BACK TO THE FUTURE - Law firm leaders are currently obsessed with getting back to the office and “resuming” the collaboration, innovation and mentorship they claim were so integral to the fabric of their organizations pre-pandemic. But how much of that ever actually existed? That’s debatable. As we explore in this week’s Trendspotter column, the move to hybrid work should not be viewed as the death knell of a law firm’s culture. The reality is that it’s an opportunity to finally establish one. As firms begin to urge attorneys back to the office for at least part of each week, the smart organizations are recognizing that the goal should not be to get back to normal, but rather to create a new, better normal in which professional development and teamwork are actually focal points and in-person work serves a unique function. I’m interested to hear what you think: What are some real, concrete steps firms can take to make sure that coming to the office actually does result in collaboration, mentorship and improved camaraderie? Let me know at [email protected].

IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME BY NOW… -  After years of clients working to trim their rosters of firms to a trusted group that understands the specific challenges of their businesses, rate hikes have some in-house counsel asking, “Dude, have you been paying attention at all?” As’s Dan Packel reports, new data from advisory and accounting firm Withum provides the latest signal that firms of all sizes intend to push up rates in the coming year. A flash survey of law firm leaders and executives found that a vast majority of firms intend to raise rates by either 1%-5% or 6%-10% for all categories of fee earners. For many leaders of in-house legal departments, this news suggests that their outside counsel just don’t get it. Ann Kappler, the executive vice president and general counsel at Prudential Financial, has been working to winnow down her list of outside firms so that 80% of Prudential’s legal work goes to roughly 30 firms who, theoretically, should be fully invested in the relationship. ”By that, I mean they really know our business, and they know where we’re going strategically,” she said. “Do people on our teams listen to our earning calls, and do they know what we’re driving at as a business? It’s hugely frustrating to me that my budget is being cut, but law firms are coming to me with a 10% rate increase.”

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