Sunday, November 30, 2014

Biglaw is Dead - Part III

Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door. This 19th Century quotation on the power of innovation is attributed to  Ralph Waldo Emerson. Modern Biglaw, however, adheres to a different ideology: "Build a better mousetrap, and we'll sue your ass for copyright infringement."

$100,000 in law school student loans?
Today's legal world has changed dramatically and irreversibly. It's an age where the average 12-year old has a greater technical capacity than the entirety of a law firm's IT department; where the average 16-year old has a more established and reputable social media presence than a law firm's marketing department (and is also doing freelance work for their advertising group). 

Since the 2008 recession, doomsday prophets have been voicing their Dewey Bingham, Hogan & Hartson, Howrey, Heller Ehrman concerns over Biglaw's reluctance to deviate from an outdated business model, namly billable hours, an argument, which, frankly, rings true to anyone not actively profiting from it. 

But let's say you're a struggling start-up and you need to retain counsel to deal with a troublesome fly situation. To handle "Project Airborne Winged Trajectory," would you choose—work quality being very nearly equal—a rolled up magazine that offers reasonable and flexible fee arrangements or a tank that charges by the hour?

The recession saw legal titans with century old empires figuratively, no wait, literally vanish from the ABA stratosphere. But as far as Biglaw was concerned, it don't make no nevermind and they pointedly, arrogantly, stayed the course. 

But if you're feeling untouchable, cocky, or maybe even just comfortable in your current Biglaw profession, take a quick peak at this list of now obsolete occupations, and remember the words of David L. Calhoun who warned: "You need to be absolutely paranoid about the currency of your knowledge." 

Or at least Aaron Sorkin:

Aaron Sorkin: Listen, lady—a gender I write extremely well if the story calls for it—this is serious. We make horse buggies. The first Model T just rolled into town.

Liz Lemon: We're dinosaurs.

Aaron Sorkin: We don't need two metaphors. That's bad writing. Not that it matters.


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