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The New Schwabe: Breaking Tradition to Better Serve Clients

June 8, 2016


By Mark Long, Managing Partner/Practicing Lawyer

Today is an exciting day at Schwabe. “What passes for an exciting day at a law firm,” you are probably asking. Did we help a client win a landmark court case? Announce a winner in our annual Summer Raffle? Not to disappoint, but we merely decided to break tradition in terms of how a typical law firm does business and rebuild ourselves to better support our clients in a changing marketplace.

We are always asking how we can better serve our world-class clients. That’s why I am excited to share our new organizational structure for supporting clients, as well as our firm’s new look and website. These important developments are the result of extensive feedback from clients that revealed their desire for lawyers with deeper industry knowledge, not just legal expertise.

Today, Schwabe announced we are now organized around six core industry groups: Manufacturing and Distribution; Natural Resources; Real Estate and Construction; Transportation, Ports and Maritime; Technology; Healthcare. 

The reorganization makes Schwabe one of only a handful of law firms to organize around industry groups rather than legal practice areas. 

Listening to Clients

Our clients across the region are working fast to respond to a changing marketplace, and our job is to listen to them and adapt to their needs. That’s why we are fundamentally changing how we provide services. Clients are telling us they want more than high-quality legal support; they want partners with deep experience in their industry. Our attorneys are empowered to become masters of their clients’ industries and we are changing the culture of our firm to support this focus.

We did not arrive at this strategy lightly. And trust me, we were conscious of the old adage that a lawyer representing themselves has a fool for a client. That’s why we spent over a year conducting research and market analysis in order to ensure we are meeting the needs of our clients.  

You may also see the phrase “Represented by Schwabe.” This is a statement we’ve created to communicate our commitment to mastering our clients’ industries, the ability to spot trends and help clients navigate them, and our goal to go beyond providing traditional on-call legal services and be partners in our clients’ businesses. In short, it identifies our culture. We get out of the office to meet clients where they are, in their industries.

Investing in an Industry Approach

Over the past year, we have grown firm-wide by adding 25 new attorneys in our focus industry groups. This is an exciting time in our economy and we want to make sure we have the talent our clients need to succeed in this competitive market. Beyond recruitment, how is Schwabe investing in this new culture?

When the industry group organization was announced internally, each attorney was required to pick an industry where they want to “major” and an industry where they want to “minor.”  Flashbacks to cramming for college finals notwithstanding, I can report that our team is excited to lean in to support our new approach. How do I know?  Because we had a 96 percent adoption rate from our attorneys.  Those of you who’ve tried to get a group of attorneys to agree on anything know what an accomplishment that is. This gives our attorneys an ability to champion a sector, become deeply knowledgeable about it, and provide value to clients beyond traditional legal services.

The internal accounting of attorneys’ time was also adjusted in order to ensure they could spend more time on site with clients, attend industry conferences, and serve in industry leadership positions. We believe this will not only serve our clients better, it will be a more rewarding way to practice law for our attorneys.

The attorneys who lead each of the newly-created industry groups are as follows:

  • Elizabeth Howard, Natural Resources
  • Noah Jarrett, Transportation, Ports and Maritime
  • Jennifer Campbell, Manufacturing and Distribution
  • Bruce Howell, Healthcare
  • Brenna Legaard, Technology
  • Troy Greenfield, Real Estate and Construction

The traditional structure for a law firm no longer makes sense in today’s dynamic and competitive marketplace. Clients are simply and rightfully demanding more familiarity with their businesses and industries.

I invite your positive feedback to this new approach.  For any other type of feedback, please email me at


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