Change Coming to the Law Firm Model

Aric Press, Editorial Director of Incisive Media (formerly American Lawyer Media), discusses the changes that are coming to the traditional law firm model (free subscription required).    The pressure on law firms to control fees continues to mount and law firms are being forced to rethink leverage.

Press discusses how firms will begin to adopt a multi-tiered staffing model where there will be many more staff attorneys and only some of the lawyers hired out of law school will advance through associate ranks and up to partnership.  But he misses the opportunity to mention even more radical change.

It’s not that leverage will go away; rather, firms will gain leverage through staffing that goes beyond using associates (or even staff attorneys).   Firms must learn that work that can be done by non-attorneys will need to be taken off the attorney’s plate.

I imagine that the larger firms will continue to find ways to push work down to paralegals and secretaries.  But they will also increasingly resort to the use of contract attorneys domestically and legal process outsourcing (to gain access to a cost effective talent pool in India).

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