How Would a Lawfirm 2.0 Strategy be Different?

The most important distinction to the implementation of a Lawfirm 2.0 strategy must be the elimination of the “ownership imperative”, inherent in the partnership structure. The law firm should be a safety net for attorneys to practice law. It should not place the requirement of business ownership on attorneys beyond the ownership each attorney accepts through the client relationship. The “product” offered by a partnership is in reality the individual attorney. This is where the true ownership is and will always be. Failure of some partnerships to recognize this truth is a source of conflict and ultimately leads to associate and partner dissatisfaction. It is the attorney’s knowledge, passion, communication and time being sold. While it is true that the sum is sometimes greater than its individual parts, I would argue this benefit is not realized without first recognizing the individuals. There is only so much time in a human life that can be sold. Therefore, it is by definition precious and should not be wasted. For example, too often good attorneys are forced to choose between family and the firm. Those who chose family often are marginalized or left to hang a shingle with no safety net or settle for whatever they can negotiate with the law firm. This is just bad business and wastes the “product”. This is because the partnership values the firm’s bottom line over the bottom line of the individual attorney, where I believe it should be. Lawfirm 2.0 means that your legal services organization is built to be proactive and recognizes that attorneys are the product and must be accommodated as a standard course of business, not as a negotiated exception. The conservation of resources is just good business.

There is no reason for the business of law to demand “control” from attorneys. It should empower them to exercise control without being forced out of the safety net. Attorneys are accountable through the license system. The economic realities of practicing law are hard enough without heaping on unnecessary controls. The structure of a Lawfirm 2.0 should be a safety net. Not a straight jacket as happens with many partnerships.

Ethical and economic realities must be reckoned with but I believe the benefits of doing so outweigh the labor involved.