In response to questions about their financial metrics compared to other peer firms, both Kalis and Jordan said it was not a fair comparison. They each noted it is important to know where a firm started from and not just where it is now. Jordan said Reed Smith was ranked 100th in the various metrics tracked on the Am Law 100 when he took over as managing partner and said he has a "great sense of progress" for the firm in the last decade or so.
Kalis said the only important metric is market share, which is often expressed in the form of gross revenue. He said the most important thing is to look at firms' compound annual growth rate.
Kalis said the firm will keep growing until the market doesn't dictate the need for growth anymore.
"I still think we're in the relatively early days in the transformation of the industry," Jordan said, adding the premium is on lawyers being able to do things "better, faster and cheaper."
Jordan said global companies will increasingly rely on fewer firms that can handle matters more quickly and at a lower cost. That may require, as it has already, the firm to have a physical presence in a certain time zone, he said.
"Fundamentally, it will be less about which new markets than how you use the assets you have to better effect and better deliver quality and value to clients," Jordan said.
As Kalis put it, law firms like his have "gone from single-cell organisms into fabulously complex enterprises with many, many moving parts."
Kalis has until 2017, and Jordan until 2015, to figure out where those parts will move next.