The Musings of Gary M. Zeiss

Shark Soup

Posted on: March 16, 2009

The End of the Large Law Firm

I think we’re seeing the beginning (or the middle) of the end of the large law firm now that we’re seeing the legal market implode. Why do I say this?

Firms are like pyramids, with a few pointy-heads at the top being supported by a greater and greater number of pointy-head wannabes below them. However, in recent months, firms have carved big holes in their support structures – all in the name of keeping the pointy heads at the very pinnacle.

Now that these organizations have finished decimating their middle ranks, they’ve cut their intake of new blood. The bottom, too, is going to be gone. Next, the firms are hatcheting off the almost-pointy-heads at the partnership level. Pretty soon, the firm of Gross, Grand and Huge will be down to two attoreys, Gross and Grand – and when Gross doesn’t pull in enough to keep them at the AmLaw pinnacle, Gross will be gone, too.

Any study of the social effects of a bubble economy shouldn’t hesitate to focus on the legal market – where we have now seen a complete breakdown in the social compact that once kept this rather patrician profession together. It’s true – when the sharks run out of fish, they eat each other… yum.

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1 Response to "Shark Soup"

I was just speaking to a friend in DC that was explaining the same thing to me. The firm he’s been clawing his way to the middle of for the last 7 years, just cut him and everyone below him off in the name of a crappy economy. He saw it coming, since they’d let pretty much everyone else at his level go, so he’s been looking around, and there just aren’t any firms hiring in the DC, Baltimore area anymore.

He said it’s a sign of the times, and like advertising, a lot of companies are going in-house rather than hiring outside firms to keep costs down.

He’s seriously thinking of going back to school to learn Chinese and going into law over there.

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  • Mike: I was just speaking to a friend in DC that was explaining the same thing to me. The firm he's been clawing his way to the middle of for the last 7 ye

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