Successful Collaboration Between Law Firms and Legal Departments: The Real Next Frontier!

The Rise of Legal Operations and Opportunities for Transformation and Innovation


  • 05 December, 2018
  • 08:45 - 17:30
  • 450 N Cityfront Plaza Drive, Chicago, IL, 60603, United States ()

Additional taxes may be applicable


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8:30AM Registration & Continental Breakfast 

The Rise of Legal Ops: The Future is NOW 
It’s too late for your firm to be an "early adopter" of legal 
operations ... but your law firm or legal department doesn’t have to be a “late adopter” or a "laggard" either. This opening discussion is focused on Legal Operations – it’s here to stay and the number of law firms taking a proactive stance to leverage operations with clients and targeted potential clients is steadily, albeit slowly, increasing. Find out how companies and law firms are embracing conversations about how to create better and more efficient relationships with one another. 

Merry Neitlich, Managing Partner, EM Consulting 

10:30AM Networking Coffee Brea

The Bridge Between Process Improvement (PI) and Project Management (PM) & Opportunities for Transformation and Innovation 
Efficiency is about doing the right things, the right way, the first time—every time! It is the combination of PI and PM that enables us to have excellent processes that are managed well; one without the other only produces an excellent process that isn’t managed well or a project that is managed well but still relies on a broken process.  Employed together, they: 

  • support unparalleled teamwork and communication 
  • reduce wasteful activities 
  • improve quality 
  • allow us to discover best practices 
  • and increase value 

There has never been a better time to develop competitive advantages through the delivery of greater client value. Discover an original approach to improving legal and business processes that combines various PI and PM methodologies. Learn about an award-winning business transformation process that brings together cross-functional, cross-organizational teams to develop both rapid and lasting improvements. Through the presentation of a case study, we’ll examine how the Legal WorkOut® changes the way legal and business professionals (and clients, legal departments and law firms) collaborate to innovate, improve processes, increase efficiency, and deliver greater value in a way that benefits everyone. Learn how to profit by 
combining accumulated and new knowledge to tackle market opportunities and embrace new paths to a better present and profitable future. 

Catherine Alman MacDonagh, JD, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Legal Lean Sigma Institute, Adjunct Professor, Suffolk Law School and George Washington University, Masters in Law Firm Management 

Timothy B. Corcoran, Principal, Corcoran Consulting Group, LLC 

12:30PM Networking Luncheon 

Legal Design Thinking 
Innovation can be thought of as a clearly defined process that can lead to new and effective ways to serve clients, save money, or accomplish a goal in a novel way. Similar to a process for business development or preparing for trial, Legal Design Thinking is process of both art and science—providing a road map to develop new ways of solving complex problems and delivering service. This workshop includes an introduction to “LDT” and concludes with a mini “hackathon” where participants will go through the process from beginning to end to design something new. Using real-life issues, participants will experience a mini-version of the design thinking process, resulting in a prototype, ready for testing. Then, we will ‘debrief’ the process to reinforce learning outcomes, and help with applicability of the process. 

Mark Beese, President, Leadership for Lawyers, LLC and Adjunct Faculty, 
University of Denver School of Law 

3:00PM Networking Coffee Break 

A Corporate Perspective: What Clients Really Want 
In this illuminating discussion participants will gain a ‘real’ understanding of the issues facing corporate counsel – from more with less, and right-sourcing, to developing and retaining the leaders of the future. We will also demonstrate how systems thinking (lean) and design thinking can help ‘the legal eco system’ imagine a future state (that addresses these issues).  Attendees will also hear practical examples of successful implementation at National Grid and other organizations, as well as tried and tested tools and short cuts—including creative problem-solving techniques, change  management and program management.  Participants will leave the session knowing what really works to start a value-adding transformation. 

Mo Zain Ajaz, COO and General Counsel at National Grid and Legal 
Optimisation consultant at LEx 360

Wrap-Up / Q & A 
This concluding session is designed to summarize, synthesize, debate, question and answer any of your “real world” challenges and 


Full Description

What are legal department’s biggest pain points in working with outside firms?

Since we know that only 25% of the Fortune 500 in-house legal departments are seriously engaged in legal operations, there is a huge opportunity for law firms and the remaining 75% of legal departments to work together to create better efficiencies, predictability in fees and true innovation of services.

As one innovative in-house counsel (who has been implementing successful legal operations for two years) put it:

“Everybody keeps saying the legal services industry is at a tipping point; that it’s so broken, radical change is badly needed. But until recently, nobody had taken the time to try to define what kind of comprehensive change was  needed. No one had tried to set forth what true north is for this industry.”

