Wednesday, August 28, 2019
Abraham J. B. Cable (UC-Hastings), When Does Big Law Work?, 102 Marq. L. Rev. 875 (2019):
Law firms have grown from hundreds of lawyers to thousands of lawyers, and the conventional wisdom is that this trend fuels dissatisfaction among lawyers. This Article scrutinizes that conventional wisdom based on interviews with lawyers who joined large firms through law-firm mergers. These lawyers offer a valuable perspective on firm size because they made abrupt changes from small to large firms. Though some interviewees echoed the conventional wisdom, others suggested that larger firm size has limited or even positive effects on professional satisfaction.
In one counter-narrative, large law firms are relatively diffuse organizations that have limited influence over individual lawyers. In another counter-narrative, large law firms helpfully insulate lawyers from the business risks of smaller firms. I offer a framework to explain these varied experiences. The framework highlights the importance of seniority, practice-area compatibility, local office attributes, and the manner and rate offirm growth. These new perspectives can inform future research and improve advice to law students and lawyers.