Thursday, November 26, 2009

Law Firm Business Model Implodes!

Wow. Rough day in the exotic and exciting life of a big city [unemployed] attorney. Had to come home to see the Fam for Turkey Day. Rather than take the train or airplane, to which I had grown accustomed in recent years, my broke ass took the bus. I convinced myself that it's actually a more luxurious ride than a train because buses often have Wi-Fi. Not the one I rode. When I asked the bus driver about Wi-Fi, he pointed out the plug. Mmmmm. No. So, instead of posting this from the bus, I am sitting up until 1:30 on Turkey Day Eve sharing my tale. I am so cool, with my duffle bag and lunch box. I can't even afford to buy a decent dinner before I hit the road. I packed PB&J. Isn't it grand, being a high-powered attorney?

So, to what I intended on Posting from the bus:

My friend, Ronnie, sent me an article that he thinks I should share with you all (or y'all if you're southern, he-haw!). As an aside, Ronnie is several years younger than me. When I was in law school, he was a senior at the undergrad of the same name. We met while we both worked in the Law Library. I would tell him almost daily... Ronnie, you're smart and athletic and handsome. Why do you want to go to law school? You will seriously lose points if you go. Like many starry-eyed pre-laws... he didn't listen to my tales of woe. He went to a law school in the deep south and surely regrets it... as he too is unemployed. And he was kind enough to stay good friends with me so I could tell him "I told you so" regularly.
Anyways, gotta love Ronnie.

So he sends me this article about how law firms are undercutting each others' bids for business--to the point where the low fees make business unsustainable. I just chuckle to myself. They are offering "free discovery" (i.e. discovery for 5 cents/hr done by Indians in sweat shops in Calcutta) and free motions.... LOL! Why do I laugh, you ask? Isn't it hilarious that they could all agree to go lockstep on increasing salaries for first years... remember when they all increased the first year salary to $165K? Don't get excited pre-laws... when I say "they all".. that is in the 'top 20 NYC firm' sense of the word. As in, 'not likely to be a $165K salary for you' kind of salary. Anyways... these firms could all agree to stay lockstep and pay associates the same amount. But they could not agree at this DIRE time, not to undercut each other? What options would companies involved in American Litigation have???? If all of the major law firms decided that they would not drop hourly fees below a certain amount... then the companies would be forced to pay it. Instead.. being the EXCELLENT business people that lawyers have proven themselves to be, they are running themselves into the red. They are firing talent daily. They are shipping jobs to India. They are ruining the legal industry.

Should I hold a summit and explain this to them? DON'T REDUCE FEES. YOU ARE DEVALUING OUR WORK! Companies will always remember this time as the moment they learned that attorneys weren't worth anything. How low will they go?


  1. A law degree from an American law school has never been so worthless, and yet the cost of attendance, training, and bar preperation has never been greater! This is madness.

    Foreign lawyers and non-lawyers can now take over American legal work (thanks ABA "Ethics" Committee). At the same time, U.S. law schools produce about 45,000 JDs every year (thanks, ABA).

    Hell, just refer pre-law students to Craig's List ads seeking to hire lawyers for peanuts. Don't forget to show them doc review postings. This SHOULD instill some sense into them.

  2. Sorry, Nando, they're all convinced that reality will never happen to them. Madness takes its toll.



Blog Template by - Header Image by Arpi