For most people and most businesses, the end of 2009 and the end of the “aught” decade could not come soon enough.  Well, rise and shine, 2010 is here.  Time for a positive, upbeat attitude.  (If you celebrated the end of the decade last night and “aren’t quite yourself” this morning, you can start having your positive, upbeat attitude tomorrow.)  I wanted to start out the decade with some predictions.  They aren’t worth much, but maybe but maybe one or two might spark a conversation.

Nicole Auerbach1.  My partner Nicole Auerbach will have a breakout decade.  When you get to a certain age and a certain level of experience, you just know when someone has all the tools and that “inner something” that separates the truly exceptional from the merely good. I’m that old now, and I love the vantage point.  From intellect to presence to business savvy to an uncanny ability to read people, Nicole has all the tools and more. She’s starting to believe in her extraordinary abilities to help clients and is instilling a level of confidence in clients that make them want to bring her their most difficult problems.

2.  My colleague Hank Turner (right) is going to establish himself as a powerhouse.  From a thousand-watt smile that lights up a room to a commanding presence that makes me envious to a brilliant and incisive mind, Hank has everything working for him.  Plus he gets “it.”  He has a way with people and he understands that ours is a service business.  He gets “law 2.0” and recently posted his insights on protective orders on Legal On Ramp so that inhouse lawyers could benefit from some recent experiences and help ensure their interests are protected.  Hank has a sharp, inquiring mind and is relentless in his pursuit of excellence.  I love watching him develop and will continue to be inspired as he blossoms into something extraordinary.

3.  Alternative fee arrangements will become the standard, and if there are any new law school graduates hired from the classes of 2009 and beyond (it seems that no 2009 grad has started before 2010), they will know only non-hourly fees.  Susan Hackett and her ACC colleagues will celebrate the success of the ACC Value Challenge for an entire day before tackling the newest issues confronting in-house counsel.

4.  Lawyers will be required to learn the basics taught in business school and will begin offer business advice tempered by business savvy.

5.  Some law firm will open an office in Antarctica, and Gerry Riskin of Edge International will become the first law firm consultant to have clients on all seven continents, and also will become a lifetime ConciergeKey member.  In all seriousness, Gerry is a friend of mine and serves on Valorem’s Advisory Board, but more importantly is one of the world’s leading law firm consultants.  For law firms, the 90s and 2000s were, until 2008, times of relative ease.  The next decade will be tumultuous on many fronts, and the space between Gerry and the few other elite consultants and the rest of the pack will expand to a large, gulf.  Law firms that want to survive and thrive but know they need to change to do so will be lining up at Gerry’s door.

6. Law 2.0 organizations like Legal On Ramp will become must-join organizations for any in-house lawyer hoping to be successful, and LOR CEO Paul Lippe will succeed in convincing all law firms representing business to contribute work product, pricing information and research that will make “content” available for free.  Check out this fantastic wikipedia entry on LOR.  Paul is a friend of mine and also on Valorem’s Advisory Board, but he is a visionary and a force to be reckoned with.

7. Fred Bartlit will be trying cases in his 80s with the vigor of 40 year olds, and Bartlit Beck will continue to be one of the pre-eminent trial firms.

8.  The AmLaw 200 will become the AmLaw 150.

9.  Social media will expand its significance.

10.  The legal world in 2019 will not look much like it does in 2009.  The 2010s will be a rollercoaster for all of us.  I love rollercoasters, so I am looking forward to the next decade with tremendous anticipation and excitement.

Happy New Year everyone.