Peter Zeughauser is one of the legal industry’s premier strategists. A broadly skilled trusted advisor, he counsels leaders of top-ranked global, international, national, regional, and boutique firms on the challenges and opportunities they face as a result of the internationalization, consolidation, and segmentation of the market for legal services. His consulting practice includes significant work in China, where he maintains a Zeughauser Group office and advises a number of leading Chinese law firms.
Peter developed the Zeughauser Group’s now widely used framework for law firm strategic planning, and its approach to merger and acquisition work (both described below).
Clients benefit from Peter’s extensive background in both consulting and legal practice, including over a decade as senior vice president and general counsel of The Irvine Company. Under Peter’s leadership, the company’s legal department was ranked by the National Law Journal as one of the country’s top ten and cited for being in the vanguard of a powerful client-led legal industry reform movement. He served for ten years on the board of directors of the Association of Corporate Counsel, which he chaired in 1991.
The National Law Journal has also recognized Peter as one of 50 Legal Business Trailblazers and Pioneers who have “truly moved the needle in facilitating the changing ways that law firms conduct business.” He was lauded for sparking the use of alternative fee arrangements and for being the first general counsel to use RFPs to hire outside counsel.
Peter is the author of Lawyers Are From Mercury, Clients Are From Pluto (ClientFocus Press, 1999).
As a legal analyst, Peter is frequently quoted and featured in publications as diverse as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Business Week, The Washington Post, The American Lawyer, the ABA Journal, Corporate Counsel, and the New York Law Journal. He is a sought-after speaker at law firm retreats and industry gatherings and has shared his insights on law firm management as a contributing editor and columnist for The American Lawyer magazine since 1996.
Peter holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He received his Juris Doctor degree from Saint Louis University School of Law, where he was elected to Alpha Sigma Nu, the national Jesuit Honor Society.
Strategic Growth Planning
- Lead, manage and facilitate firmwide, practice group, industry sector, and office strategic planning with a process that builds consensus around management led, partner driven change
- Analyze firm performance data to set the stage for planning
- Interview partners to identify shared goals and disparate views that need to be bridged in the planning
- Assistance forming a planning group and facilitation of its meetings
- Assessment of the firm’s competitive environment with the planning group and facilitation of a SWOT exercise
- Facilitate planning exercises to develop an aspirational vision statement and high-performance goals, strategies, and action items
- Ensure alignment of firm structure and systems with strategy
- Keep the planning process on track
- Strategic plan roll-out to the partnership
Mergers, Acquisitions and Strategic Alliances
- Leadership and partner consensus building around accelerated growth strategies for achieving market leadership
- Identification and assessment of merger and acquisition opportunities on behalf of equals, acquirers, and targets
- Building consensus around value propositions for clients and talent
- Formal and informal design and facilitation of phased internal and bilateral discussions
- Facilitation and analysis of confidential data exchanges
- Facilitate design and assessment of alternative collaboration structures (including cross-border strategic alliances and “best friend” and private network relationships)
- Advisor on deal terms, including development of and integrating disparate governance and partnership structures, compensation systems, capital accounts, unfunded liabilities
- transaction structures that facilitate accelerated client and market penetration, including in multiple jurisdictions the name of the combined firm,
- Advisor to the deal when desired by the parties
- Media strategy and relations related to the transaction
- Trusted advisor to leadership
- Developing leadership roles and responsibilities
- Leadership succession planning
- Partner compensation systems
- Partnership governance and structure
- Partnership admission and retention criteria
- Profitability strategies
- Pricing strategies
- Performance metrics
- Go-to market strategies
- Insourcing/outsourcing and flex-time strategies to reduce fixed overhead and the cost of leverage
- Consensus-building among partners and other law firm leaders
Retreat Planning and Speaking Engagements
- Frequent speaker at law firm partner retreats, industry and managing partner gatherings for over thirty years on legal industry and macroeconomic trends driving change and opportunities, and challenges in the legal industry
- Partner retreat design
- Design and moderation of panel discussions at partner retreats
- Advisor on over 25 groundbreaking mergers and group placements for market-leading national and international law firms, including the largest transatlantic law firm industry merger in history and the first combination between an Am Law 100 firm and a Chinese law firm
- Advisor to global law firm with a presence in more than 40 countries on multiple combinations
- Trusted advisor to numerous Global 50 chairs and managing partners, including the leadership of the preeminent law firm of the People’s Republic of China
- Advisor to the Shanghai Bureau of the Ministry of Justice of the People's Republic of China
- Creator of firmwide strategic plans for numerous Am Law 100 law firms
- Advisor on reorganization of tech giant’s 1600-lawyer global legal department and succession planning for the company’s chief legal officer
- Convener of Zeughauser Group Chair Roundtable and other roundtables (20 years)