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What’s keeping law firm CFOs up at night? — Podcast

William Josten  Senior Manager, Enterprise Content - Legal, Thomson Reuters Institute

· 5 minute read

William Josten  Senior Manager, Enterprise Content - Legal, Thomson Reuters Institute

· 5 minute read

In this week’s Thomson Reuters Institute Insights podcast, we speak to Jeff Connor, CFO of McGuireWoods and co-chair of the upcoming COO/CFO Forum, about the tough questions that law firms may be facing

Anyone who pays attention to the news has heard the questions: Are we in a recession? How long might it last? How deep will it go? How do we fix it or even define it?

Law firms often have a bit of an advantage in an economic downturn. History has shown that law firms often experience a bit of a lag before the slowdown hits them. When the economy slows, businesses often reach for their lawyers for help with taxes, real estate, litigation, staffing, or even bankruptcy.

The Great Financial Crisis is an example. While most of the rest of the economy had slowed considerably throughout 2008, law firms didn’t really feel the downturn until 2009. The same was true in 2020 during the dark times of the pandemic. As many businesses felt the effects of the pandemic and related shutdowns deeply, many law firms still experienced very strong years due in part to some smart management and a late-in-the-year spike in demand.

You can access the latest Thomson Reuters Institute Insights podcast, featuring a discussion with Jeff Connor of McGuireWoods, here.

However, it’s not enough just to see an economic slump coming, you have to prepare for it. That’s part of the job of people like Jeff Connor, Chief Financial Officer at McGuireWoods, a full-service law firm of around 1,000 lawyers in Richmond, Va.

In this week’s podcast available on the Thomson Reuters Institute channel, we speak to Connor about the tough questions that law firms may be facing in the coming months and years. Connor has more than 25 years of experience in the legal industry. Prior to joining McGuireWoods in 2015, he held senior management positions at two Am Law 100 firms, an Am Law 25 firm and a boutique firm ranked among the top 20 most profitable Am Law firms.

Jeff Connor, CFO of McGuireWoods

In the podcast, Connor discusses how much someone whose function is to manage the firm’s finances — like firm CFOs for example — spends their time thinking about challenges related to talent management. Indeed, as a co-chair of Thomson Reuters’ upcoming 21st Annual COO/CFO Forum, to be held in New York City on October 26-28, Connor is moderating a panel talk titled, Reimagining Purpose & Compensation in Modern Legal Services that takes on how law firms are managing their talent in the post-pandemic era dynamic and innovative means.

Yet, this is not to say that broader concerns over the economy, and in particular inflation aren’t causing concern among law firm leaders. In the podcast, Connor highlights some of the sessions of the coming event to which he is most looking forward, including a discussion on stress and demand in the global economy among a panel of economic experts and a roundtable discussion on US politics and foreign policy that promises to be fascinating in this election year.

And while there are far too many topics and potential solutions to cover in one 30-minute podcast, those looking for deeper insights can take advantage of the more wide-ranging discussions during the Forum that will likely touch on many of the issues confronting business professionals leading not only large law firms today, but smaller and midsize firms and other types of professional services firms more broadly.

Episode transcript. 

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