JordanFurlong + markets   4

Maroons & Grays: Part 3 - Adam Smith, Esq.
Absolutely wrong.

For starters, both can provide invaluable client service—it’s just “different” client service.

And we did allude earlier to the complexity of managing each type of firm.  Maroons are actually pretty simple to run; for one thing, lawyers have been doing it (it’s the Cravath Model, essentially) for over a century.  Hire great legal talent, love and compensate it generously, and turn away any work that doesn’t have boardroom visibility.

Grays, by contrast, are very challenging to manage effectively, and thus in our book far more intrinsically interesting from the perspective of strategy, finances, and leadership judgment.  Lawyers are one of management’s constituencies, but only one; the business professionals who are experts in process optimization, project management, big data analytics, pricing, and more provide an equally indispensable core competence.  Getting cognitively and intellectually diverse teams to work together and form a more powerful whole—including, critically, in client-facing roles—is far more challenging than identifying the finest lawyer/practitioners in XYZ field and letting them lawyer things.

Here’s a simplistic way of thinking about the two types of firms and the consequences for each of strong or of weak management.
strategy  markets  clients 
9 weeks ago by JordanFurlong
What the EY/Riverview Deal Means - The Bigger Picture | Artificial Lawyer
The legal market can, roughly, be divided into three areas of labour:

Primary legal labour (PLL) – lower value process work, such as document review, simple form filling, and ‘bureaucratic’ activity. (The work of paralegals and junior associates).

Secondary legal labour – more value-added work, such as putting together relatively standard contracts, overseeing some of the primary work, assembling materials for more experienced legal staff to make judgments upon. (The work of mid-level to senior associates).

Tertiary legal labour – this is the most high value work, it requires expert and experienced insight, high grade project management skills, it relies on judgment, and it is often about very close working relationships with the client, i.e. it’s very much about human skills too. (Classically the work of equity partners, though how many partners also slip into doing too much secondary labour varies from business to business. And inside a corporate this would be the work of GCs and senior inhouse counsel.)

The global economy and society as a whole needs all of this, just as we need primary, secondary and tertiary industries, from mining and agriculture, to sales, to management consulting. The bigger issue is: how should we divide up these levels of production to be the most effective and beneficial for society?

The EY/Riverview Law deal is clearly part of the primary legal labour section of this system. Traditionally, law firms have been offering a combination of all three levels of legal labour – which is one reason they are so pyramidal in structure.

If you strip out the bottom two levels you end up with what looks like a high-powered English barristers chambers, where everyone is expected to carry their own weight and you’re expected to be able to handle significant client matters very early on.

Looking at this the other way, what happens if we just cut off the bottom level and separate out the process, or primary legal labour (PLL) section? Well….then you have an LPO, an ALSP, a managed legal services arm and so on.
competition  accountants  newlaw  markets 
august 2018 by JordanFurlong
Is BigLaw One Business, or Two? | Adam Smith, Esq.
Consider the market for clients selecting a firm to represent them in a major M&A or private equity transaction, or a high-profile corporate or securities investigation.  The consideration set of law firms (“Shirts Firms”) for such engagements is limited and is anything but coterminous with the consideration set of firms for, say, cost-of-doing business litigation, ordinary-course asset acquisitions and divestitures, roadmaps for complying with new corporate housekeeping regulations, and so forth (“Skins Firms”).

I always hesitate to name names—and I anticipate plenty of “Hey, what about us?” emails—but a suggestive and non-exhaustive list of Shirts firms almost surely includes London’s Magic Circle, the New York white shoe elite, focused powerhouses such as Latham, Gibson Dunn, and Kirkland, and some first or second-generation litigation super boutiques.

Pretty much everyone else?  Skins Firms.

So what?  Aren’t I saying what we pretty much all knew, even if it makes me nervous to compile lists by name?

Actually,  I think in our “Growth Is Dead,” thoroughly post-financial-crisis world it does matter, in the sense that it has implications for leadership and management of firms, and the “Shirts” playbook is going to be unrecognizably different than the “Skins” book—that, among other things, is what it means to be in a different business.
firms  markets 
january 2018 by JordanFurlong
Choosing your law firm's optimal markets
I think many law firms historically acquired their clients first and their markets second. Somewhere early in a firm’s genesis, one of its lawyers landed a client and performed the assigned tasks well; impressed, that client hired the lawyer again and recommended the lawyer to a similar client, which also retained the lawyer, and more followed.
jf  book  markets 
april 2017 by JordanFurlong

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