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Live from TechShow: Brian Ritchey of LexisNexis

March 13, 2008

The ABA TechShow has kicked off in Chicago, and our eyes and ears on the ground there are providing live coverage of the event through interviews with attendees and participants.

The first of such interviews, conducted just moments ago, is with Brian Ritchey of LexisNexis. Brian, who formerly served as Regional Vice President at Juris until the company was purchased by LexisNexis in mid-2007, also writes the blog MorePartnerIncome.

Brian took five minutes out of his schedule to chat with us briefly, the results of which are available after the jump. Don’t forget to keep watching this space over the next few days for more live reporting from TechShow 2008.

1. Rob La Gatta: What are you doing at TechShow? Why did you decide to come?

Brian Ritchey: I came here, number one, to learn a little bit more about what’s going on with the industry and to sit in on some of the presentations. I’m also speaking on benchmarking and key performance metrics that affect profitability in law firms on Friday, and going over our 2007 Law Firm Economic Survey.

2. Rob La Gatta: What are your impressions of TechShow so far? Today is the first day of actual events, correct?

Brian Ritchey: Yes, and actually – in comparison to New York’s LegalTech – I’ve found that it’s just as busy; there are a lot of things going on. However, I’m noticing that the frenzied atmosphere that was going on with LegalTech is not nearly as bad here. It seems like it’s a lot easier to sit down and talk to people at TechShow.

3. Rob La Gatta: What prompted you to start blogging at MorePartnerIncome in the first place?

Brian Ritchey: Well actually, it wasn’t mine to start with: MorePartnerIncome was started by Tom Collins, who was the founder of Juris. He started [it] because he had been a part of the industry for over 30 years, and decided – as he was nearing retirement – to start sharing some of the information he’s learned over the years…to give that information to law firms to help them improve their performance, as well as to help them deal with issues such as staffing and profitability and things of that nature. I was just fortunate enough to be able to pick up on it and be able to carry it on after Tom had retired.

4. Rob La Gatta: You recently went from Regional Vice President at Juris to a member of the Practice Management Division at LexisNexis. How was that change, and what do you plan to do with the new position in the coming year?

Brian Ritchey: It was very lucky for me. When I was at [Juris], I was working more with products, doing some consulting work (but not nearly to the extent that I’d have liked to). The opportunity came once we were acquired by LexisNexis to spend more time working with other attorneys, and to do things that I believe allow me more leeway in [areas] that are of much more broad interest: being able to speak on profitability, being able to keep up with current trends and things of that nature. Before, I was very product-centric in the scope of what I was able to do.

As far as the future is concerned: we’re about to start the 2008 Law Firm Economic Survey. I believe we’re going to start it next week. And we’re broadening its scope. This year, we want to bring more attention to client development activities, as well as marketing and such, so that we can find out some of the things that law firms are doing to help them stay competitive in the marketplace, and to keep and retain their clients.

Our survey is focused on what we consider the five key performance drivers that affect law firm income, and those were developed by David Maister over 20 years ago. If you track these five metrics, we believe it’s going to affect partner income. And that’s the focus of the survey. But we also want to expand the reach of it to also look into regional pricing (and hopefully even at the state level, depending on how many respondents we get).

5. Rob La Gatta: With blogging taking off as it has, do you see it’s feasible that in the future, law bloggers will become the reporters, rendering legal publications and news magazines unnecessary?

Brian Ritchey: It’s funny that you mention that. I just talked to Kevin about the fact that I believe the evolution of blogging, at least in the context of those that are in the consulting aspect, [is going to make us] more like reporters. We’re scouring the Internet, looking at other people, writing about stuff. And then we’re reporting it to readers of our blog, where it has allowed law firms and other readers to not have to scour the Internet to get information.

Hopefully the standard news organizations will adapt as well, and find ways to be able to retain their readership. I do believe that the role of bloggers, as with other social networking sites, has a tremendous impact and add value to all professions…not just the law.

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