Ark Group’s Successful Collaboration Between Law Firms and Legal Departments: The Real Next Frontier places law firms and in-house counsel in the same room, to begin to synthesize, together what legal operations encompasses, and other concepts that can improve engagements, working relationships and the delivery of services.

Attendees of this full-day program will gain an understanding of legal operations, how it’s evolving and why clients (i.e. legal departments) are now the general contractors of legal work. Featuring discussion topics such as:

  • The Rise of Legal Ops: The Future is NOW
  • The Bridge Between Process Improvement (PI) and Project Management (PM) & Opportunities for Transformation and Innovation
  • Legal Design Thinking
  • A Corporate Perspective: What Clients Really Want

It’s no longer the law firm calling the shots. But there has never been a better time to develop competitive advantages through the delivery of greater client value. Discover an original approach to improving legal and business processes that combine various process improvement and project management methodologies.

It’s too late for your firm to be an "early adopter" of legal operations ... but your law firm or legal department doesn’t have to be a “late adopter” or a "laggard" either. The number of law firms taking a proactive stance to leverage operations with clients and targeted potential clients is steadily, albeit slowly, increasing.

We hope you will join us, along with your industry peers this coming December in Chicago, as we collectively address changes in the way legal and business professionals (clients, legal departments and law firms) collaborate to innovate, improve processes, increase efficiency, and deliver greater value in a way that benefits everyone.

Don’t forget - Following this conference on December 6th & 7th, 2018 Ark Group is also hosting a Legal Lean Sigma® and Project Management Yellow Belt Certification Course

Legal Lean Sigma® and Project Management Yellow Belt Certification Course 

December 6-7th // Gleacher Center // Chicago

This two-day certification course hosted by Catherine Alman MacDonagh, and Timothy B. Corcoran, introduces participants to the leading-edge of Process Improvement and Project Management. This program is comprised of lectures, exercises, simulations, videos, discussions, group, and table-team work, and demonstrations incorporating examples and case studies from the legal profession. 

The course is constructed so that each table-team engages in exercises that facilitate the ability to learn and apply concepts and tools in the context of on a specific legal or business process. This way, what is learned is immediately useful and highly relevant. 

You won’t want to miss this! Details and discounts can be found here




Top industry speakers

Catherine Alman MacDonagh

Catherine is a former corporate counsel and law firm executive. She now teaches and provides training and consulting services with a focus on marketing and business development, strategy, process improvement, project management, and operational and process excellence. In her practice, FIRM Guidance, she serves as “trusted advisor to the trusted advisors,” whether training, coaching, or developing competitive advantages. She is also Chief Enthusiasm Officer of Mocktails LLC, which offers experiential networking training programs, including The Legal Mocktail. A Legal Lean Sigma® Black Belt and a certified Six Sigma Green Belt, Catherine is the CEO and a Founder of the Legal Lean Sigma Institute, which offers consulting and the first and only process improvement and project management certifications, courses, and workshops designed specifically for the legal profession.

Catherine is an adjunct professor at Suffolk Law School and at George Washington University (Master’s in Law Firm Management) and a frequent guest lecturer at other academic institutions. She is the author of Lean Six Sigma for Law Firms and the co-author of The Woman Lawyer's Rainmaking Game and The Law Firm Associate's Guide to Personal Marketing and Selling Skills. She is a contributing author to six books: Redefining Matter Management: A Best Practice Guide to Improving Processes and Profitability; The Lawyer’s Guide to Project Management; The Bigger Picture: Driving Client Value Through Collaboration; The Lawyer’s Guide to Process Improvement; and The Procurement Handbook.

Catherine is a founder of both the Coalition of Professional Services Providers and the Legal Sales and Service Organization, which presents the annual LSSO’s RainDance Conference. Honors and awards Catherine has received include: Fellow, College of Law Practice Management; Legal Marketing Association Hall of Fame (the association’s highest honor); Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40; two years on the prestigious MLF 50 (Marketing the Law Firm Top 50) List; and several Legal Marketing Association Your Honor Awards. 

Timothy Corcoran

Tim Corcoran is a principal with the Corcoran Consulting Group, He advises law firm leaders, in-house counsel, and legal service providers on how to profit during a time of great change. This includes assisting law firm leaders with business strategy, primarily in the areas of operational excellence and business growth, and assisting in-house counsel manage preferred provider programs. He also advises legal service providers on market dynamics and sales force readiness. He is an expert on law firm and in-house counsel relations.

