The sky is not falling. Or if it is, it’s falling very, very slowly.
Yes, the legal industry is going through some major changes. The profession is becoming more business-focused than ever before, meaning that it’s harder out here for a partner. It’s also a tough time to graduate from a low-ranked law school if you’re not at the top of the class, as Elie Mystal has discussed at great length.
But for many law students and young lawyers, especially those with strong credentials from strong law schools, times are still good. For proof of this, consider on-campus interviewing (OCI), currently taking place at law schools around the country….
What does 2013 hold for the world of large law firms? Let’s look into our crystal ball.
Actually, scratch that. Making predictions is a tricky business. Sometimes we’re right — like when we predicted robust bonuses out of Cravath, based on their large partner class — but sometimes we’re wrong.
For now, let’s keep our powder dry, and instead check out historical data about hours, billing rates, and corporate legal spending. Can we gain any insight into the future by looking back over the past?
Biglaw needs to take a page out of the Burger King playbook and adopt a “Have It Your Way” attitude with its general counsel clients, according to a new study. In the words of the ABA Journal:
The recession has driven a power shift that now favors in-house counsel over the law firms they hire, a new report [PDF] has found.
About 75 percent of general counsel and law firm partners said the balance of power now lies with law firm clients, according to the report (PDF). A majority of both groups believe the power shift will be permanent.
We’re hearing more and more often from general counsels about the hot new trend of cutting back drastically on the number of outside firms they work with. The most dramatic example of this came from Levi Strauss, which slimmed its outside legal counsel down to size two.
The report says that 73% of GCs surveyed “admitted to either changing or reducing the number of their external legal advisers as a result of the recession.”
The 13-page report was commissioned by UK-based law firm Eversheds, but looks like it was designed by Barbie — lots of bubbles, and generous use of the color pink. It promises the death of the pyramid law firm structure and the move to “value billing.” It’s pretty, but is it substantive?
The legal industry is being disrupted at every level by technological advances. While legal tech entrepreneurs and innovators are racing to create a more efficient and productive future, there is widespread indifference on the part of attorneys toward these emerging technologies.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We at Kinney Asia have made a number of FCPA / White Collar US associate placements in Hong Kong / China thus far in 2014. Most of such placements have been commercial litigation associates from major US markets, fluent in Mandarin, switching to FCPA / White Collar litigation. Some have already had FCPA experience, but those are difficult candidates for firms to find (this will change in coming years as US firms are now promoting FCPA / White Collar to their 2L summers who are fluent in Mandarin and have an interest in transferring to China at some point).
Legal Week quoted Kinney’s Head of Asia, Evan Jowers, extensively in the following relevant article here.
There is a new trend in the market, though, where mid-level transactional US associates, fluent in spoken Mandarin and written Chinese, are interviewing for and in some cases landing junior FCPA / White Collar spots in Hong Kong / China at very top tier US firms.
When the LexisNexis Cloud Technology Survey results were reported earlier this year, it showed that attorneys were starting to peer less skeptically into the future, and slowly but surely leaning more toward all the benefits the law cloud has to offer.
Because let’s face it, plenty of attorneys are perhaps a bit too comfortable with their “system” of practice management, which may or may not include neon highlighters, sticky notes, dog-eared file folders, and a word processing program that was last updated when the term “raise the roof” was still de rigueur.