What will we see in the law firm of the future? It is a question Richard Susskind considered more than a decade ago in his book, "The Future of Law," and again in last year's book, "The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services." With the economy what it is, Susskind is far from alone in considering this question, as two recently published articles underscore.
In The Philadelphia Inquirer this week, Larry E. Ribstein tells business writer Chris Mondics that law firms have yet to figure out the model that will get them out of the economic mess in which they find themselves. Ribstein, a professor of business law at the University of Illinois College of Law and author of a blog that focuses on business law, Ideoblog, says that their response so far -- cutting costs and discounting rates -- is not a cure.
"My theory is that big law firms don't have a coherent business model," Ribstein says in the article. "From a client standpoint, why would you pay so much per hour for a lawyer who works for a big firm vs. [a lower rate] for a lawyer who works for a smaller firm? What value does the big firm add?"
Instead, firms need to take a far more creative approach. One he suggests: Law firms might raise capital from investors. That would provide firms with lower-cost financing and make them answerable to investors. But before that could happen, of course, there would have to be changes in the legal ethics rules that bar such arrangements.
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Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on August 13,
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