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Small Firms Drawing Big Attention from Big Clients

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Are clients and power shifting from large firms to small firms?  If the recent slew of blog posts on this topic are any evidence, it seems that smaller firms are gaining a bigger voice – and a bigger cut of big corporation business.   Consider this evidence:

From Justin Patten I learned about this post from Kevin O’Keefe of Lex Blog on what has been termed a legal power shift from large to smaller firms.  O’Keefe’s Exhibit A is is Dan Harris, and his China Law Blog, who recently snagged an opportunity to comment from a big firm which needed to get administrative approval for its remarks.  Dan Hull of What About Clients picks up on links by exhorting small firms to:

get off your knees, quit bottom-feeding, chuck both your “niche” market
thinking and your work-life balance nonsense (the first 8 to 10 years
for associates, and lawyering done right after that, should be hard
work for even the gifted), steal the good clients, provide outrageous
service and get rich.

And last, this story from, Great Small Firm Employment Lawyers Fly Under the Radar notes that:

there are a great many superb lawyers practicing
outside the headlines at smaller firms all over the state…They may not have the same name
recognition — but they also don’t usually come with the same price tag.

When I started MyShingle back in December 2002, you didn’t see articles like this.  Now they’re out there all the time.   And as technology  continues to improve and enable more solo and small firms to increase efficiencies, expect the power shift to gain even more momentum.

  • Justin Patten

    Carolyn, As you say what is underpinning this are the new technologies which act as a huge leveller. It is the manifestation of the principles of Thomas Friedman’s book “The World Is Flat.”
    Best wishes,

  • To quote Seth Godin, “small is the new big.”
    Since I started practicing law in 1984, all of the experts were saying that law firms either needed to be big or small as the medium would die. What I find so interesting now is that what used to be considered large are now considered medium and those “large/medium” firms are now looking to merge. For example, in my city of Seattle, I always looked at Preston Gates and Ellis (law firm to Microsoft and Starbucks) as a large firm. But now that they are merging with Kilpatrick Lockhart, the reasons I am hearing from my friends over at Preston is that they wanted to do this to get bigger to compete better nationally and internationally.
    Seems that as law becomes more international, the large regional firms are the prime merger bait. 350 lawyers isn’t large any more, it’s regional. 2,000 is large.
    As this firms get bigger and bigger, the quality of the bottom feeding (sorry Dan Hull) will only increase. A small firm like mine would be delighted to get even 5% of the work spun off from the Preston-Kilpatrick merger due to conflicts. Not to mention the SMEs who are going to find that they are no longer interested in competing with the huge MNCs for face time with their lawyer.
    Sorry for getting so off topic on you, but I find this whole thing fascinating.

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