"Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

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09042014
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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby 09042014 » Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:02 am

JCougar wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:The Clients aren't buying your education bro. They are buying your talent. You are right, you don't learn more at Yale than at Cardozo, hell, I could make the case they actually learn less at Yale. Yale is better than Cardozo because it's more selective. The selection process is far from perfect, but it's good enough. It's why firms skim the cream of the crop off the TTTs.

High stakes litigation and high stakes transactions require high stakes talent.

The DUI lawyer isn't competing with the ERISA lawyer.


This is exactly my point, though. The Yale "prestige" really doesn't have any value in and of itself. It has value because of the students it attracts. If these same students went elsewhere--if they really were elite attorneys--they would graduate and (if the credentials that got them into Yale in the first place actually had any value, which they obviously do to some extent) prove themselves with their work product anyway. So if getting the Biglaw job was tied to work product rather than the school's name, there's no reason to pay an atrocious price for an elite school.


You can't look at work product until you get a job though. Law students don't have any work product. Grades are a very rough guess of how you might perform. But you gotta account for the difference in competition. Which is why they just recruit at good schools and take the top from the rest.

But firms already do this. It's the entire point of the Summer Program. If you can't hack it, you don't get an offer for full time. If you go full time, and can't hack it, you get laid off.

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby JCougar » Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:08 am

Desert Fox wrote:You can't look at work product until you get a job though. Law students don't have any work product. Grades are a very rough guess of how you might perform. But you gotta account for the difference in competition. Which is why they just recruit at good schools and take the top from the rest.

But firms already do this. It's the entire point of the Summer Program. If you can't hack it, you don't get an offer for full time. If you go full time, and can't hack it, you get laid off.


There's no need for big firms to hire right out of school. They could go almost completely to laterals if they wanted. So they could rely on your past work product to sell your services.

They do what you are talking about right now by casting a wide net and letting the situation sort itself out through attrition, but the point is that is a very inefficient way of doing things from the client's perspective.

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby rouser » Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:24 am

JCougar wrote:there's no reason to pay an atrocious price for an elite school.

selectivity alone doesn't do the trick

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby JCougar » Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:37 am

rouser wrote:
JCougar wrote:there's no reason to pay an atrocious price for an elite school.

selectivity alone doesn't do the trick


It does from the employer's perspective.

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby HeavenWood » Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:40 am

JCougar wrote:
HeavenWood wrote:Is the cougar in your avatar going to land safely on the rock or will it breach it at an odd angle and then fall to a very painful death?

Also, is it John Cougar, Johnny Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp, John Mellencamp, or that pseudo-populist asshole from that flyover state who thinks his opinions mean something just because he's sold a few records?


The cougar in the avatar is a sure-footed feline. But the name not a reference to the singer.

An old flame you met at a furry convention, mayhaps?

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby JCougar » Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:46 am

Not that, either.

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby dingbat » Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:14 am

JCougar wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:You can't look at work product until you get a job though. Law students don't have any work product. Grades are a very rough guess of how you might perform. But you gotta account for the difference in competition. Which is why they just recruit at good schools and take the top from the rest.

But firms already do this. It's the entire point of the Summer Program. If you can't hack it, you don't get an offer for full time. If you go full time, and can't hack it, you get laid off.


There's no need for big firms to hire right out of school. They could go almost completely to laterals if they wanted. So they could rely on your past work product to sell your services.

They do what you are talking about right now by casting a wide net and letting the situation sort itself out through attrition, but the point is that is a very inefficient way of doing things from the client's perspective.
Then where are they going to hire from? Personal injury firms?

Let's back up a second. No one is hiring biglaw because they have yale graduates. People hire biglaw firms because they're the best and the brightest. A firm signals they're the best and the brightest in 3 ways: 1) Having the biggest and most complicated clients 2) winning a lot 3) hiring the best and brightest
How does hiring affect this:
1), by exposing first/second year associates to the work is both the best way to train them and the best way to gauge if they can handle the work.
2) has no bearing
3) signalling that they've hired the best students from the top schools is a lot more effective than saying they've poached lawyers from smaller firms, who haven't had exposure to the complex work biglaw performs and have't been subjected to the demanding rigor and quality control that biglaw claims to have.

