Dan and Jane return after a very long hiatus.  Inspired by Marlene’s terrific post and the impassioned discussion that it began amongst friends.

Jane: Dan!  I haven’t seen you forever.  How have you been?!

Dan: I’m sorry.  Do I know you?

Jane: It’s me, Jane.  We used to do 3 Geeks Point/Counter-point posts a couple of years ago?  You were the blowhard gasbag that was wrong about absolutely everything!

Dan: Oh! And you were the ignorant fool who incessantly contradicted me!  Yes, I remember now.  How have you been?

Jane: I’m well, I’m well.  Got promoted since we last talked.

Dan: Well, that makes sense, you do work in a law firm, right?

(Both laugh knowingly.)

Jane: I’m now the Chief Director of Innovative Solutions and Catering.  You know how things are, the firm is consolidating roles. I think I’ve got a new card in here somewhere.  Let me see…

Dan:  Oh, don’t bother. I don’t use business cards. I’ll look you up on LinkedIn.

Jane: No, no, no. It doesn’t work that way! This is a time honored tradition.  I give you a card. You give me a card. A bond is formed and we are connected.

Dan: That’s stupid. Then what do you do with all of the cards you collect?

Jane: I send LinkedIn invites to each of the people I meet and then throw away the card.

Dan: I thought you were one of those eco-terrorists, hell bent on saving the planet one tree at a time.

Jane: My cards are made of sustainable bamboo pulp, thank you very much!

Dan: I bet that costs a fortune.

Jane: It’s not cheap, but some things are worth paying more for.

Dan: At my suggestion, we did away with business cards entirely last year.  No one gets them.  We save about $800 per person per year.

Jane: But what does your firm lose in the process?

Dan: A lot of cards in the landfill?

Jane: No, you moron, in terms of good will and business relationships?

Dan: Uh…nothing?

Jane: Look, when I give you a card, I am symbolically giving you something of myself. I am quite literally trusting you with my personal identification. I am saying this is who I am and I want to share it with you. And then, you reciprocate. That creates a bond, a momentary relationship that cannot be ignored, whereas a LinkedIn invite actually has an ignore button.

Dan:  It does? Why would they do that?  The point of LinkedIn is to have as many contacts as possible. I am currently in second place in my group.

Jane: You are why they have an ignore button.

Dan: So if I take your stupid card and send you a LinkedIn invite, will you accept?

Jane: Are you asking because you want to cement our bond?

Dan: No, I’m just three contacts behind the guy in first place.

Jane: Then no.

Being chastised for using the apparently un-Texan term “nincompoop” I have switched to the more general “Ninnies” in an attempt to keep this dialog above board. So now we can dive into my attack of Susan’s response, to Ryan’s ramblings on Susan’s reply to Jordan’s retort to my critique of Jordan’s original gauntlet-tossing scribe.

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.

from Susan Hackett‘s comment on yesterday’s post.

Image [CC] – Matthias Weinberger

I was chatting yesterday with a great guy who’s been in-house as a GC for most of his professional life, and has recently affiliated with a law firm. He loves this firm and he loves the people he works with, but his one frustration is the slow pace of decision-making/change due to the business model for operations in the firm – even in a firm that is as progressive as the one he’s joined up with. Moving anything through a large firm partnership today is glacial, it’s inefficient, and the process is overwhelmed by the partnership’s inability to nimbly execute (think: turning an oil tanker in a bathtub).

So my point is that even if the best partners in the greatest firms have embraced super-valuable ideas to pursue transformative business strategy, their partnership model will continue to throw up operational barriers to their ability to implement change.

As Jordan notes, in larger firms, the partnership model doesn’t motivate behaviors as it might have been envisioned to do in a smaller firm environment. Instead, it creates a super-class of owners whose sole common ground is the maintenance of the status quo and rewarding short term financial returns. They hold the power to make decisions for the whole, but they don’t operate in the interests of the whole – whether the whole is defined as the entity’s current sustainability and future prospects or the long-term development and interests of the majority of firm workers.

