The Guardian recently reported that senior partners at Magic Circle firms now charge 1,100 pounds an hour— that’s $1,500 plus an expensive lunch. U.S. firms average a bit less, but their rates are not for the faint-of-budget, either. The National Law Journal reported that for 2014 the top 14 U.S.-based firms had a $980 average partner billable hour rate. Senior partners charge well above that and top out in the same zip code as their Magic Circle competitors.
Monica Bay’s recent article “Rocket Lawyer CEO on the Quick Demise of ABA Pilot Program” in this publication warrants another take. The author interviewed Charley Moore, the Founder and CEO of Rocket Lawyer, seeking insight into the American Bar Association’s decision to pull the plug on ABA Law Connect, the promising joint venture it had forged with Mr. Moore’s company.
Mark Cohen co-authored this article with Colin LaChance.
With no more brass rings to strive for, what will motivate innovative young lawyers to spend their prime years in a traditional firm environment?
Dorota Turlejski launched Uplawed, an estate law boutique, in September 2015 following four years with a mid-size, full-service Ottawa firm. She was doing well with the firm that first took her on as an articling student, and was on her way to becoming a successful, traditional lawyer. Therein lay the problem. The more she became the sort of lawyer that does well in a traditional environment, the less she resembled the person she knew in her heart she was and wanted to be – a scientist with legal training.
The future of lawyers is a hot topic these days. Some suggest that technology- especially the rise of artificial intelligence (AI)- will render many obsolete. Others point to the incursion of other professional groups- notably the Big Four and consultancies- into what was once the “legal” space. There’s no end to the “evidence” marshaled to support the death of lawyers.
Prophesying lawyers’ future has become a cottage industry. It has made Richard Susskind famous; drawn institutional money and entrepreneurs into the once-static legal space; and created a ripple effect on the legal Academy.
While legal practice-what lawyers do-may not have changed much over the past few decades, the delivery of legal service-how and by what structure they are delivered- certainly has. Disaggregation of legal tasks has disrupted the longstanding hegemony law firms have had over the delivery of legal services.
New Elements of Legal Delivery
It’s that time of year again when gifts are exchanged and returned; resolutions are made and quickly breached; and hopes for the future abound- so long as one stays away from the news and social media.
So, in the spirit of the season- and recognizing what follows is as likely as Dentons foregoing future acquisitions- here is a holiday wish list for the legal vertical.