If they keep poaching from smaller firms, they're indicating that the lawyers at the smaller firms are just as good, and there's no need to go to biglaw. Second, if someone is at a mid-size firm for 3-4 years and successful enough to be sought after by biglaw, they might already be on a partnership track at their firm.
Third, if a firm doesn't have 1st/2nd year associates, who is going to do the grunt work?

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby JCougar » Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:29 pm

dingbat wrote: Then where are they going to hire from? Personal injury firms?


Unless you're talking about transactional/consulting, for every biglaw case, there's a firm on the other side of it dealing with the very same issues. Furthermore, there's regulatory agency jobs in the middle, certifying such lawsuits, etc. There's smaller firms that do the same stuff for smaller businesses on the same scale, etc. Not all businesses decide to hire NLJ 250 firms. So there's plenty of non-Biglaw people getting experience with the exact same issues.

Let's back up a second. No one is hiring biglaw because they have yale graduates. People hire biglaw firms because they're the best and the brightest. A firm signals they're the best and the brightest in 3 ways: 1) Having the biggest and most complicated clients 2) winning a lot 3) hiring the best and brightest


You're falling victim to the exact same "empty prestige" trap that the market has fallen for over the last 30 or so years. Moreover, numbers 1 and 2 above show that you don't know much about what kind of cases Biglaw deals with. Biglaw has the biggest clients, but the legal issues involving these clients aren't any more complex in the legal/intellectual sense than any other. They are complex in that there's probably a lot more shit-work and discovery involved, more people to interview, etc. Thus, their legal issues require more manpower, but they don't necessarily require smarter attorneys.

And number 3 is basically begging the question--a logical fallacy. They're the best and the brightest because they hire the best and the brightest? My point above is that the best measure of "best and the brightest" is actually work product -- rather than what school you went to, your LSAT, and your law school GPA. Even if you're bright, you're not the "best" from the client's perspective if you bounce from Biglaw after two years because you can't hack it or you lose interest. And while LSAT, GPA, and law school rank are a rough measure of how well you will do as a lawyer, it's far from a perfect measure.

How does hiring affect this:
1), by exposing first/second year associates to the work is both the best way to train them and the best way to gauge if they can handle the work.


I think you have a warped view of the kind of work a first and second year Biglaw associate does. It's a lot of makework and boring, mundane, repetitive tasks, and if you do get actual legal issues to research and a chance to write anything but an internal memo, it's going to be on a small sub-section of the case regarding one or two legal issues. It's really not any different than working in shitlaw, except the client has much more money. In fact, in shitlaw, you get more responsibility faster, because they can't pay you to sit around and do makework that the clients will refuse to pay for.

3) signalling that they've hired the best students from the top schools is a lot more effective than saying they've poached lawyers from smaller firms, who haven't had exposure to the complex work biglaw performs and have't been subjected to the demanding rigor and quality control that biglaw claims to have.


I've somewhat addressed this above, but this again shows how warped your view is regarding Biglaw "work." The legal issues Biglaw tackles aren't any more complex or intellectually demanding than your average family law lawyer tackles when fighting over inheritance of a trust or estate or pension death benefit. Biglaw demands possibly more diligence, because the client will be more likely to find out if it was you that fucked up--rather than blaming it on the judge or something. Biglaw also might require more work for a single case, since there's more discovery, etc., but the work, especially at the associate level, doesn't require tackling more complex legal issues than "shitlaw."

If they keep poaching from smaller firms, they're indicating that the lawyers at the smaller firms are just as good, and there's no need to go to biglaw. Second, if someone is at a mid-size firm for 3-4 years and successful enough to be sought after by biglaw, they might already be on a partnership track at their firm.


I'd bet that a lot of lawyers at small firms would be just as good at handling Biglaw legal issues. Like I said, the magic of Biglaw isn't that they tackle more complex legal issues in the intellectual sense. Their issues are usually only more complex regarding volume of the work they have to trudge through for a single case. And, as I said before, for every suit that Biglaw defends, there's a plaintiff's firm filing the suit and many times a regulatory agency involved in that very same lawsuit tackling the very same issues.

Third, if a firm doesn't have 1st/2nd year associates, who is going to do the grunt work?


You're trying to have your cake and eat it, too, here. If first and second year associates are doing gruntwork, than how are they getting the "elite training" you described above?

Biglaw is getting less gruntwork because clients are figuring out that doc reviewers in India are able to do the same kind of work Biglaw associates used to do. Except Biglaw charged their clients $250/hour for their associate's time, while Indian and even American doc reviewers will do the same makework for less than a tenth of that cost.

