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March 11, 2008

The economic downturn and corporate boutiques.

NEW YORK (Portfolio Media, March 5, 2008)--Faced with the need to cut legal fee costs, in-house corporate counsel may avoid larger firms in favor of more cost-efficient alternatives, such as smaller firms, according to a new study commissioned by international law firm Eversheds LLP. [more]

Seattle-based business lawyer Dan Harris, at the well-regarded China Law Blog, forwarded us the above piece at IP Law360 called "Study: Cost-Cutting May Boost Smaller Law Firms". For WAC?, the real point is that for years law firms between 250 and 3000+ lawyers have been losing clients to smaller corporate law firms with BigTalent, even to those boutiques with comparable or higher rates, anyway. True, smart and secure GCs often perceive that they get better and faster lawyering and service at smaller shops. And, while it "helps", you don't need a downturn in the markets served by large law firms to make more inroads into their business. Here's another reason. With a few notable exceptions--and as we've written before--in the last 15 years many law firms now between 250 and 3000+ lawyers sacrificed lawyer quality and dramatically diluted their "gene pools" in order to grow and get big in the U.S. and around the world in the first place--especially large firms with offices in second-tier cities. We see it every day in our practice--partners and senior lawyers at "large" firms, many lateral acquisitions, who would have trouble getting steady work as street people in cities like London, New York, LA, Chicago and DC. There are now two distinct classes of talent at larger firms. (Which will GCs get stuck with at those shops?) Not kind to say--but it's sadly true.

Posted by JD Hull at March 11, 2008 11:59 PM

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