I don’t know if this is a result of the law firm partnership business model run amok in larger firms, or just (as my Grandma used to say) “Plain Ol’ Greed” too long rewarded. But the fact is that partnership models in large firms punish and frustrate the efforts of strong leaders to execute better business decisions for the firm’s long-term health. And that includes better decisions about hiring, training, cultivating rising talent, and compensation: all based on value to the firm and to clients, and connecting performance to business goals.

Large firm partnership models allow for “super minority” packs of powerful, self-interested owners to hold captive the larger interests of firm and its future constituents. I live and work in the Washington, DC area – there’s an excellent example of such irrational dysfunction under a dome just a hop and a skip down the road from my office.

In the grand tradition of bad prison movie “wisdom”, I’m walking confidently into the yard and picking a fight with the biggest meanest gang I see, in this case, Toby, Jordan, and Susan.

With all due respect, you are all missing the point.  The problem is not what you call non-partners, or how you recruit them, or train them, or whether they exist at all.  The problem is the partnership itself.

I attended a conference last year in which a panel was discussing how they would design a firm if they were starting from scratch today.  Over an hour into the conversation someone asked, “What about a Limited Liability Partnership of owners?”  Two of the three panelists were partners in their firms, but when everyone was done laughing, they all agreed that partnership is a terrible business model and no one would build a firm that way today if given the choice.

Look at the new Alternative Business Structures in the UK and Australia, that allow firms to pursue outside investors and allow non-attorneys to be owners.  Admittedly, I haven’t been following too closely, but I haven’t heard of any investors clamoring to stick their money in traditional LLP law firms. If you look at new firms, and non-firms providing legal services, that are nipping at the heels of BigLaw, how many of them have a partnership structure? Why would they? How much time does Axiom spend trying to figure out what to call their non-partner-track attorneys?

Maybe the reason we are struggling to define non-partners, is because Partnership itself is limiting way beyond just liability.

OK. I’m ready to take my beating now…

Jordan and I will need to add Susan Hackett to our traveling road show as she has now entered the fray. Below Susan responds to Jordan’s critique of my critique of his original post. (Just writing that makes me kind of dizzy).

See if you can follow the bouncing ball in this interesting debate.

Thanks to Susan for adding to the conversation.

I’m with you both on many of the points raised, but have to say I’m most interested in two elements here that Jordan addresses near the end of his post and that he’s promised to cover at Law21: 

1.) the issue of training (or should I say “lack of training”) in most firms because partners are so busy performing as much work as they can themselves (and sometimes hoarding hours and clients that should be served by others who are more junior) that they take no time to invest in the next generations of lawyers who will succeed them in the firm at EVERY level. 


2.) the issue of the pipeline of legal talent – on which both firms and clients rely, which is only going to become a more acute concern as the boomers continue to move slowly toward retirement. There will be far fewer lawyers with significant experience and carefully cultivated training in the pipeline behind each successive class for the future if things don’t change soon. 

As a result, I think we have to give Greenberg Traurig (GT) more credit than Jordan suggests is due. At least they’re actually training new lawyers in a systematic way (regardless of whether they’re creating the future class of partners or not). Most firms are moving their mouths to claim that they’re raising their associates and future partners up and helping them prepare for the challenges of sophisticated practice, but they aren’t. And thus, the promise or offer made to those new lawyers who invest their lives in firms, as well as the promise or offer made to clients that the firm has a well-prepared bench who are properly prepared to handle their work appropriately, isn’t worth the paper their marketing brochures are written on. 

I’ll offer up my regular harping on behalf of the client perspective in all this, and remind folks that many clients are watching closely what firms are and aren’t doing to respond to change: not just open their minds to new thinking, but act to implement new ways of working. While the new class of employed lawyers that GT is raising up here are presumed by Jordan and perhaps others to be a non-starter in terms of value (suggesting it would be better/faster/cheaper to outsource than to build your own more expensive bench of employed talent), what GT is essentially creating here is a team of in-house counsel… clients carrying the same designation of employed lawyers working in their company’s businesses may be a little surprised to hear the presumption here that employed lawyers are likely to lack the ability to deliver value as well as outsourced teams. 

If anybody is likely to recognize and wish to discuss how to leverage a team of carefully trained and supervised law firm in-house lawyers, perhaps it’s the in-house counsel who work in the clients firms like GT serve. Maybe GT isn’t thinking like a law firm here; maybe GT is thinking like a client. In assessing their program, take a minute to look at it through the lens of the client’s business model, rather than the mis-aligned lens that law firms often use to assess what’s of value to them (while not focusing on what’s of value to their clients).

I’m not ready to jump to the conclusion that clients won’t value this new class of GT lawyers. They may not be motivated or trained to become the next generation of partners as we’ve known them in big firms, but that may not be such a bad thing. Why would anyone want to build their future firm based on the motivations and training that has left many firms with a teetering foundation in today’s competitive market? Maybe GT is building something that they will profit handsomely from because it provides what clients want to buy rather than what old-line firm partners want to sell. 

Let’s remember who are the responsible parties for in-elastically driving up rates over the last several decades to the level that there is no longer any correlation between cost and value for clients of larger firms: it wasn’t the servicing or employed lawyers (who clients LOVE!); it was untrained baby lawyers (who cost too much because firms hired 50 of them every year with the assumption that attrition would weed out 45 of them before they returned the firm’s and clients’ investment by becoming partners) and partners seeking ever-higher PPP.

Perhaps we should give GT credit for trying something new (more than most of its peers have done), and for exerting significant effort to train those in the firm serving clients with more efficiently valued services. I’m going to wait to see how that new class of lawyers’ services are actually packaged and priced (you reading me on this one, Toby? 🙂 before I assume that the cost and value of those carefully trained lawyers is not as good for clients as the cost and value of lawyers in comparable non-law-firm service providers (or the cost and value of those associates who are largely not being developed in firms without programs like this).

Maybe GT will fail. Goodness knows, there are things I would have done differently if I was running the project. 

But I’m not. And Huzzah! to GT for trying something new. There are a lot of smart people working there, and there’s a reason they have a hugely successful law firm and I don’t. So I’m in favor of giving them the benefit of the doubt and I’d encourage those of us who are interested in pushing forward firms to try new ideas to step back from our natural tendency to be hyper-critical about the perceived flaws in the idea to give the firm room to see if what’s good in this project can move law firm training and client service options deploying new lawyers forward in the current desert of options for many new lawyers.

Image [cc] Shane Trueblood

Jordan Furlong and I need to take our show on the road. In our usual “Dan & Jane” fashion, we inadvertently tackled another topic. My original post threw down the gauntlet and Jordan, in his always well-stated fashion, answered the call. Below is his response – with a promise of more to come.

Thanks Jordan!

Update 11-4-13: Jordan provides a more complete response on his blog here.

Toby, you ignorant — oh, wait, we already did that.

As usual, we agree on a couple of points. One is that law firm associates should not universally and presumptively be considered future partners. But we should also be clear about one thing: that very presumption has long been part and parcel of the underlying (and mostly unstated) promise law firms make when they offer lawyers the position of associate. 

Fundamentally, “associate” status represents full-time law firm employment in a salaried capacity. But there’s always been something more: it’s also a Golden Ticket for possible admission to law firm partnership. The beauty of this system, from the law firm’s perspective, has long been that “associate” status carries the potential of ascendance to a higher level, with no guarantee that such ascendance will ever happen. It deliberately confuses possibility with likelihood. Will every associate be a partner someday? Of course not. But could any associate be a partner someday? Yes. That’s the promise, the lure, the ticket — that’s what gives the title “associate” an extra shine. 

That’s one of the reasons Greenberg’s shift is noteworthy: by taking away the word “associate” from most non-partner lawyers (if that is in fact the outcome), the firm is essentially tearing up the Golden Ticket. It is making clear: you will never be a partner at this firm. Insofar as that makes explicit the implicit truth that we all know — that many are called to partnership, but few are chosen — that’s actually a good thing.

Our second point of agreement is that law firms should indeed be hiring talented lawyers to be valued, potentially long-term, non-owning employees. Where we might disagree is over what we mean by “hiring.” 

A major problem in law firms, as you suggest, is that firms are hiring and paying these lawyers to work stupidly. Well over 90% of the value firms compensate in their partners lies in developing business and billing hours. For lawyers who aren’t partners and don’t aspire to be, that eliminates the first category and leaves 100% of their value in producing billable hours. 

As I said in my post: if all you want out of a lawyer is the permanent ongoing production of work that can be billed to a client, that’s fine. But why would you hire someone as a full-time employee to do that? From the point of view of client value, which is what we’re discussing now, that work can be sourced from a temp lawyer, an LPO, an expert system, or elsewhere — and none of these sources are nearly as expensive to the client (or as traditionally profitable to the law firm) as a full-time associate.

So that’s our common ground, and as usual, it’s pretty sizeable. 🙂 Because this comment is so long, though, I need to make the rest of it a separate entry.

 I think our fundamental disagreement may be whether there’s really much purpose anymore in having associate lawyers in a law firm who aren’t destined for ownership. I don’t think there is, whereas I think you may. 

“Many associates ‘just want to practice law’ and not be under pressure to become an owner,” is how you describe it — and I’m sure that’s true. I’m happy for any associates if that’s what they want. I’d like a pony, too, but nobody’s going to give me one anytime soon. If someone is a lawyer in a law firm and doesn’t want to be a partner (and the firm agrees), then that person is simply an employee — indistinguishable from secretaries, law clerks and IT people. But being an employee in the 21st century is a position with little stability and almost no leverage. Employees can expect to be paid relatively poorly and to be considered largely fungible. And that’s exactly where many “law firm associates” who don’t want to be partners are headed, in a hurry.

If it were up to me, the title of “associate” would be reserved for a lawyer in a law firm who is universally expected to become an owner at a specified point in the future. I like the word “associate” — it has history, power, and gravitas. Law firms have cheapened it, however, over the past few decades by giving the title to people with no desire or expectation of partnership. An “associate” ought to mean “future firm leader.” If a lawyer does not want that designation and the responsibilities it carries, he or she should not expect the rewards and security that come with it.

Law firms still need lawyers (and others) to produce work that delivers client value and can be billed accordingly. I don’t see this ever changing. What will change is where these lawyers (and others) are located, how they work, what they’re paid, what benefits they receive, how much job security they have, and so forth — these will all be different, and often less attractive, for most of these lawyers than in the past. Full-time salaried positions in law firms will be scarce and will be reserved for lawyers who are or will soon become core members of the firm.

In that regard, I actually think Greenberg’s approach is sound — if that’s where they’re headed. The problem, and it’s a major one, is that it provides law firms with an excuse to stop providing “training” to all their new lawyers. One of the major benefits of the traditional system was that every law firm associate, even the ones who clearly were short-term entities, received in-firm experience, exposure and training for as long as they were there. That training may not have been all that great, in most cases, but it was assuredly better than nothing. And “nothing” is what thousands of new lawyers are potentially poised to get under a system like the one described above. 

If and as we move towards a system of fewer law firm associates, a massive training/experience shortfall is going to manifest itself for the legal profession, and this will cause problems for all these law firms sooner or later. That’s the topic I hope to tackle next at Law21.

Dan and Emily
Image [cc] Sharyn Morrow

Jane: Dan, I’ve been going over some of the statistics from the Simkovic/McIntyre study, and have to say that most law students will be far better off by attending law school than they would by not obtaining the degree.

Dan: Jane, I see you’ve been playing music with your old college band, The Intelligentsia, and found that bag of weed your old boyfriend stashed in his guitar. A student would You’d be better off heading to Las Vegas and putting the $150K on Black. Wait a minute, isn’t your old boyfriend a Law School Professor now?

Jane: Well… yes, but he doesn’t play guitar any longer.

Dan: Jane, maybe he should take it back up, as it looks like his day job might be on shaky ground. However, it is nice of you to attempt to help him maintain his cushy lifestyle at the expense of some kid paying off student loans for the next 35 years.

Jane: Dan, as usual, you do not see past the bottom of your vodka tonic glass you have stashed under your desk. An advanced education opens up many opportunities for graduates that simply are not there for those without the advanced degree. The study shows that most students will be hundreds of thousands of dollars ahead over the lifespan of their careers. A little investment now will pay off over time.

Dan: Jane, I actually agree with you…

Jane: gasp…

Dan: Slow your roll there babe, I agree with you – to a point. And that point is when the advanced degree is a law degree. We pump out far too many lawyers as it is. The fact that we have 200 law schools in this country, most of them a far cry from the top tier schools, shows that we are throwing far too many students at a career that is shrinking every year. If they want an advanced degree, pick something useful like Computer Science or Engineering. The only thing that would help the legal profession would be if a third of law schools shut their doors today.

Jane: Dan, the study shows that law school graduates get a salary bump, on average, of $32,000 – $53,000 a year. Statistics alone would encourage a student with a History degree to think seriously about obtaining a law degree.

Dan: Okay Jane. Let me ask you this: Would you encourage your nephew to go to law school?

Jane: Yes.

Dan: Okay. In your typical, “nothing could every possibly go wrong mentality”, would you encourage him to do so on student loans?

Jane: Under the right circumstances, yes.

Dan: My guess is that the right cirumstances equates to “he qualified for any student loans.” Would you be so quick if you knew that he probably wouldn’t get into a top tier school, and he wouldn’t graduate in the top 10% of his class?

Jane: Well, I would encourage him to work hard and study to get in that top 10%.

Dan: Jane, you’re pretty big on statistics when it comes to the study, but you seem to be pretty ignorant of math when it comes to the reality that most students will rack up the same, or more, debt as those that finish in the top 10% of top tier schools. Add to that, the fact that most kids like your nephew would end up graduating from third and fourth tier schools, and would be lucky to land a job requiring a law degree and bar passage. More likely, your nephew would land on your doorstep looking for a place to live because your Sister told him to go live with the stupid Aunt that talked him into going to law school.

Jane: Dan, my nephew is smart, capable, and he will make it.

Dan: Well, he better hope so. Your career as a journalist probably won’t last until he graduates law school. Better hope that your next job at Amazon or with the Red Sox comes with some benefits.

Image [cc] sinisterbluebox

Dan: One of our partner’s sons took the bar exam recently. Reminded me of my turn at that challenge. Jane, it also reminded me to shove in your face that I scored the highest on the bar exam that year. How well did you score?

Jane: As I recall the bar exam is a pass / fail exam. Not one where you get grades. Who cares what your score was?

Dan: Hah! Just as I assumed. You were one of the lesser-thans with an average score. See. This is why I always win our debates.

Jane: Dan – there you go again, bragging about yet another of your traits that actually has little use in the real world. What exactly did you get for being #1?

Dan: I was featured in the bar journal. Whereas I am sure you are more prominently featured on bathroom walls.

Jane: Dan – you ignoramus. If you are that smart, why did you spend so much time preparing for a pass/fail exam? That’s like spending loads of extra time winning a case, that really doesn’t need that much effort. Wait a minute! Now it all makes sense.

Dan: What makes sense? That I am smarter and richer than you? Oh … and better looking?

Jane: That your need to overcome other obvious shortcomings means you are compelled to win. I bet you brag about how many billable hours you have each year too.

Dan: 2800 last year. Highest in my practice group.

Jane: Wouldn’t it make more sense to brag about getting things done faster and more efficiently and therefore more profitably than everyone else? I think the person who scored the lowest passing score on the bar exam should be the one we celebrate. They were smart enough to expend just the right amount of resources to get the job done.

Dan: Oh you mean like a “Participation Award?” I’m sure you have a room at your parents’ house full of those. Jane – you are the kind of person who gets a warm, fuzzy feeling about being good enough.

Jane: And you are the kind of person that needs to see a proctologist for a dental exam.

Image [cc] MyLifeStory

Dan: My Law Firm Right-Sizing idea received so much positive feedback, it encouraged me to think even deeper on the subject.

Jane: “Deeper” as in all the way to the bottom of the kiddie pool?

Dan: “Kiddie Pool” as in where your limited thinking keeps you Jane? So here’s my next great idea for law firms. We all want to cut costs so we can make more money. So why stop at non-lawyer staff?

Jane: “We” must mean the Gang of Benevolent Partners.So this is already shaping up to be another top idea from Dan The Great Thinker.

Dan: Now we’re paddling in the same boat! So here’s the thing. All the reports show firms have more lawyers than they need – something in the neighborhood of 10%. So firms should “let go” of 20% of the lawyers. Wallah! More profits!