The bottom line is that all associates everywhere get the crap work handed to them. Biglaw isn't any better than shitlaw in providing training handling legal research issues. Law across the board is more similar as it is different. Landlord/tenant cases and M&A cases are different mostly because the clients are different and there's more people involved in the latter. But the actual legal concepts you deal with aren't measurably more challenging. Some of the most challenging stuff you'll ever deal with is procedural quirks regarding civ pro or admin law, which are common to just about every field of law.

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby androstan » Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:39 pm

JCougar wrote:
dingbat wrote:The bottom line is that all associates everywhere get the crap work handed to them. Biglaw isn't any better than shitlaw in providing training handling legal research issues. Law across the board is more similar as it is different. Landlord/tenant cases and M&A cases are different mostly because the clients are different and there's more people involved in the latter. But the actual legal concepts you deal with aren't measurably more challenging. Some of the most challenging stuff you'll ever deal with is procedural quirks regarding civ pro or admin law, which are common to just about every field of law.


wut

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby JCougar » Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:58 pm

androstan wrote:wut


I guess I should qualify that. It depends on how you define "shitlaw." If you're talking about a PI mill or a doc review temping job, then yes, you do get better training in Biglaw. But if you're talking about what people do in a legitimate but smaller firm (what people describe on here as "shitlaw"), then you are more likely to get more responsibility faster. If you want to see the inside of a courtroom or even argue before a judge in your first or second year, smaller firms are a much better bet.

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby thesealocust » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:50 pm

JCougar: I was thinking of ways to refute or qualify many of your claims about biglaw as I read your post. Then I got to the end:

JCougar wrote:Landlord/tenant cases and M&A cases are different mostly because the clients are different and there's more people involved in the latter.


...and gave up. Instead I will go weep softly in a corner and regret the time I spend on this website.

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby keg411 » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:34 pm

JCougar is just bitter he missed out on BigLaw and is trying to justify it to himself. There are plenty of legitimate criticisms of what is happening now, and he's missing every single one of them. It's self-delusion at its finest.

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby gwuorbust » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:59 pm

I think that JCougar is right in that some people get more experience at small law firms. Hell, there are many places where you can get much, much more real legal experience than in biglaw. But there is no doubt that biglaw is still the best bet for most people, even if a lot of the work is mundane at first.

Learning how to do "real" legal work is way more complicated than say "get some experience." That is a recipe for disaster. Mostly because if you aren't doing it right you are ingraining bad habits. So, for example, when someone says they've done "20 trials," to me that is nearly meaningless. If you've done 20 trials, but you did them all wrong, did you really learn anything? I'd postulate that it would be better for you to not see any trial time than to ingrain bad habits. So yes, work product matters. But simply learning through working is not the solution - either in small law or biglaw. Instead you need to be learning how to do things right throughout your career. And biglaw is usually an environment that demands perfection.

While the biglaw model has many flaws, that does not mean that small law firms are a de facto better learning environment. I've seen many lawyers do trial work and most are simply awful. Once you learn the wrong habits, it is hard to unlearn those habits.

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby XxSpyKEx » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:19 pm

ITT: JDUnderground v. TLS. Wonder who's going to win this battle :?

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby JCougar » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:32 pm

keg411 wrote:JCougar is just bitter he missed out on BigLaw and is trying to justify it to himself. There are plenty of legitimate criticisms of what is happening now, and he's missing every single one of them. It's self-delusion at its finest.


keg411, this isn't the first time you've speculated about my personal motivations on here. I'd like for you to stop, and instead address the substance of what I said.

As for Biglaw, there's no question that I wouldn't be happy working for a large bureaucratic organization that is inefficiently run on purpose for the sake of generating more profits. I'm just not a good personality fit, and I left my previous job for similar reasons. There's probably only a few firms out there that would really appeal to me that people here qualify as Biglaw, and most of them have stopped hiring summers completely for the reasons I laid out above. I haven't taken out a full debt load, I've been good at minimizing COL expenses, and I made okay money this summer to pay for some living costs this year, so I am actually confident I can live comfortably in the areas I would really like to practice in.

