Biglaw, Boutique Law Firms, Hotties, Small Law Firms

Size Matters: Take Your Shirt Off To Succeed

It has been a proud time for us Illinoisans. Yes, one of our congressmen is the hottest and fittest of them all. As I was “reading” the Men’s Health cover story (i.e., drooling over the shirtless photos of Aaron Schock), I realized that times are changing. Gone are the stodgy and round politicians. The future is lean, mean and pre-teen.

According to Law Firms: A Less Gilded Future — the Economist article discussed in nearly every law-related tweet last week, and mentioned twice (here and here) in these pages — Aaron Schock is the model for law firms as well….

Here’s what The Economist has to say:

Ultimately, lawyering is becoming more of a business than a profession. Some lawyers decry this. Others welcome it. Few deny it. Because the American market cannot grow as it used to, firms will have to find new strategies and make use of sophisticated branding to stand out.

How are firms supposed to stand out? Here are two suggestions for how law firms can adopt the Aaron Schock model.

First, some firms should focus their practice on one area or a few areas of law:

Another bunch [of firms that are] likely to do well are tightly focused firms that concentrate on only a few fields. Some (“monolines”) specialize in only one. They typically do not try to span the globe, but their work is so good that clients will keep paying handsomely for it.

Second, going forward, firms will need to “keep [clients’] bills down”:

Feeling that they had overpaid vastly for the work of green trainees, they began refusing to have routine work billed to first- and second-year associates (ie, lawyers who are not yet partners). They see no reason to stand for it again. And alternative fee arrangements continue to grow in importance, albeit slowly: they accounted for 16% of big firms’ revenue in 2010.

Schock and awe.

The article says in no uncertain terms that the traditional business model for law firms (particularly Biglaw) must change. While the article does not mention small firms, the information is clearly applicable to small firms looking to prosper in this economy. Indeed, some Biglaw firms are too big and fat to adopt these lessons. Who is better able to specialize and offer competitive rates than small firms?

Are you a small law firm adopting the Aaron Schock model? Are you a small-firm lawyer with rippling abs? Either way, email me, and we can come up with a feature on your lean-mean law firm (or compile a Small-Firm Hotties calendar).

When not writing about small law firms for Above the Law, Valerie Katz (not her real name) works at a small firm in Chicago. You can reach her by email at and follow her on Twitter at @ValerieLKatz.

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