Pittsburgh – Global law firm K&L Gates LLP was the recipient of the “Law Firm of the Year” award during The Changing Lawyer Awards 2020 held late last week as part of legal workflow software company Litera’s virtual conference. The annual The Changing Lawyer Awards honor firms and others in the legal industry for their willingness to embrace and drive change—through new technology, service models, or behavior—with the “Law Firm of the Year” award recognizing the firm that has most successfully reimagined the way they serve their clients. Winners are chosen by a panel of judges from throughout the legal technology industry.
In announcing K&L Gates as the winner of this year’s award, Litera cited both the firm’s culture—which “helped weather the storms of 2020” and allowed K&L Gates “to act swiftly and anticipate and solve the problems confronting their firm and their clients”—and “focus on virtual connectivity to facilitate innovative conversations across the firm’s global platform.”
“We are extremely gratified to receive this award,” said K&L Gates’ Global Managing Partner Jim Segerdahl. “As a firm, we embody a culture of openness to beneficial change and new ideas in a profession long rooted in the status quo. At K&L Gates, we pursue constant improvement not only through the latest technology or novel approach to a client challenge, but by focusing on the importance of motivated and talented people collaborating creatively across functions, practices, and geographies to do everything better and more efficiently. This pursuit permeates our approach to client matters, to achieving excellence in all that we do, and to spurring positive action on our internal priorities and values.”
The award recognizes numerous innovative client and firm solutions—all relying on the talents and experience of both lawyers and allied professionals at the firm—K&L Gates has implemented this year in response to challenges created, in part, by the Covid-19 pandemic and other societal and industry conditions. These solutions included:
When the Covid-19 pandemic began shaping as a global disruptor, the firm was one of the first to establish a Covid-19 Task Force, with K&L Gates’ comprising both lawyers as well as allied professionals, and an online resource center to help clients navigate the legal and operational issues arising from the pandemic. Through these channels, K&L Gates has been able to share hundreds of resources and thought leadership pieces, webinars, guides, and alerts.
The shift to a predominantly virtual work environment also allowed the firm to facilitate numerous innovative conversations, including more than 50 virtual roundtables that brought together clients with other general counsel and K&L Gates lawyers and allied professionals around the globe in small, relaxed conversations; virtual interviews with senior client executives streamed globally, allowing the firm’s lawyers and allied professionals to gain valuable insights into clients’ goals and challenges; and a series of virtual practice retreats modeled after K&L Gates’ traditional annual partner retreat, but expanded to associates and allied professionals.
In response to the social injustices that occurred throughout the United States, K&L Gates began presenting ongoing one-on-one virtual “Conversations about Race” between a lawyer or allied professional and dynamic civic leaders of color, including Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP; North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley; the Hon. Bernice B. Donald for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; and Dr. Harry Williams, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. These sessions were streamed live across the firm with participation from thousands of K&L Gates’ global personnel. To deepen these discussions, the firm also created digital collaboration and educational toolkits, looking to the history of race relations to enable employees to learn and make change together.
In addition, the firm launched an equal justice pro bono effort to provide pro bono assistance in areas of particular need, such as voting rights, criminal justice reform, and the rights of indigenous peoples, with more than 250 firm lawyers already participating.
K&L Gates created a joint committee of lawyers and allied professionals focused on identifying and furthering the innovation taking place throughout the firm to enhance the value offered to clients. Known as the “Idea Group,” the committee assists with, among other areas, ensuring that ideas involving potential innovation make it to the senior levels of leadership for consideration and educating the rest of the firm and its clients about K&L Gates’ existing and future innovative endeavors.
“I am so proud to work at a firm that values, encourages, and incorporates the diversity of experiences, opinions, thoughts, and professions through open and honest discussions and interactions,” said K&L Gates’ business transformation director Melissa Speidel. “We believe our culture focusing on the human aspect of innovation—based on the tenet that ‘people innovate, technology facilitates’—both defines and helps differentiate K&L Gates as we deliver truly meaningful solutions to our clients.”
K&L Gates’ receipt of The Changing Lawyer Award is the latest demonstration of the firm’s commitment to culture, innovation, and client service, with other recent examples including the firm’s selection as a finalist in Microsoft’s most recent legal business design challenge and the implementation of several artificial intelligence programs for document, matter, and contract review. Among the latter are a multiyear partnership with the legal tech business unit of Thomson Reuters announced last year, in which K&L Gates helped to develop a new cloud-based legal workflow system that connects the practice and business of law and enables firms to predict profitability and provide better service and transparency to their clients.