ABA JOURNAL | By Edwin Reeser and Victor Li | January 1, 2016
"...Most businesses, including law firms, do not fail for lack of profits. They fail for lack of cash.
Ralph Baxter knows all about how difficult it is for law firms to manage cash flow. The former chairman and CEO of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe recalls that cash flow was something he constantly worried about.
“Lawyers are notoriously bad at even recording their time and submitting it,” Baxter says. “The best-case scenario is you get the bill out a month after you do the work, but a lot of firms aren’t even good about that. Then clients get the bill, and they might take time before paying it. So it’s a month or more before you even get the money—and that’s if everything goes smoothly.” (According to LexisNexis, the average law firm waits 83 days after bills are sent out to get paid.)
During his time in charge at Orrick, Baxter says, he kept track of general metrics relating to the firm’s liquidity—namely, ratio of equity to debt.
“Firms are very different when it comes to debt,” he says. “Some have no debt, and those firms will generally retain their earnings. Most firms have debt, though. If you go through a challenging time, then you have to watch all the details of your economic condition.”
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The Atlantic | Leigh McMullan Abramson | Oct 1, 2015
“The billable hour is the culprit of everything,” explains Ralph Baxter, the former chairman and CEO of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Implementing innovations that render billable hours obsolete can be like tugging on a thread that threatens to unravel the basic concept of a law firm. For example, the start-up Lex Machina can speedily mine and analyze litigation data that would take an army of associates months to go through. Suddenly, several associates aren’t billing. And if they aren’t billing, the firm could do without them. And if they could do without those associates, then they could do without the office space they occupy. There goes the business model.
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Harvard Law Today | October 29, 2015
Harvard Law School has announced that, with the support of Ravel Law, a legal research and analytics platform, it is digitizing its entire collection of U.S. case law, one of the largest collections of legal materials in the world, and that it will make the collection available online, for free, to anyone with an Internet connection.
Ralph Baxter, an advisor to Ravel and also to the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession said: “Technology is changing the legal landscape, and the law firm of the future will need to be more efficient, more agile, and more opportunistic in finding new ways to deliver legal services. The collaboration between Harvard Law School and Ravel Law offers a new and exciting resource that lawyers can deploy to improve how they practice law.”
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Julie Triedman, The Am Law Daily | April 15, 2015
Ralph Baxter became almost synonymous with his firm during his 22 years at the helm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. By the time he officially stepped down at the end of 2013, he had built the firm into a 1,000-plus-lawyer global force. He'd also gained the reputation as a risk-taking, ambitious innovator, spearheading the trend to relocate back-office work to lower-cost markets, among other moves.
On Monday, he announced his first official plans for his post-firm life—and they don't stray too far from his past. He's taking on board roles at two data analytics-oriented legal services innovators, Lex Machina and Ravel Law. He's also chairing a new industry think tank, the Legal Executive Institute, and dipping his toe in the blogosphere.
The Am Law Daily recently spoke with Baxter, 68, on the phone from his home in Wheeling, West Virginia, about his plans and his transition to post-firm life. Below is an edited transcript of the interview.
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MENLO PARK, CA, February 24, 2015 – Lex Machina, pioneer of Legal Analytics®, announced today that Ralph Baxter has joined the company’s Board of Directors. A pioneer in law firm management and a bold legal industry innovator, Baxter will help guide Lex Machina’s accelerated growth as the company continues innovating to enable companies and law firms to craft successful legal strategies, win cases, and close business. READ MORE.
NEW YORK – July 30, 2013 – ALM’s The American Lawyer has chosen The Top 50 Innovators in Big Law in the Last 50 Years and details their innovations in its August issue and online at americanlawyer.com. The winners, picked for their contributions in the categories of Big Ideas, Law Firm Values, Outsiders’ Influence, The Work, and Business of Law, will be honored at a reception in New York City on October 10th.
The innovators are:
Big Ideas • Russell Baker, Baker & McKenzie • Ralph Baxter, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe • Jerome Cohen, Coudert Brothers • Allen Holmes, Jones Day • Wang Junfeng, King & Wood Mallesons • Peter Kalis, K&L Gates • Young Moo Kim, Kim & Chang • W. James MacIntosh, Morgan. Lewis & Bockius • Owen Nee Jr., Coudert Brothers • Regina Pisa, Goodwin Procter • John Quinn, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan • Ralph Savarese, Howrey • Clinton Stevenson, Latham & Watkins. READ MORE.
By Natalie Rodriguez
Law360, New York (October 02, 2012, 3:28 PM ET) -- Helming the growth of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP for 22 years as its chairman and CEO, Ralph Baxter has left a indelible mark not only on its culture but also the larger practice by upending traditional career models, rejiggering payment structures and transforming the business of law in many other innovative ways. With an ear attuned to the changing needs of both clients and attorneys, Baxter has successfully spearheaded several major initiatives during his time at Orrick, while also helping to grow the firm from a 250-attorney practice in San Francisco to a global powerhouse with 25 offices spread across three continents, landing him on Law360's list of America's Most Innovative Managing Partners. READ MORE.