Andrew Baer, Cozen O’Connor
Despite two years of disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, Baer has achieved remarkable successes in the areas of client service, business and pipeline development, recruitment and revenue. The group’s performance is the result, in part, of two critical innovations that Baer initially conceived at his boutique firm and then implemented at Cozen O’Connor.
The first is an intensive, hands-on training program for new attorneys. This initial “drinking from a firehose phase,” as he calls it, presents trainees with a curated reading list of regulations and statutes, differing takes on core technology and privacy-related agreements, and case studies. Andy leads seminars to deeply analyze and discuss those readings from a range of perspectives, and conducts trainings on the relevant technologies themselves, which is critical to understanding risk profiles. The second phase has trainees engage in role plays with senior counsel and participate in real-life negotiations. The key to the whole program is direct, intensive work with veteran attorneys.
The second innovation is directly tied to the first. Because the team includes more lawyers able to handle more complex assignments earlier in their careers, it is also able to offer clients more creative service packages utilizing hybrid alternative fee arrangements. Clients with high-volume needs can get access to sophisticated legal work on technology and data privacy-related agreements on a largely flat-fee basis.
Necessity is the mother of invention. What need was your firm inspired to address with your innovation?
Necessity is the mother of invention. What need was your firm inspired to address with your innovation? We found that we couldn’t recruit people with the necessary multidisciplinary experience and deep technical and operational knowledge that we needed. So we invented a way to train and develop them in-house.
Innovation within a law firm requires a strong vision and a lot of coordination internally. How was your firm able to turn a vision into a reality during such an unpredictable year?
Innovation within a law firm requires a strong vision and a lot of coordination internally. How was your firm able to turn a vision into a reality during such an unpredictable year? Most commercial relationships today implicate technology and data in some way, even if clients don’t realize it at the outset. Upon arriving at Cozen O’Connor, we immediately started marketing our practice heavily within the firm, educating existing clients about our capabilities and launching a series of webinars and CLE’s on cutting-edge privacy and data security subjects. With most in-person CLE opportunities suspended due to the pandemic and EU privacy challenges looming large in the headlines, we found a very receptive audience for our content.
What obstacles did the firm need to overcome to execute that vision?
What obstacles did the firm need to overcome to execute that vision? Recruiting and retaining talented lawyers is always a challenge, as is integrating a boutique-style practice into a large-firm rate structure. I believe we did manage to do both successfully, fielding a highly trained, world-class team and maintaining a competitive and creative billing model.