Apr 26

Making the Case for Small Law

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I used to work at large, national law firms (often referred to as Biglaw). My clients were often Fortune 500 companies. When I worked on legal matters for these clients, the case teams generally consisted of one senior partner, sometimes one junior partner, and one to two associates. Sometimes the teams were made up of one partner and one associate. Case teams were insular; rarely, if ever, did we consult firm attorneys who were not on the case team.  Even at a size of two to four attorneys, often the case teams were overstaffed, i.e. the partner or associate could have handled all of the work on his/her own.

Let me be clear: there were no all-hands firm meetings about case strategy a la The Good Wife or L.A. Law.

When you hire an attorney at Biglaw, you may technically hire the firm, but, in reality, you hire the attorney. Biglaw attorneys charge more because they rent class A office space, have lots of staff, and because they can. Not because they are necessarily better attorneys. And not because your case will have the attention of the whole firm (or even a substantial portion of it).

Make no mistake. Your case team will be the only attorneys paying attention to your case.

And that is fine. In fact, it’s ideal. It does not take an army of attorneys to manage a case, even a large one.

Yes, there is the issue of document review and production. But most firms, small and large, contract with temporary attorneys to complete document review and production. The few members of your case team manage the review.

In other words, there is no magic to hiring Biglaw. The only true difference between Biglaw and small law is the price.

You could have hired me for almost $700 a year ago. Now that I am practicing in my own small law firm, I can charge much less. And I will guarantee you that my entire firm will be paying attention to your case.