The New York Times has a very informative and insightful article on the apparently impending collapse of Dewey and LeBoeuf.
It’s all summed up in this quote on the change in the big firm legal world:
“There’s a dawning recognition that many partners don’t add much value other than their legal work,” [Thomas S. Clay, a principal at Altman Weil law firm consultants] said. “Many are being asked to leave, or to accept a nonequity, salaried partner status.”
So, try this one for size: There’s a dawning recognition that many doctors don’t add much value other than their medical work. Or: There’s a dawning recognition that many actors don’t add much value other than their acting.” Or: There’s a dawning recognition that many faculty don’t add much value other than their teaching and research.”
So why on earth join a firm, if you are going at best to be a cog unless you are going to be something other than a lawyer. Go be a banker. Or much better yet, use your legal skills on something legal and worthwhile.
Long before Rupert Murdoch, Lord Thomson, who bought the London Times and transformed British Journalism, was quoted for the proposition that news was the stuff that went between the advertisements. (He also described a TV license as a license to print money.) This fits in the same world-view.
There are certainly many sincere and dedicated lawyers at the big firms, doing their bit for pro bono and access to justice, but these changes really make one question how much longer the public interest justification for large firm practice can continue, regardless of currently-rejected possible changes in ownership rules — (note that’s a link to Thompson-Reuters). What a tragedy that would be.