With that said, I have a number of friends in Biglaw that are 5th year or greater associates. Their stories confirm to me what I'm saying. You don't have to believe me, but as far as I'm concerned, the question is settled. It's actually CW about Biglaw that you're doing a lot of busywork and makework far beyond your 2nd year. Take a gander at Above the Law if you don't believe me...Elie is always bringing it up. Not that Elie alone is proof of anything, but it conforms mostly to what I hear from everyone else. I'm not sure how that amounts to "training so elite that anyone who tried to lateral into Biglaw would be lost," which is what another poster was contending.

For whatever reason, people on here seem to think that corporate transactional work is all that Biglaw does. But that's not true. It does Labor/Employment, Real Estate, Tax, Environmental, Tort defense, etc. That is all subject matter that a whole slew of smaller firms and government agencies deal with on a daily basis. The work Biglaw does regarding the very same legal doctrines is not substantially different from what these "shitlaw" firms do, except that Biglaw's clients simply happen to be richer. That's the only major difference. There's no reason why someone practicing "shitlaw" in the same area wouldn't be qualified to do "Biglaw" work at the drop of a hat. The work simply isn't substantially different.

And regarding M&A, securities law, antitrust, etc., the legal doctrine is not any more complex or difficult than something like family law, trusts & estates, etc. It takes diligence and dedication to succeed in these areas, but I don't believe for one second that it takes some elite sort of talent that shitlaw attorneys lack. The cognitive problems you are solving are the same level of complexity. And often, a lot of issues even in these cases relate to the rules of evidence and civil procedure, which are rules that every litigator has to know.

Sure, Biglaw is more demanding regarding perfection in each area, but that doesn't mean that "shitlaw" work doesn't teach you how to practice in the field. Any dilligent shitlaw attorney could trade places with a biglaw attorney and produce basically the same work.

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby JCougar » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:50 pm

gwuorbust wrote:I think that JCougar is right in that some people get more experience at small law firms. Hell, there are many places where you can get much, much more real legal experience than in biglaw. But there is no doubt that biglaw is still the best bet for most people, even if a lot of the work is mundane at first.


Let's not conflate two different issues here (not accusing you personally of doing this, but I want to clarify). I'm not saying that Biglaw isn't the best bet for a lot of people. Putting prestige on your resume in this field is a great idea--precisely for the reasons I stated. The legal industry hires on prestige first and foremost, and lets the "ability" thing sort itself out on its own. It's all about justifying your outrageous bill to the clients, and to the indiscriminate client, they are willing to pay a premium for prestige--whether it be empty prestige or not, they won't know.

Learning how to do "real" legal work is way more complicated than say "get some experience." That is a recipe for disaster. Mostly because if you aren't doing it right you are ingraining bad habits. So, for example, when someone says they've done "20 trials," to me that is nearly meaningless. If you've done 20 trials, but you did them all wrong, did you really learn anything? I'd postulate that it would be better for you to not see any trial time than to ingrain bad habits. So yes, work product matters. But simply learning through working is not the solution - either in small law or biglaw. Instead you need to be learning how to do things right throughout your career. And biglaw is usually an environment that demands perfection.


I agree. I just disagreed with someone over whether Biglaw is the only place where you can learn to be a fantastic, elite-level lawyer. There's plenty of options where you get much better training. Public defender is vastly better training than Biglaw, and so is working for many government regulatory bodies. Small firms, unless they're personal injury mills or crap like that, are more likely to give you more responsibility faster.

If I were a client, I'd pay for a firm like Axiom that takes laterals only with demonstrated work experience--and an economically non-perverse billing model--over a Biglaw billable hours factory that hires only from Harvard any day. But that's just the way I happen to see things. People can have a different opinion if they want. I'm pretty confident that the industry is gradually moving toward my view of things.

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby IrwinM.Fletcher » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:55 pm

JCougar wrote:And regarding M&A, securities law, antitrust, etc., the legal doctrine is not any more complex or difficult than something like family law


lol

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby JCougar » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:17 am

IrwinM.Fletcher wrote:
JCougar wrote:And regarding M&A, securities law, antitrust, etc., the legal doctrine is not any more complex or difficult than something like family law


lol


Perhaps you can tell me how a CNX Gas two-step freeze-out is any more intellectually complex to understand than some farmer battling a coal company over sub-surface mineral rights on his land in Smalltown, USA? Christ, regarding Securities Reg, 12b5 claims are basically color-by-numbers.