Mark Beese

Mark Beese, President, Leadership for Lawyers, LLC and Adjunct Faculty, University of Denver School of Law Mark is President of Leadership for Lawyers, LLC, a consultancy focused on helping lawyers become better leaders and business developers. He provides training, coaching and consultation to firms in the areas of leadership development, business development and marketing with law firms across North America. His clients range from small, single office firms to global Amlaw 100 firms.

Mark serves as on-call faculty at the Center for Creative Leadership, primarily involved in the design and delivery of bespoke and open enrollment leadership development programs for professionals, including lawyers, accountants, consultants and executives. He focuses on issues of change leadership, team development, influence, cross-generation issues, collaboration, innovation and design thinking. He is a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. In 2014 he was inducted into the Legal Marketing Association Hall of Fame, one of only 25 leaders to have received this honor.

He is the former Chair of the Lawyer Leadership Committee of the American Bar Association, Law Practice Management Division. He is also a professional member of the International Leadership Association, the National Speakers Association, the Legal Marketing Association and the College of Law Practice Management. Mark has more than 25 years experience as a chief marketing officer for professional services firms. He has served as Chief Marketing Officer for Holland & Hart, a 450-attorney law firm based in Denver, Director of Marketing for the New York law firm of Hodgson Russ and Director of Marketing for Kideney Architects in Buffalo, NY. Mark is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Denver Sturm School of Law, where he teaches Strategic Marketing and Business Development.

He is certified and trained to administer several assessments, including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), DiSC, the Change Style Instrument (CSI), Influence Style Indicator (ISI) and the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) among many other assessments and coaching tools. Mark has received numerous awards including “Marketing Director of the Year” from the Marketing Partner Forum, the “IQ Award” for innovation by the Boulder County Business Report, five “Your Honor Awards” from the Legal Marketing Association, the PR Legal News Award and the ABA Law Practice Management Magazine Edge Award.

Mark received his B.S. and M.B.A. (cum laude) from the University of Buffalo. He is a former international board member of the Legal Marketing Association and past president of the Rocky Mountain Legal Marketing Association. He is a past chair of the Marketing Committee of Terralex, an international association of law firms in 93 countries. He served as a faculty member of the Marketing Directors Institute and is a frequent speaker at the Marketing Partner Forum and Legal Marketing Association conferences. He has spoken to dozens of LMA and ALA Chapters throughout the United States. He is a frequent contributor to law practice management publications.

Merry Neitlich

Merry Neitlich is the founder and managing partner of EM Consulting, a leader in law firm marketing and business development solutions. With over 25 years of experience, Merry provides clients with tools to grow relationships and successfully identify, court and convert targets into clients. She consults with law firms wishing to overcome resistance and implement successful legal operations programs. Merry has extensive experience coaching attorneys in business development in order to grow their practices. She has interviewed hundreds of in-house counsels across the country for law firm clients in order to enhance relationships and client satisfaction. Merry offers training programs in business development, legal operations, client retention and satisfaction programs. In 2017, Merry was inducted into the LMA Hall of Fame and was inducted into the College of Law Practice Management in 2012.


Mo Zain Ajaz

Mo Zain Ajaz is an intrapreneur working for National Grid plc as a GC and COO as well as the founder of LEx360, a legal optimisation consultancy.  

Recognised as one of the six in-house role models for the Financial Times 2018 as the ‘Purchaser’, being in the Hot 100 for the Lawyer Magazine in 2016, as well as being recognised for his contribution for numerous industry awards include best in-house team of the year 2017 and best legal technology adoption.

Mo is a Director of global energy giant with responsibilities for the legal function, change, process and communications. A practicing lawyer with deep experience in environmental, real estate and planning law. Holding a MBA from the prestigious Warwick Business School and a Masters degree in Science in Lean Enterprise from Buckingham University with a Distinction. 

As part his consultancy work he has helped numerous GC’s undertake strategic reviews, efficiency and people development programmes, process optimisations, legal technology deployments and outside counsel best practice reviews.  In addition, he has helped law firms in client journey improvements, alignment of service delivery, process optimisation, what clients want and pricing strategies. 

Mo is also the chair of Winmark’s Centre of Legal Operational Excellence, a regular writer for Thompson Reuters and Legal Business World and an active member of CLOC and ACCA.  Mo has presented key notes in Spain, Ireland, England, New York and Scotland.



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