Hermes Law Report on the IFLP Experience
By Dwayne Hermes
Hermes Law is an insurance defense law firm that lives by the rule of three: faster, better, cheaper. Law’s inherent conservative creates many problems for clients and lawyers, but I believe that we tend to underestimate how quickly the mindset takes hold. Law students, often from the day they step through the doors of the schools that they attend, are met with the old model of law and never hear of any alternatives. I have seen them come through our firm’s doors after graduating and already some are resistant to any new change. The problem only worsens as an attorney grows in his or her career – the older they are, the harder it becomes for them to break the mold.
Hermes Law cannot afford this type of mindset. Hence, we decided to invest in an IFLP intern who came to the firm with exposure to many of the ideas and methodologies that are integral to our success.
IFLP Clerk Performance
Billy Kirchgessner joined Hermes Law this summer. He is starting his second year of law school at Indiana in the fall. Billy came to us from the Institute for the Future of Law Practice (IFLP). Billy joined two other summer law clerks. Billy had many opportunities for substantive legal work, but he also had two main projects: the workflow project and the value pricing model project.
1. Workflow Project
The workflow project is something Billy worked on with another law clerk. The project essentially built out our pleadings library for the firm and added checklists to aid in early resolution. The pleadings were issue-specific based on practice area. Billy not only got hands-on legal experience by drafting pleadings, but he also got to collaborate with attorneys who provided useful insights substantive feedback. The pleadings and documents were then automated and are now being integrated into our firm’s document management system.
The IFLP bootcamp enabled Billy to work on the project and understand, from Day 1, the purpose of what we were trying to do. Despite never working in a law firm, Billy came to us with an understanding of the pressures facing law firms and the legal industry generally. Billy even gave us ideas he was taught in the bootcamp – to use artificial intelligence concepts that can interact with attorneys to enhance their decision-making capabilities.
2. Value Pricing Model
The next thing Billy was able to do was help us in developing alternative pricing models. Billy partnered with our business intelligence director, our project manager, other law clerks and interns directed by an attorney to identify the factors that influence the legal spend on premises liability cases, which is our most active practice area. The team then applied this coding system to all the premise liability cases the firm has ever handled. Billy performed statistical regressions to find insights associated with the final resolution amounts, which in turn contributed to our value pricing model.
Billy learned what this model should look like from the Institute. He was familiar with the purpose of what an alternative fee arrangement was, and the importance of why we needed it. The institute taught him the power of not being afraid to branch out and be bold to apply what he knew before he walked through our doors. It was a great asset to have him join us for the summer.
By having Billy join us for the summer, we were able to improve our firm’s application of faster, better, cheaper. Not only was his work meaningful but it was an asset to our culture to bring in a student who is learning about what we are practicing. He was able to teach us what he has learned as it pertains to the new law model, and we were able to show him the practical application of his formal education.
We have a mission at Hermes law – to move law forward. Through the partnership with the Institute, we have the collaborative opportunity to do that with students who really “get it” and are interested in taking on challenging opportunities to improve what we do.