BigLaw and Full Service: Damn the Torpedoes
A few weeks ago, I wondered about the fate of the full-service law firm. There are signs that some firms in the “BigLaw” category are revisiting the “do everything for everyone” mantra.
I had a follow-up post underway, to explain that many firms will remain full service, but will increasingly find it hard to do it and maintain premium pricing.
Before I was done, Jordan Furlong beat me to the punch with an excellent piece entitled “The Rise of the Super-Boutique.” I have a two word review: read it.
Jordan also lists some of the attributes of a “Law Factory,” a term coined by Ron Friedmann. This is closer to where my next post was going: the BigLaw model, in the current and future market cannot scale. The old-fashioned version of the legal pyramid, namely a highly-leveraged ratio of associates to partners, doesn’t fly anymore. BigLaw chronically over-invested in bodies and under-invested in technology. In a globally competitive world tech scales, people don’t.
There’s still more to come on this. It is really hard to change a model and deliver services at the same time. I still stand behind my #5 on my Top 10 Legal Trends for 2011: The AmLaw 200 will stratify; there is only room in the market for about 40-50 true top-end firms as far as profits. You can’t stay there doing routine work; many firms that claim to be there now may not really belong.
Anyway, since many readers are on vacation, I know it may not be convenient to read all this when you sneak a peek at your iPhone on the beach.
So as a public service, here is the Wired GC “Law Illustrated” version: