With all due respect to my colleagues, this is not a business model problem. The model doesn't matter. What this is is a Management (and leadership) Problem. Law firm owners seem to think they should have a say in every management and operational decision. No matter the business model, a successful company will not give every owner business decision authority. Susan's reference to the recently converted GC goes to the core of this. His frustrations center on the inability of even a progressive firm to make a decision.
I have a saying that if you asked a law firm to take a poop (I had to work that word back in), they would form a committee of owners and spend 12 months developing and issuing a report that says pooping is a good idea and the firm should support any owners who make poop requests. The committee wouldn't actually approve a specific bowel movement request, but would instead suggest a method for how any request to make a 'movement' might be approved.
In a slight admission of some validity to the bitch about the partnership business model, it may be conducive to poor management decision making. However, I have seen firms using LLC or professional corporation models with all of the exact same problems. The only difference is they call owners shareholders instead of partners.
So I guess the five of us are basically arguing about the precise way in which law firms are screwed. This started as a discussion about associates' expectations about becoming owners. Built in to those unrealistic expectations is that once they become owners, they will also be able to slow down the decision making process for a firm.
Of course we should expect individual business owners to want to maximize their own personal returns, but any business that lets those agendas drive overall decisions, or worse, stop decisions from being made, is nuts.
The bottom-line here is that I am right.
PS: I vote Jordan buys.