Ralph Baxter seeks to be a catalyst for improvement and innovation. He believes that technology and process design enable legal service to be delivered better, faster, and cheaper, and to be available at a reasonable cost to all who need it. He aims to help make this happen.
Ralph Baxter advises, writes, and speaks on the legal profession.
He advises law firms, corporate legal departments, legal technology companies, and other new entrants in legal service delivery.
He serves as the Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute.
He serves on the Board of Directors of Intapp, the Board of Advisors of Ravel Law, and the Legal Advisory Board of LegalZoom.
He served on the Board of Directors of Lex Machina, prior to its sale to Lexis Nexis.
He is a Senior Advisor and member of the Advisory Board at the Stanford Law School Center on the Legal Profession.
He is a Fellow and Senior Advisor to CodeX, the Stanford University Center for Law and Informatics.
He is member of the Advisory Board of the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession.
He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Georgetown Law School Center for the Study of the Legal Profession.
Ralph writes blogs on the evolution of legal service delivery, most of which are posted or reposted at ralphbaxter.com.
He is a frequent speaker at public conferences and private meetings of law firms, corporate law departments, and other groups interested in the legal profession.
Ralph’s 23 years as Chairman & CEO of Orrick are the foundation for his work today. From 1990 to 2013, Ralph led Orrick as it expanded, diversified and extended its geographic reach, transforming from a domestic firm with California origins to become one of the world’s most prominent global law firms, with more than 1,100 lawyers in 25 offices across the United States, Europe and Asia. Mr. Baxter also launched several transformative initiatives that more closely aligned Orrick with its clients, including non‑traditional talent and pricing models, distinguishing the firm as a bold innovator in the legal industry.
In 2013, The American Lawyer named Mr. Baxter one of the “Top 50 Big Law Innovators of the Last 50 Years.” In naming Mr. Baxter among the “Most Innovative Managing Partners” for the second year in a row in 2012, Law360’s editors noted that Mr. Baxter “has left an indelible mark not only on [Orrick]… but also the larger practice by upending traditional career models, rejiggering payment structures and transforming the business of law in many other innovative ways.” Mr. Baxter led Orrick in establishing the first global insourcing center among law firms – Orrick’s Global Operations Center in Wheeling, West Virginia – which marked its 14th anniversary in 2016. Originally home to the firm’s administrative support functions, the GOC today supports the delivery of client service and other outward facing functions, employing approximately 15% of Orrick's world wide workforce.
Recognized as one of America’s “100 Most Influential Lawyers” by The National Law Journal, Mr. Baxter has long been a frequent speaker on business leadership and the evolution of the legal profession. Mr. Baxter is the founder of the Law Firm Leaders Forum, one of the most significant gatherings of law firm leaders that annually examine the critical issues facing the legal profession. 2016 marked the 21st anniversary of the forum.
Mr. Baxter is active in civic leadership and public interest organizations, particularly in West Virginia and California.
In West Virginia, he co-chaired the Governor’s 21st Century Jobs Cabinet from 2006 to 2010 to help lead efforts to improve education and economic development in West Virginia. He also serves on the Board of Directors of The West Virginia Education Alliance, is a member of the West Virginia Roundtable and West Virginia Vision Shared, and is a board member of Imagine West Virginia.
Mr. Baxter was inducted into the June Harless Education Hall of Fame at Marshall University in 2009, in recognition of his leadership in education in West Virginia.
Mr. Baxter's activities in California included two trade missions to China, one with Governor Schwarzenegger in 2005 and one with San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown in 1997.
Prior to his election as Chairman and CEO, Mr. Baxter practiced employment law and led Orrick’s Employment Law practice, which he founded in 1980. He was recognized as one of the “Nation’s Best Litigators in Employment Law” by The National Law Journal. During his years as a practicing lawyer, he lectured and wrote extensively on developments in the law, and testified on employment law issues before the California State Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
Prior to his career in the law, Mr. Baxter taught sixth grade at the Scott Montgomery Elementary School in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Baxter received his J.D. from the University of Virginia, where he served as an editor of The Virginia Law Review, in 1974; he received his M.A. in Education from the Catholic University of America in 1970; and he received his A.B. in History form Stanford University in 1968.