law business

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Law firm business models are under a lot of pressure. And this has been true for quite some time. When I was a young lawyer at a regional corporate firm, I would go to the office early in the morning, leave in the evening, and bill almost every minute in between. And clients would pay for all that time. But it’s increasingly difficult to get clients to oblige.

Companies have long complained about the ever-increasing hourly rates charged for legal work. And during the recession in the late 2000’s, they began to push back on rates in a big way. They also started pulling more of their work in-house. Companies were able to do more of their own legal work because there was simply less to do during the recession. Plus their in-house lawyers were willing to work extra hard in light of market turmoil and job insecurity. Then, when business began to pick up and┬ácorporate legal departments once again needed help with overflow, they simply hired new lawyers rather than sending the work to their outside firms.

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One of my favorite memes from the interwebs is “You’re doing it wrong.” To quote the Urban Dictionary, it’s “what you would say to someone who is failing it miserably,” for example, a soccer player standing on his head (no hands!), a pickup driving down a boat ramp into the water head first, President Bush holding the phone upside down, carpooling, parenting, sunscreen, football, cycling, … well, you get the point.

I’ve had some interesting interwebs conversations about the law business, including one on my blog that included this comment from Ken Adams: “As I read the closing two paragraphs of your post, the final words of The Count of Monte Cristo came to mind: ‘Wait and hope.’ Not a particularly promising sentiment when it comes to law practice!” Here are the last two paragraphs he was talking about:

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