Drinker Biddle Prospers after Adopting the ACC Value Challenge

Kristin Sudholz, ACC Challenge, Drinker, Business DevelopmentWe are at the tipping point, and one of the law firms leading the way into the future is Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, a national law firm with nearly 700 lawyers in 12 offices representing midsized enterprises to Fortune 50 companies.

Drinker Biddle has fully embraced the ACC Value Challenge. It studied what clients said that they wanted, gives it to them, and clients and prospects have responded positively. “In some cases, the fruits of our labor are bearing fruit in six months instead of the typical three years,” said Director of Business Development Kristin Sudholz, based in the Chicago office. In terms of new business, “we are getting more 'at bats' as a result of clients and prospects wanting to give us a chance to put our client goals into action,” she said.


It began when Executive Partner Andrew Kassner attended a pilot meeting with ACC leaders about the Value Challenge, and was convinced. Ever since then Sudholz has been working around the clock with the firm’s Value Task Force to implement a variety of efforts in direct response to the Value Challenge:

1. While the firm has been utilizing alternative billing structures for years, it has been more aggressive in the variety of alternatives it is implementing.

2. It abandoned the traditional first-year associate program, opting for reduced salaries, no billable requirements, no (or significantly discounted) charges to the client.  Instead the firm is putting them through a six-month training and apprenticeship program.

3. Developing technology that clients actually want, such as free centralized extranets for all the law firms working on a matter.

4. Adopting the goal of pursuing the 17 activities identified by BTI Consulting that drive law firm success. (This effort resulted in a jump from being named in only 5 categories two years ago to 13 categories last year.)

5. Bringing in-house counsel into the law firm to talk about the in-house/outside counsel relationship and how they define value, and listening to them.

6. Creating a Law Firm Advisory Committee composed of several law firms that support the Value Challenge philosophy.

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