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For BigLaw, Change is Good

At his blog Adam Smith, Esq., Bruce MacEwen reports from Georgetown Law School's symposium on the future of the global law firm, where an international assemblage of academics and law firm leaders considered global competition, ownership and capital structure, ethics and professional values, cultural dynamics and related issues. If he were to boil down the theme of the two-day conference to just one word, MacEwen says, it would be "change."

Lawyers are notoriously poor at coping with change. ... Yet change is in our futures, like it or not. More than once the observation was made that from the invention of the Cravath System around the turn of the 20th Century through about 1985, the profession looked remarkably stable, but that the last 20 years have seen revolutionary changes and the next decade promises further departures at least as radical as those we've just experienced.

If change is the theme for global firms, it is also the mantra of firms here in the United States, according to an article by Leigh Jones in today's National Law Journal. "Change is a good thing," Dechert chairman Barton J. Winokur tells Jones. In this case, the change taking place is the reshuffling under way in large law firms "as they move lawyers out of faltering practice areas into those that are less vulnerable -- or even thriving -- during the economic slump." But if change is good, it can also cause "some jitters" among the lawyers going through it, as a Thacher Proffitt & Wood partner told the NLJ.

Where is all this change leading? MacEwen writes that he has never before attended a conference at which "so many readily admitted to so few answers." But he is not concerned by that, believing that experimentation is at the core of entrepreneurship. "As I said in a prior life as CEO of a dot-com, 'mid-course corrections are my middle name.'"

See also: The Future of the Global Law Firm, Installment #2.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on April 21, 2008 at 01:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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