Ari Kaplan recently spoke with Jim McGinnis, the CEO of MyCase, a practice management software company.
Ari Kaplan: Tell us about your background and your role at MyCase.
Jim McGinnis: I have been the CEO of MyCase for about a year and think it is the best job of my life. I’m having so much fun. I had a long career in marketing with Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo, then moved into technology about 13 years ago to work with Activision and Intuit, followed by a period with Wolters Kluwer serving accountants.
Ari Kaplan: How have your roles outside of legal helped shape your approach to leadership at MyCase?
Jim McGinnis: I often think about some of the great leaders that I’ve served under, like Brad Smith at Intuit, Indra Nooyi at Pepsi and A.G. Lafley at Procter & Gamble. I have tried to bring their leadership principles and approaches to MyCase, which is a very fast-growing company. I have the privilege of helping to deliver great offerings for our customers while building a great company for our employees.
Ari Kaplan: As you reflect on your first year as the CEO, how have you navigated the challenges of leading and growing the company during the pandemic?
Jim McGinnis: It was strange to join a company right in the middle of a pandemic, and I worked for five or six months before I met a single person face to face. That said, we are in the legal practice management software-as-a-service business, so as a cloud-based technology company, working remotely helps us support our customers in the legal profession who are doing so, as well.
Ari Kaplan: How have the law firms that MyCase serves adapted to operating remotely?
Jim McGinnis: Many of the firms that we work with have really enjoyed the benefits of using a true cloud-based legal practice management solution. They are able to work with their peers remotely because it is all browser-based. They can share documents, chat in real-time, manage their billings and payments, all through MyCase. If anything, I think working remotely has accelerated our growth because many lawyers were stuck with systems that required them to be in the office and have now realized the benefits of cloud-based solutions.
Ari Kaplan: MyCase published its Legal Industry Report in the fall of 2021. What does it reveal about the future of remote work, even when legal professionals are comfortable returning to their offices?
Jim McGinnis: We released the Legal Industry Report in October to coincide with our first-ever user conference. We asked a lot of questions about whether remote work is likely to remain permanent and how many lawyers have moved to working remotely full time. Eighty percent of the responding professionals reported investing in tools to work remotely in order to maintain their long-term business continuity, and 46% have done so as result of the pandemic. Interest in cloud-based software was at 76% before the pandemic, but is now 88%, according to our research. The overall conclusions from the report are that remote work is here to stay, and that law firms are seeking, investing in and using technologies that allow them to work remotely. The future is hybrid. Our employees and the professionals at the law firms with which we work want to be able to go back to their offices to collaborate and meet with clients, but I don’t think anyone wants to go back to the five-day-a-week schedule with a commute.
Ari Kaplan: What do you see as the most significant challenge for law firms interested in continuing their digital transformation?
Jim McGinnis: According to our report, the No. 1 challenge for 76% of the participants is the ease of software. Seventy-five percent highlighted the need for seamless implementation, while 71% emphasized the importance of data migration. Fifty-six percent noted that change management and buy-in are key concerns. The theme in this area of the report is about leveraging software with the promise of a better and easier future. The biggest challenge for law firms and their digital transformation is getting across the divide of learning to use their software and moving their data into a new system to improve their productivity.
Ari Kaplan: How can those you serve embrace and become more comfortable operating in this perpetual state of uncertainty?
Jim McGinnis: It is about staying focused and sticking to your knitting. It is also important to recognize the importance of profitability and client service. Also, invest in learning and adopting technology to continue to thrive. It is all about flexibility.
Ari Kaplan: Where do you see legal headed?
Jim McGinnis: This question reminds me of two quotes. First, “If you’re going to predict the future, predict it often.” Second, from Bill Gates, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10.” Both are really true in the legal profession, where the investment in technology today is absolutely unprecedented. We are all looking for ways to dramatically improve productivity and help law firms serve their clients better. Firms are looking for solutions with a single sign-on that are all in one containing everything they need to complete their work, including documents and data in the cloud that are accessible by everyone. The really fun stuff is even further down the road but probably not as far as we think, such as blockchain technologies and increased use of AI for contracts. The future of legal is really exciting.
Listen to the complete interview at Reinventing Professionals.
Ari Kaplan regularly interviews leaders in the legal industry and in the broader professional services community to share perspective, highlight transformative change and introduce new technology at his blog and on iTunes.
This column reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of the ABA Journal—or the American Bar Association.
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