Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Is legal practice fundamentally changing or not? One lawyer says "no!"

Ok, so one guy's opinion does not a consensus make.  But who knows?  Maybe he's right.  The managing partner of San Francisco's Morrison & Foerster says that he doesn't think legal practice is undergoing fundamental change rather than a temporary, albeit painful, dip in the road.

'I think it’s wrong to say things have fundamentally changed,'argues Keith Wetmore [MoFo's chair]. 'The world economy will grow again and when it does clients will need lawyers to advise on that growth. They’ll still get into pissing matches with each other and will still need lawyers to help them fight those battles.'

The publication The Lawyer went on to note that although Wetmore is incongruously optimistic during these gloomy times, it doesn't mean that he is "delusional" either.  As he told the The Lawyer:

The basic law firm model will continue largely unchanged, [although] he does acknowledge that events such as his firm’s layoffs, and those at many others that have taken place since the downturn began, highlight some of the short-term tweaks that are taking place.

'The entire law firm model is built on a number of assumptions,'argues Wetmore. 'One of which is that there will be 20 to 23 per cent attrition of associates year-in, year-out. Without that attrition, the entire system collapses. There is only so much work. If you still have 100 associates coming in each year, you can’t grow fast enough in this environment. So yes, demand has dropped but attrition is necessary and it has come to a halt.'

Let's hope Mr. Wetmore is right about the "big picture" issues.

Hat tip to the ABA Journal Blog.

I am the scholarship dude.



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