For the 18 partners in Nixon Peabody’s tax credit finance group, the first question they face in annual evaluations is: How is your innovation going?
The “innovation” refers to an initiative their practice leader, Jeff Lesk, who’s also managing partner of the law firm’s Washington office, spearheaded two years ago.
Lesk, whose group advises businesses on how to finance real estate projects using various tax credits, began asking partners to come up with at least one idea each year that could be developed into a new product — anything from a product for a client to a new fee structure or management strategy. The idea, and the implementation of the idea, factor into partners’ compensation.
The purpose is to urge lawyers to think more creatively about their business at a time many large law firms are struggling to stay profitable. The practice of law has traditionally been more reactive than proactive — companies ask their attorneys to draw up contracts, put together deals and interpret new laws and regulations. But that approach needs to change, Lesk said.