Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hilarious Video on the Billable Hour

From our UK colleagues, specifically the lawyers at Riverview Law, which is a new-breed British law firm that does things exclusively on the flat fee model.  Check it out:

Riverview's advantage may be more than its ability to produce funny videos that ricochet into the inboxes of inhouse lawyers. (I was alerted to this video via Twitter from Patrick Lamb, one of the ABA New Normal guys and a principal at Valorem Law, a Chicago-based flat-fee shop.  Pat recieved his link from a client.)

Lawyers from Riverview Law were at the Legal Tech Camp that I have discussed in prior posts (here and here).  To my mind, Riverview's greatest advantage is focus -- they want to do the same work as other corporate law firms at the same quality level or higher, but also at a signficantly lower, fixed fee price.  The firm appears to work backwards from the price to make process-design and sourcing decisions.  The result, plain and simple, is innovation. Long term, that is the only way they can make money. 

Here is how they explain just one of their services, called Legal Advisory Outsourcing -- again, in a well produced video.

If you think Riverview Law is no big deal, this may get your attention.  The flat-fee shop is partially owned by the mega law firm DLA Piper.   Earlier this year, they opend an office in New York City.

[posted by Bill Henderson]

September 22, 2012 in Current events, Data on the profession, Innovations in law, Law Firms, New and Noteworthy, Structural change, Video interviews | Permalink | Comments (8)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Drop in the Big Law Median Salary is only Half the Story

NALP just announced that the median salary for first year associates in Big Law has dropped from $160K to $145K.  I think that is very significant.  We are now back to to the entry level price point of 2007.

But to my mind, there is much bigger story here.  In 2011, firms of 500+ attorneys hired 2,856 entry level lawyers.  In 2007, that figure was 4,745.  So, after five years, Big Law is paying the same wage but hiring 40% fewer lawyers.  Compare 2007 NALP Nat'l Summary with 2011 NALP Nat'l Summary

Here is another important piece of NALP data, generated from the print versions of the July 2012 NALP Bulletin.  It shows the percentage of entry level law jobs that are private practice.

PrivatePractice

Two takeaways here: (1) there is a longterm trendline showing a declining number of private practice jobs--and that is the economic engine that enables law schools to exist at current tuition levels, and (2) the cliff-like dropoff in 2010 and 2011 is likely Big Law, and that hurts.

[posted by Bill Henderson]

September 20, 2012 in Current events, Data on legal education, Data on the profession, New and Noteworthy, Structural change | Permalink | Comments (5)

The Eds and Meds Sector

There is a fascinating story at newgeography which looks at trends in the education ("Eds") and medical ("Meds") sectors. 

Newgeography focuses on trends in urban affairs and economic geography.  Eds and Meds are of interest to this group because these two sectors have been such a critical part of maintaining or restoring many regions' economic vitality.  Why?  Universities and hospitals generally pay high wages, don't lay people off, and are perceived as long term drivers of growth because more degrees and longer life spans are two trends that will probably continue. 

But the author, Aaron Renn, presents compelling trend data suggesting that America can no longer to afford extra large helpings of Eds and Meds.  As shown in the chart below, these sectors have been growing faster than virtually all other sectors for a long, long time.

Renn-eds-meds-1

Renn points out the healthcare is on its way to consuming 20% of our GDP by the year 2021.  And the growth in the higher education sector has been substantially fueled by student loans.  Unfortunately, even college grads are subject to the pressures of outsourcing and competition with very able professionals from around the globe.  So the ability to repay all that debt can't be taken for granted.  What can't go on forever, won't.

Here is another chart presented by Renn, this one presenting the rates of inflation occuring in Eds and Meds sectors as compared to the overall CPI:

Renn-eds-meds-2
KaplanThere is an opportunity here.  I would be extremely bullish on innovations that produce productivity gains in the Eds and Meds sectors.  I recently listened to this HBR Ideocast discussion with Robert Kaplan, the Harvard Business School professor best know for developing the Balanced Scorecard.  Kaplan is now turning his considerable intellect toward the problem of cost-containment in healthcare. 

What the key insight?  Measuring how much patient treatment actually costs--to date, there has been almost no sophisticated cost accounting in healthcare.  Most of the brainpower has gone to dealing with (and maximizing) third party reimbursements.  Under Kaplan's system, fortunately, we can actually identify the points in the system that cost way too much and thus begin the reengineering process.

ChristiansenThe same thing may soon be happening in higher ed.  Another Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christiansen, who authored the renowed business book, The Innovator's Dilemma, recently co-authored a letter that called for colleges and universities to quit chasing prestige and start focusing on innovations that improve educational quality without increasing price.  Remarkably, the letter was included in a mass mailing by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni -- going to 13,000 trustees!  See Inside Higher Ed, Distruption's Strange Bedfellow, July 12, 2102.  Another Insider Higher Ed story suggests that this may be the true faultline driving the University of Virginia controversy.  See Disruptive Innovation: Rhetoric or Reality?, June 26, 2012.

The world appears to be changing, even in Eds and Meds sector.

[posted by Bill Henderson]

September 20, 2012 in Blog posts worth reading, Cross industry comparisons, Current events, Important research, New and Noteworthy, Structural change | Permalink | Comments (1)