—offered fresh data and analysis on the pattern of law firm failures, partner runs, and the bonds that keep firms together. The following issue’s lead story—“Postrecession Strategies”—turned to the question of how law firms approach strategy. Using a two-by-two matrix of lawyer head count and revenue per lawyer, Bob Couture’s research on market segmentation in the Am Law 100 showed that no matter what your strategy is, you better have one. Our July issue released the latest data from the Center on the Legal Profession on black alumni of Harvard Law School, drawing from responses to a carefully crafted survey to present findings on the significance of race in the careers of black lawyers. As the issue’s lead story— “Intersectionality and the Careers of Black Women Lawyers”—explored, there is a need for more fine-tuned understandings of race and gender in the profession, particularly where the two intersect. This is the kind of empirical, objective, and exclusive research that you can expect with every issue of The Practice.
One of the most popular sections of the publication has been Speaker’s Corner, in which we invite leaders and experts to discuss the theme of the issue. In choosing our Speaker’s Corner guests, we endeavor to find voices that are as smart as they are interesting, and often ones to which those in the legal profession might not otherwise be exposed. Our latest Speaker’s Corner—“Quiet Leadership”—offers a prime example: Susan Cain, bestselling author of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, discusses leadership in the legal profession with the Center’s faculty director (and her former professor!). Each issue of The Practice approaches its topic from many sides, and with Speaker’s Corner, readers step outside the profession to discover and examine yet another angle.
The past year has also seen significant steps forward for The Practice as a publication. First, we updated the layout and mechanics of our website. On the homepage, you will now see features such as a “Most Read” section, upcoming Center on the Legal Profession events, and social media feeds. We have also made the reading experience more streamlined with intuitive navigation menus. Like our content, this new design emphasizes the clarity and precision that you have come to associate with The Practice. Second, we introduced new ways of subscribing to The Practice. All our content is now available to readers, subject to a defined viewing limit. If you exceed that limit, you will be asked to become a digital subscriber with full, unlimited access. Finally, we are pleased to announce the introduction of corporate subscriptions, through which all members of your company can gain access to The Practice simply by entering their organizational email addresses. In short, we have modernized our subscription process. (More information can be found here.) All this was done to provide our fast-growing readership the smoothest possible experience navigating our website and exploring all the content we have produced since the publication first began.
In this 2017 Year-End Report, we bring together many of the themes we covered this year as well as thoughts on what 2018 might bring for the global legal profession through a series of short videos delivered by David B. Wilkins, the Lester Kissel Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the faculty director of the Center on the Legal Profession. Looking to the future, Professor Wilkins draws attention to three major forces that will help define 2018: the use of technology and other forms of innovation; the globalization of the legal services market, particularly in developing nations; and the combined effects these forces will have on legal education as it prepares lawyers for the future. We hope that you find these brief videos informative and helpful in your practice.
For the upcoming year, The Practice has an exciting lineup on deck. Following the recent publication of the Center’s comprehensive book on the Indian legal profession, our January 2018 issue will present some of this exclusive research. Other topics to come include quality metrics in law, innovation in the legal profession, the lawyer identity, and the state of pro bono work. If you have ideas for other topics, we want to hear from you, so reach out and tell us what you would like to learn more about!
Offering deeply substantive content is integral to our mission. It is a fundamental strength and a core value of our publication. As we move into our fourth full year of publication, we repeat our ongoing request: Keep reading, and keep contributing your thoughts, ideas, and comments. The Practice is what it is because we are able to talk to, and learn from, those in the field.
We hope that you continue to enjoy The Practice and wish you a peaceful and productive new year.
The Practice Team