The only difference in difficulty is a perceived difference stemming from empty prestige.

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby JCougar » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:45 am

And, as for my motivation, in case keg411 is wondering, it's threefold:

1) Clients are turning away from Biglaw because of the inefficiencies in how these firms operate. That's just a simple fact. They're not all doing it right away, but it will be a gradual process as all industry-wide changes are. It will be better long-term for this entire profession if they adapt to more ethical billing models and practices, and operate with a more rational compensation structure. It will be better for everyone involved, from the associates to the partners. Associates may make less starting out, but they'll possibly work less hours and have better lives, and considering point 2 which I'm about to make, they'd have less debt, so it would be all okay. I think clients will have no problem continuing to pay high prices to experienced, elite law partners, but they want the business model to change to emphasize efficiency.

2) It will be better for law students if high salaries are tied not to what ring of prestige you buy into when choosing a law school--but instead tied to your work product after law school. If law schools didn't command placement via their prestige alone, there would be no justification for them to charge exorbitant tuition to incoming students. Right now, it's just a "pay-to-play" racket, except not everyone who pays gets to play. There would be no rankings "arms race" to drive up costs, and the US News rankings wouldn't matter all that much. If you had great potential as a prospective law student, you could just go to the local in-state school and produce a great work product like many people in PhD fields end up doing. Some people may think high Biglaw starting salaries are great for associates, but most of the Biglaw starting salary bubble ends up being captured by the law schools, anyways, so I doubt associates are any better off now than they were 20 years ago when the pay was 50% lower, but so was tuition (in real terms). The only thing "NYC to $160K" does is make law schools raise their tuition because gullible 0Ls will all think they have a shot and can pay off this new higher tuition. But even for those who make it, it's the schools that end up making more money, and not the debt-burdened associates.

3) This would force schools to actually train their students so that they do become successful and put out a great work product. So instead of going through three years of the cumbersome and terrible "socratic method," you'd get a lot more hands-on experience and feedback on your work, and teachers would be free to use classroom methods that actually worked to impart knowledge and wisdom. The entire reason why the Socratic method has survived so long is because it doesn't really matter what law schools actually teach you these days. All that matters is the label of "prestige" they slap onto your resume, which allows them to dick around with you for three years via "cold calling" and barely teach you anything.

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby thesealocust » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:00 am

There are two major issues I take with your arguments, JCougar.

First, they're generalizations - statements like "Public defender is vastly better training than Biglaw." Really now? Care to back that up? I think anybody would concede that some portion of big firms provide shitty training, but there's enormous variation between firms, regions and practices. As for public defenders, they're often badly over-loaded with matters. That makes them busy, but it's a pretty big leap to say that makes it "vastly better training." There aren't many people singing the praises of public defender quality. In fact, a major component of biglaw probono is... wait for it... filing appeals for defendants who got poor assistance of counsel from their public defenders. Things just aren't that black and white.

Second, you completely discount the effect of stakes on a legal practice. While small firms and public interest outfits might get you more of a certain kind of experience earlier in your career, it's for different clients with different matters. Being a lawyer isn't a game to be won by standing in front of a judge as early and often as possible. There's a reason big firm practices have more hierarchy than small firm practices - the consequences of the litigation matters they're involved in are usually higher. Hence the higher fees too. The doc review, motion drafting, deposing, etc. are all integral parts of the practice at certain levels as well. In some of your posts you argue that there are smaller firms on the other side of the table, but that's hardly always the case - one great example is Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. v. Airgas. And that is to say nothing of transactional practices and billion dollar deals which have little in the way of smaller firm analogue.

Most of your points have a kernel of validity - and indeed are reasons why many opt to skip biglaw or to move from biglaw to smaller firms or public sector work. But the uniform indictment of biglaw totally misses the mark. Some big firm practices areas really are more complex and challenging (high level tax practice is a great example) even if some aren't (comoditized structured products, like mortgage backed security work, can be a great example). Some biglaw firms are extremely efficient with lean staffing, because that's how you get more work and bigger profits. Some biglaw firms and some practices offer incredible training and staggering early responsibility. Others are bottom feeders or labor camps or about to implode.

This is to say nothing of the shitty small firms or government agencies out there. You really think the federal government is a model of efficiency? Or that you'll get nurturing and training and substance and engagement at every small firm across the country?