Jane: So top level thinking and the use of New Math all at the same time, eh? If your firm is 10% overstaffed in the lawyer ranks, why would you fire 20%? Is this another “hire back what you need scheme?”

Dan: Jane – Your limited brain is showing … again. No, we wont be hiring them back. That’s the beauty of the whole idea. In the Good Ole Days, we thought 1900 hours of billable time was good. In my new plan, 2500 hours is going to be even better. I’ve been reading up on this profitability thing. Basically all the hours above 1900 are gravy. So why would we stop there? We want to be “above average” as a firm. Not some run-of-the-mill shop.

Jane: Ahh – yes, your brilliance is yet again emerging from the clouded haze of your bodily gasses.

Dan: Again – we’re in the same boat. It’s so wonderful to watch when you finally “get it” and embrace my New Normal Thinking.

Jane: Your New Normal, is like actually more like 19th Century Sweat Shop Normal. Let’s do some more math and see if you can keep up. To bill 2500 hours, an associate will need to work 3000 hours at a minimum. To work that much, each lawyer will need to work 11.5 hour days and not take any vacations or holidays off. Or in a slightly better sounding version, they could work 8 hours a day, seven days a week, every week.

Dan: Again … same boat. This is working out well. “Our” new firm is going to be the profit envy of BigLaw. I say “our” firm since you are starting to sound like partner material Jane.

Jane: By “partner material” you must mean someone willing to employ abusive labor practices in order to get rich.

Dan: Wow. It’s like we’re sharing the same brain Jane. I’m drafting your partner acceptance letter as soon as we’re done with this stimulating conversation.

Jane: The only stimulation you need is electroshock therapy Dan. With any luck that will loosen your bowels and take some of the pressure of your brain. Sometimes I wonder how you actually make it through the day without accidentally shooting yourself.

Dan: Now we’re back to normal – typical ignorant hussy talk. Your feeble attempt to change the subject to gun control, just killed your partnership opportunity.

Jane: Point well made.

Image [cc] juhansonin

Dan: Recent reports of BigLaw staff firings got me thinking.

Jane: I hope you weren’t driving at the time.

Dan: Anyways … I came up with a brilliant idea for how law firms can reduce their cost structures. Everyone is always bitching (your specialty Jane) about how the cost structure of large firms is out of whack.

Jane: “Out of whack.” Is that a technical term?

Dan: Shut up you ignorant trollop. Back to my brilliant epiphany: Large law firms should randomly fire one-third of their administrative staff. Bingo – major cost savings.

Jane: Let me make sure I have this right. You actually were thinking, and this idea just came to you? Are you serious. Do you think most law firm administrative staff just sit around chatting? They were all hired for a reason.

Dan: Stifle your trap long enough to hear me out. I know some of these people might perform valuable functions, but it’s difficult-to-impossible to know which ones. The random firings will quickly determine which non-lawyers were valuable and which … weren’t. Firms can always hire back the ones they really need, since most of them will have a hard time finding jobs in this legal market. Problem solved!

Jane: That is wrong on so many levels. As usual, I struggle where to start in describing your idiocy. Let’s start with the practical and where the money is. If you fire the Billing people, no bills will go out and money will stop coming in. If you fire the Benefits people, your health insurance will be canceled since the bills won’t be paid. Shall I go on?

Dan: OK – the plan may have a few glitches. We’ll make sure to keep those two people. Or … wait for it … we’ll outsource their functions. Everyone knows outsourcing saves money.

Jane: It’s ironic how luddites like you fear the commoditization of law, but then jump whole-hog (pun intended you bloated bag of gas) into the commoditization of everything else about law firms. Apparently everyone, except lawyers, are fungible. Your arrogance blinds you to the fact that there are other professionals with valuable skills. As usual, you probably assume lawyers will be better at everything, so they can take over tasks when the admin staff is gone. I suppose your clients will be happy paying an associate to update your web site?

Dan: Trust me, there will be a significant number that won’t be missed, probably in IT and Marketing. So when the dust settles, the cost structure will be “fixed.”

Jane:  The real solution would be getting you “fixed.” Tell me you haven’t procreated.