Monday, August 18, 2008

The more things change, the more they stay the same

Seen quotes like this lately?

The lawyers of America have laid their heads together and drawn up a lot of proposed reforms--for other people. The unpleasant truth is that the American public feel that no class needs reforming more than lawyers, particularly many of the shining lights of the profession. The man in the street is disgusted with both the lawyers and the courts.
Looks familiar, no? It comes from the September 15 issue of Forbes -- in 1923, that is. I guess complaining about lawyers is timeless.

Some of the biggest complaints come from major corporations, who pay huge bills to BigLaw to support seven-figure partner draws and $165k starting salaries. And yes, they pay to train the young-uns as a rule.

The Association of Corporate Counsel claims it has a solution (via Portfolio) that it will roll out next month, which appears to have much to do with sharing billable rates at law firms used as outside counsel.

And other smart people (in this case, Larry Bodine) are reporting the skill sets are what GCs are looking for, and they don't necessarily mean being the best or the most prestigious. Rather, transparent billing and responsiveness are important. Looking at the story, if I do say so myself the only criterion I don't meet is diversity, because I am who I am. Of course, I like to think a Polish-Czech USC grad combined with an Italian Notre Dame alumnus is pretty darn diverse.

I'm doing fixed-fee deals now. I think they can be fair, and it is nice not to have to fill out time sheets. But then so are my hourly rates compared to, oh, a second year BigLaw associate. If corporations really want to save money, and still get first-rate work, they'd be well advised to find themselves some good small firms to hire.

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