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Tired of practicing law? Look what Orrick, DLA Piper are doing

"Should law firms ever be in businesses other than practicing law?  And does the answer to that turn on legal ethics, or on microeconomics, or both?" asks Bruce MacEwen. "The question is no longer academic ..."

MacEwen goes on to examine the latest business services diversification trend at firms such as Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and DLA Piper. Here's a teaser:

"Ralph Baxter, Orrick's chairman, says the firm has made huge savings by shifting the functions to one central location. But he wants to go further, and is convinced the firm can 'commercialize its back office,' offering its operations center as an outsourcing service for other law firms, handling administration, IT and even basic legal research for them."

"Have we now gone a bridge too far?   From the ethical perspective, I don't see any transgression in what Orrick is offering other firms -- subject to all the usual safeguards and checks against conflicts, breaching confidentiality, maintaining Chinese walls, etc. But I would defer on this point to others more steeped in ethical nuance.

"On the microeconomic front, however, I will weigh in.  The strongest argument against what Orrick proposes is that none of those back office functions is a "core competence" of a law firm, so what business do they think they have diving even deeper into that particular pool?" More here.

Posted by Laurel Newby on July 29, 2005 at 12:58 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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