This post was originally published on High Performance Counsel and has been republished here with permission.
John Thacher, Director of Managed Review Services at Ricoh USA, shares his career journey from law school to legal tech and advice to legal professionals in an evolving industry in a recent High Performance Counsel "Baker's Dozen" Interview.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOU CAME TO BE IN THE LEGAL BUSINESS?
I wanted to be a lawyer in grade school. Several family friends were attorneys and Judges, so it was very natural for me to move in that direction. Law school was an amazing experience for me. Law practice, and the prevailing business model for the delivery of law services, was much less amazing. Having run businesses before going back to law school, I could not believe that a 200 year old business model was still the prevailing approach. I suppose it was inevitable that I would end up working in a non-traditional delivery of legal services.
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING RIGHT NOW?
I am the Director of Managed Review Services for Ricoh. This is the culmination of an 18-year history in the eDiscovery industry where I have been vendor, law firm and client side at different points. I stumbled upon eDiscovery as a practicing attorney, and found that I enjoyed the challenge of combining large teams and processes together to battle mountains of information with tight deadlines. I also really enjoy working as a member of a team to create a successful outcome for our clients.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST TRIUMPH AND YOUR GREATEST SUCCESS IN THE LEGAL SERVICES FIELD AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM EACH?
Early in my career, I was lucky to play a major role in the AT&T and Bell South merger/2nd request. At the time, I worked for a firm that had tremendous loyalty to their team members and dedication to work quality. I learned firsthand that the quality of the work dictates the process, and that the overarching context of quality is respect for all individuals on the team. This is now my own personal touchstone for any business group I work with or document review process I help to create. The result is that my greatest success stories now all have the same ending; We delivered a better quality result than our client expected, in less time and under budget.
DO YOU THINK THE LEGAL INDUSTRY IS HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, THE WRONG DIRECTION – OR WHICH DIRECTION?
I firmly believe the industry is headed in the right direction. Every day, I see customer loyalty resulting from a combination of high levels of service and quality work, consistent gains in efficiency, and cost reductions. In any other industry, the ability to deliver any one of these is seen as good business and indicates that the industry is headed in the right direction. I also believe that the reason the legal industry is conflicted is because there are too many attorneys who enter the legal profession for noble reasons, only to find out that the work-life balance and salaries do not meet their needs, and end up leaving the practice of law within 5 years of graduation.