You can talk about the structural differences between small and large firms, but you're on thin ice if you try to draw blanket value judgements between the two. The objective evidence - big firms' profitability, hiring models, benefits/salary, ability to attract clients, and existence over the long term - strongly suggests at least some of them are doing something right.

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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:20 pm

NYC associate here with some comments.

JCougar wrote:And, as for my motivation, in case keg411 is wondering, it's threefold:

1) Clients are turning away from Biglaw because of the inefficiencies in how these firms operate. That's just a simple fact. They're not all doing it right away, but it will be a gradual process as all industry-wide changes are. It will be better long-term for this entire profession if they adapt to more ethical billing models and practices, and operate with a more rational compensation structure. It will be better for everyone involved, from the associates to the partners. Associates may make less starting out, but they'll possibly work less hours and have better lives, and considering point 2 which I'm about to make, they'd have less debt, so it would be all okay. I think clients will have no problem continuing to pay high prices to experienced, elite law partners, but they want the business model to change to emphasize efficiency.

You're talking about two different, and might I add contradictory, things here. Clients and firms don't care about ethical billing models; they just care about getting the work done at the lowest costs. Salary jobs demand long hours, not just in law but in most professional fields, precisely because the employer gets more value for the same cost if the employee works longer hours. Changing the billing model won't help associates work less. The only thing that would do that is revoking the overtime-exempt status of professional jobs, so that employers had to pay more if they worked longer hours. Only then would firms actually care about making sure associates aren't overworked.

Also, clients don't want to pay "elite law partners" for everything. Associate training is on-the-job training, and while I've learned a lot in the past couple years, it's been while churning out things for clients. Even adding in training time, there's a lot of work to be done that doesn't require the experience of a partner, and the client would balk at paying for that experience. Junior associates do grueling, simpler tasks, senior associates supervise a number of juniors, and partners handle the high-level tasks. The client only pays for the partner's experience when it's needed, and everything else is done more cheaply. Clients will always complain about costs, no matter what the billing model is, but they haven't revolted against billables because the system is less inefficient than their complaining suggests.

JCougar wrote:2) It will be better for law students if high salaries are tied not to what ring of prestige you buy into when choosing a law school--but instead tied to your work product after law school. If law schools didn't command placement via their prestige alone, there would be no justification for them to charge exorbitant tuition to incoming students.

You have this backwards. There are 40,000 graduates a year, and employers need some way to distinguish between entry-level job seekers, even if it's arbitrary. They care about the prestige system, not because the students choose top schools, but because the top schools choose those students. You don't buy into Yale; Yale buys into you. Employers like that stamp of approval because it's hard to distinguish from law students otherwise.

The real problem is that schools that don't command placement "via their prestige" are still getting paid exorbitant tuition anyway. It shouldn't cost the same to go to Suffolk as it does to Harvard, but it does. That has nothing to do with the prestige of schools or their placement value.

JCougar wrote:The only thing "NYC to $160K" does is make law schools raise their tuition because gullible 0Ls will all think they have a shot and can pay off this new higher tuition.

It's not NYC pay that's driving this. It's the free availability of student loans. Low-ranked schools can charge $40K/year because people can come up with that kind of money far too easily, completely ignoring how likely they are to pay it back. These days a lot of people go to schools *knowing* they'll probably never pay off their loans. They're not gullible and they're not confident about getting $160K. They just honestly think it costs nothing to try, even knowing the poor odds of success, and they're right. At least, the costs don't catch up to them until after they fail. This is like letting people gamble on credit, and while buying lottery tickets with credit cards is illegal in most states, we don't just permit this, we encourage it through government-backed loans.

You should be lobbying for student loan reform. Make schools with lower job placement eligible for less loan money. That'll drive down the amount of tuition local schools can actually charge, since most students won't pay more than they can borrow. Then you'll actually have the lower-cost local option you seem to want so badly.

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IrwinM.Fletcher
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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby IrwinM.Fletcher » Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:56 pm

JCoug's argument:

(1) When comparing small firms and biglaw, I will toss out transactional work almost completely and focus just on litigation because small shops don't get shit for transactional work;

(2) Small firms who don't give substantive, challenging legal work to entry levels don't count either. No personal injury shops, insurance defense mills, DUI specialists, divorce lawyers, real estate closing specialists, or whatever else. No one can question this even though it makes up a huge portion of small firm work, especially in big cities. Sorry- ONLY small firms that get really good work are on the table guys. Nevermind that I am basically describing boutiques or midlaw instead of what people perceive on here as shitlaw.

