Q&A with Kathleen Garrity
The marketing department recently sat down with the Firm’s new Chief Operating Officer, Kathleen Garrity. While Kathleen has been with the Firm for four years as Executive Director, she was promoted to Chief Operating Officer effective January 1, 2018, a position new to the Firm.
Q: Tell us about the vision for the Firm. Where will Cohen Seglias be in five years?
A: Over the last few years we have undertaken a strategic planning process. We sought input from Partners on who we are and where we are going and created a plan to get us from today to tomorrow. We all agreed that we want to grow the Firm – particularly in geographies other than Philadelphia. Also, while we will remain focused on the construction industry, we realize that we have grown in depth and breadth and are now able to provide services to many middle market clients in areas other than construction. Over the next five years, we plan to strengthen these other practice areas to become a full-service firm for the privately-owned middle market client. We are also going to be on the lookout for talent and practice areas to help us grow and support our clients.
Q: What are some of the technology improvements you are implementing and how will they benefit our clients?
A: Technology is always changing and providing us with opportunities to be more efficient and accurate. The end goal of any technology we implement is to improve our ability to provide our clients with better services.
In 2017, we purchased a cutting-edge eDiscovery platform and are now in the process of training our lawyers and litigation support personnel on the program. The platform has smart search capability and artificial intelligence. Rather than taking a linear approach to our searches, it allows us to cull through large amounts of data more quickly and accurately. This software will expedite document review and give us more time to focus on the issues in the documents.
We are also rolling out a new tool that will assist in research. This tool allows us to search outside legal literature at the same time we search our internal documents. This will make us more efficient and will translate into more time spent building support for our clients’ positions.
We are also getting ready to roll out a piece of software that will keep our friends and clients better informed about Firm news and events. Not only will our emails look more sophisticated and be more user-friendly, the software will streamline the registration process for events and send automatic event reminders. It will also allow attendees to add an event to their calendars directly from the email.
Q: In your time at Cohen Seglias, what has been most surprising to you?
A: One of the things that has been most surprising to me is the energy of this Firm. Although the Firm is 30 years old, many of the founders are still here working every day to make it a better place for lawyers and staff. I think that there is something special about working with the Firm’s first generation — there is a pride and ownership that is different than companies that have been around a long time. Firm management and Partners actively look for suggestions from everyone about things we can do to deliver enhanced services to our clients and to make Cohen Seglias a better place to work. I have also been pleasantly surprised by how quickly we as a Firm have been able to create change. Firms our size are more nimble, able to make decisions faster, and get things implemented. Over the past four years that I have been here, the Firm has implemented many initiatives because we pull together and focus on the task at hand.
Q: What key challenges do you face as COO?
A: The biggest challenge that most law firm COOs face is figuring out how to keep up with the rapid pace of change in the legal industry. Technology is changing the way we define an office and the way we all work. Clients are asking for more transparency in everything we do and want us to be experts in their business issues. Some services formerly performed by law firms can now be conducted by those outside the legal industry. Lawyers are thinking and acting more like business people. Managing and balancing all of those factors and trying to stay ahead of the curve is quite a challenge and one that we embrace as we move forward.
Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: The best part of my job is that no two days are alike and I get to work with an amazing group of people every day.