The Changing Law Firm Business Model

Last week I attended AltmanWeil’s Excellence in Law Firm Leadership seminar in Washington, D.C. AltmanWeil principal and Greensboro native Tom Clay and his colleague Jim Cotterman did a good job.

The promise in the promotional materials that had hooked me was a segment entitled “The Changing Law Firm Business Model.” Here’s part of what I heard.

Older lawyers (Baby Boomers) are working fewer hours than they did in the past – because they have become older lawyers. Younger lawyers are working fewer hours than the older ones did in the past – because they are younger lawyers and younger lawyers have different attitudes about work.

Not only are lawyers working fewer hours, there’s less work to do overall, and clients are resisting rate increases.

This cocktail – fewer hours and lower rate increases – in the context of even moderately rising expenses, they say, is “changing the business model.”

Give me a second here. … I’ve never been real good at arithmetic. … Wait …. Oh, I see.

This could be a problem, if we don’t manage it.

OK. I will come clean: I knew this even before I had cleared the parking deck in Greensboro headed to DC. I even knew it was a national trend. But sometimes you need to face these things down and try to figure out the right response. So, off to Washington I went.

Tom and Jim provided context and perspective and offered some ideas. More on this later.

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