(3) Now that I've narrowed "small firms" down to about the 5% highest quality sampling of that category, let's compare the experience that an attorney gets in that sphere compared to biglaw for litigation and litigation only. My guys see the courtroom more so we're better automatically. Stakes, please, totally irrelevant. U mad bros?

(4) Somehow biglaw is to blame for astronomical tuitions at TTTs, even though these schools never placed more than a smattering into the six figure stratosphere to begin with. Federally funded student loans, moral hazard for schools regarding tuition hikes, and the inability to discharge said loans through personal bankruptcy all pale in comparison to the evils perpetrated by a hundred large law firms who dare to pay a sliver of each graduating class 160k. Those. Bastards.



Nobody here is dumb enough to say that biglaw is always 100% the best option for everyone, and nobody is saying it. Arguing, however, that the ONLY advantage to choosing models and bottles is the empty benefit of enhanced prestige is even more exponentially stupid than the strawman you are so vigorously crusading against.

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androstan
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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby androstan » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:07 pm

tl;dr

SA with a litigation group that outsources all their doc review. Feelgoodsman.

09042014
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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby 09042014 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:59 pm

androstan wrote:tl;dr

SA with a litigation group that outsources all their doc review. Feelgoodsman.


Doc Review seems like a good way to get dem hours in a pinch.

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JCougar
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Re: "Suicide Pricing" & the coming law firm crisis

Postby JCougar » Fri Nov 30, 2012 4:02 pm

IrwinM.Fletcher wrote:JCoug's argument:

(1) When comparing small firms and biglaw, I will toss out transactional work almost completely and focus just on litigation because small shops don't get shit for transactional work;

(2) Small firms who don't give substantive, challenging legal work to entry levels don't count either. No personal injury shops, insurance defense mills, DUI specialists, divorce lawyers, real estate closing specialists, or whatever else. No one can question this even though it makes up a huge portion of small firm work, especially in big cities. Sorry- ONLY small firms that get really good work are on the table guys. Nevermind that I am basically describing boutiques or midlaw instead of what people perceive on here as shitlaw.

(3) Now that I've narrowed "small firms" down to about the 5% highest quality sampling of that category, let's compare the experience that an attorney gets in that sphere compared to biglaw for litigation and litigation only. My guys see the courtroom more so we're better automatically. Stakes, please, totally irrelevant. U mad bros?

(4) Somehow biglaw is to blame for astronomical tuitions at TTTs, even though these schools never placed more than a smattering into the six figure stratosphere to begin with. Federally funded student loans, moral hazard for schools regarding tuition hikes, and the inability to discharge said loans through personal bankruptcy all pale in comparison to the evils perpetrated by a hundred large law firms who dare to pay a sliver of each graduating class 160k. Those. Bastards.

Nobody here is dumb enough to say that biglaw is always 100% the best option for everyone, and nobody is saying it. Arguing, however, that the ONLY advantage to choosing models and bottles is the empty benefit of enhanced prestige is even more exponentially stupid than the strawman you are so vigorously crusading against.


I'm too lazy to address all your mischaracterizations regarding the things I've said. That would take me about a day. I really think you underestimate the amount of small firms, plaintiff firms, and government agencies that tackle the exact same cases that Biglaw does. For example, in Employment Law, the EEOC is involved in virtually every case, and they have to certify the case before it even gets to Biglaw. The SEC or other similar agencies are involved in many corporate cases, not to mention the DOJ.

I think you and a lot of others are missing my point and reading more into what I'm saying than I actually am. Initially, I responded to one poster's assertion that Biglaw training was so elite that it's silly for Biglaw to hire laterals out of smaller firms, government agencies, etc. This is patently not true, as Biglaw routinely does this anyway. It's not extremely common, but it happens far more often than people on TLS like to admit.

And unless you're talking about a handful of small firms in NYC that basically focus only on transactional, there's a lot more that Biglaw does that isn't transactional. I doubt transactional even makes up 30% of all Biglaw jobs. Someone had a chart that broke down the number of positions in Biglaw by department, but I can't find it right now. If I recall correctly, transactional was a decent chunk, but far from the majority. Fortune 500 clients have many more issues than just M&A.




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