Mid-Sized Firms to the Fore?

mid-size-law-firmConfirmed with fresh data, the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession and Thomson Reuters have published the “2014 Report on the State of the Legal Market.” It is the latest testimony of the “disruption” of Big Law’s business model.

This report rounds out the new world view reported recently in

From my my MidLawish point of view, here are the latest report’s conclusions, which speak mostly to the big firms:

  • Unless law firms  change how legal services are delivered, they will not be able to adjust to outside forces that are reordering the industry.
  • Management of legal talent and pricing strategies are more important than economies of scale. Growth for growth’s sake is risky. There are no economies of scale past about 100 lawyers.
  • The law firm market has become much more competitive. Supply exceeds demand significantly .
  • Competition has changed fundamentally.
  • Clients have more diverse options, including shifting work to smaller firms, bringing work in-house, and using non-law-firm providers such as legal process outsourcing.
  • Traditional law firms’ organizational, pricing, and service delivery models must change.

Note the “diverse options” point – the one about work shifting to smaller firms.

On the heels of the “State of the Legal Market” has come a clarion restatement of the case for mid-sized law firms from one of the champions of the species, David Rosenblatt at Burns & Levinson

Says David,

Over three decades ago, the pundits who commented on the practice of law were suggesting that the “mid-sized law firm” was dead – that there was no future in that type of organization. The idea at that time was “bigger is better,” and that offering greater depth in all areas of expertise and experience along with a wider geographic spread was of value to everyone. The other extreme, they argued, was that law firms could be successful only if they were very small.

Since then “Big Law” has gotten bigger; many small and mid-size firms have been swallowed up and become parts of these large national and international firms. We heard the stories of the successes of these very large firms, and this growth appeared to be very good for them. But was it good for the clients and for the people who work in these firms? We’re not so sure.

I heard that.

The linked materials revisit issues and themes that have sounded often in this space in the past. They are soon to return.

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