McCullough quoted in 3 Biggest Threats to BigLaw article

Heather McCullough was recently quoted in a Law360 article written by Dan Packel discussing the Three Biggest Threats to BigLaw. To view complete article, click here. Excerpts of the article noting Heather’s quotes are noted below.

Law360, Philadelphia (August 24, 2015, 1:19 PM ET) — Both attorneys and their firms have historically looked to the past to find their way into the future. But one thread connects the biggest threats to BigLaw: They can be warded off by bold moves and a willingness to break with tradition.

To survive in an industry with increasingly lower margins and fewer opportunities for growth, firms must respond to the ongoing technological revolution, find ways to break the shackles of historic models of partner compensation, and resist expansion for the sake of expansion…

Here are three of the biggest threats to BigLaw.


Industries like journalism and the music business have been pounded by the onslaught of new technologies, and some experts believe the legal industry stands in line for a massive disruption…

…New entities like Axiom are leveraging strategies like process-tracking and offshoring — all enabled by substantial technological infrastructure — to create efficiencies and outcompete traditional firms on price.

Heather McCullough, a consultant with Society 54 LLC, highlighted new arrivals taking advantage of process-tracking strategies like Six Sigma to revolutionize foreclosure work along with other areas of the law.

“They’ve gotten it down to an exact science. They can work more quickly and more nimbly,” she said. “On volume-based work, they’re really taking over some of the BigLaw clients because the clients want it done cheaply.”

Then there are entities like Legal Zoom, whose services allow the public to draft wills and incorporate businesses online. All these players come on the heels of technological advances that have swallowed substantial amounts of discovery work.

But these new arrivals and other legal process outsourcing businesses shouldn’t doom BigLaw if firms are proactive.


While law firm growth has traditionally been linked with success, size can provide its own set of challenges. As firms look to span the nation, and even the globe, they should be aware that such expansion threatens internal unity and doesn’t necessarily provide what clients are seeking.

“A lot of times, these are just a series of silos sharing the same logo,” said Timothy Corcoran of the Corcoran Consulting Group.

Growth motivated by the desire to serve clients, rather than for the sake of growth, can be a viable strategy…

“A lot of these folks have grown so quickly they’ve lost their internal culture,” McCullough said. “The millennials want a really good mix. They want the culture they’re looking for and the flexibility they’ve become used to. Otherwise, they get that really good training, then head off to a regional firm or open their own place.”

Partner Compensation

Rate pressure is real. Beyond technology, regional firms and boutiques are forcing BigLaw to deliver better value. But existing contracts that tie compensation to hours billed often stand in the way.