Ralph Baxter

Ralph Baxter


Ralph served as Chairman & CEO of Orrick for nearly a quarter century, leading the firm as it expanded, diversified and extended its geographic reach, transforming from a domestic firm with California origins to become one of the world’s most prominent global law firms, with more than 1,100 lawyers in 25 offices across the United States, Europe and Asia.

Ralph launched several groundbreaking initiatives that modernized the way Orrick operated and served its clients, including establishing the legal industry’s first on-shore operations center in Wheeling, West Virginia in 2001, affirmatively embracing technology, and instituting non-traditional talent and pricing models, distinguishing the firm as a bold innovator.

The American Lawyer named Ralph one of the “Top 50 Big Law Innovators of the Last 50 Years.” In naming Ralph among the “Most Innovative Managing Partners,” Law360’s editors said Ralph “has left an indelible mark not only on [Orrick]… but also the larger practice by upending traditional career models, rejiggering payment structures and transforming the business of law in many other innovative ways.”

Recognized as one of America’s “100 Most Influential Lawyers” by The National Law Journal, Ralph has long been a frequent speaker on business leadership and the evolution of the legal profession. He is the founder of the Law Firm Leaders Forum, one of the most significant gatherings of law firm leaders that annually examines the critical issues facing the legal profession.

Before becoming Chairman and CEO, Ralph practiced employment law and led Orrick’s highly regarded Employment Law Department, which he founded as a second year associate. He was recognized as one of the “Nation’s Best Litigators in Employment Law” by The National Law Journal, acting as trusted advisor to Fortune 50 clients. During his years as a practicing lawyer, he lectured and wrote extensively on developments in the law, and testified on employment law issues before the California State Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. 


Since 2014, Ralph has engaged in a comprehensive set of activities in which he continues to influence the modernization of legal service.  His work extends across the legal ecosystem: legal education,  law firms, law departments, legal technology companies, public interest projects, and regulatory reform.  He also devotes time to thought leadership, hosting a podcast, writing a blog, speaking at seminars and events.   Ralph’s current and recent roles include:

  • Intapp Board of Directors
  • Lex Machina Board of Directors (prior to sale to Lexis Nexis)
  • Legal Zoom Legal Advisory Board
  • Ravel Law Advisory Board (prior to sale to Lexis Nexis)
  • Stanford Law School Senior Advisor and member Advisory Board to the Center on the Legal Profession
  • Harvard Law School Advisory Board on the Legal Profession
  • CodeX, The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics, Fellow
  • Legal Services Corporation Leaders Council
  • Institute for the Future of Legal Service Board of Directors
  • Law Technology Now Co-Host, on the Legal Talk Network
  • Legal Service Today Blog about how the law works and how to make it work better for everyone
  • Law Firm Leaders Forum Founder and Chair (1999 to present)
  • Advisory engagements with law firms and law departments are confidential


Ralph received his J.D. from the University of Virginia, where he served as an editor of The Virginia Law Review; he received his M.A. in Education from the Catholic University of America; and he received his A.B. in History from Stanford University.

Prior to his career in the law, Ralph taught sixth grade at the Scott Montgomery Elementary School in Washington, D.C.

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Guest Appearances
October 23, 2019

Welcoming New Host Ralph Baxter

Dan Linna welcomes Ralph Baxter who joins as a new host of Law Technology Now.

August 27, 2019

From the Archives: The Future of the Law Firm (Rebroadcast)

A chat with former Orrick chief Ralph Baxter about what's next for firms.

August 26, 2019

ABA Annual Meeting 2019: The Taskforce on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services (ATILS)

Unauthorized practice of law, sharing of legal fees, and more— the ATILS taskforce is rethinking our approach to these big issues in the practice of law.

February 7, 2019

Inspire Legal 2019: Legal Innovation with Ralph Baxter

Ralph Baxter talks about his career as a legal innovator.

January 16, 2019

Beating the drum for change

Ralph Baxter talks about his days with Legal rebels, where his profession has been and where he thinks it’s headed.

December 11, 2018

The Future Of The Law Firm

Elie and Joe talk to Ralph Baxter about the future of the legal industry.