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Gina Passarella, Editor-in-Chief of The American Lawyer.

The drumbeat was steady. The observers, myself included, were relentless. External pressures on law firm business models were mounting and firms had to act fast. They just weren’t doing enough to meet new market realities—or, for some, to survive.


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Maybe they listened. Maybe they had enough of the talk. But something happened in 2017, particularly in the second half of the year, that spurred law firms to post their best gains in about a decade. Perhaps a proverbial middle finger to the critics? Perhaps the critics were dead wrong? Perhaps the industry is turning a corner that no one saw coming? Or perhaps our definitions of success have shifted in a decade?

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Gina Passarella Cipriani

Gina Passarella is editor-in-chief of The American Lawyer. She has covered the business of law for her entire career, first as a reporter and special projects editor with The Legal Intelligencer in Pennsylvania and then as senior editor for business of law in ALM's global newsroom. She took over as editor-in-chief of The American Lawyer in January 2017.

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"To every extent possible, the improvement stage should include clients. They can improve their own internal processes. The entire issue of how GCs and their internal clients work together is an under considered topic. Then it goes further. Clients can improve and be better partners to their external law firms, and they can also highlight areas for external counsel to improve, and look for the commitment of law firms to do this. Law firms which do embrace improvement initiatives from clients lay foundations with them for the next project."

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