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jerryking : big_law   18

Opinion | The Meritocracy Is Ripping America Apart
Sept. 12, 2019 | - The New York Times | By David Brooks.

savage exclusion tears the social fabric.

There are at least two kinds of meritocracy in America right now. Exclusive meritocracy exists at the super-elite universities and at the industries that draw the bulk of their employees from them — Wall Street, Big Law, medicine and tech. And then there is the more open meritocracy that exists almost everywhere else.

In the exclusive meritocracy, prestige is defined by how many people you can reject....The more the exclusivity, the thicker will be the coating of P.C. progressivism to show that we’re all good people.

People in this caste work phenomenally hard to build their wealth......People in this caste are super-skilled and productive.....These highly educated professionals attract vast earnings while everybody else gets left behind......Parents in the exclusive meritocracy raise their kids to be fit fighters within it....affluent parents invest on their kids’ human capital, over and above what middle-class parents can afford to invest......the Kansas Leadership Center. The center teaches people how to create social change and hopes to saturate the state with better leaders. But the center doesn’t focus on traditional “leaders.” Its mantra is: “Leadership is an activity, not a position. Anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere.” The atmosphere is one of radical inclusion.....People in both the exclusive and open meritocracies focus intensely on increasing skills. But it’s jarring to move from one culture to the other because the values are so different. The exclusive meritocracy is spinning out of control. If the country doesn’t radically expand its institutions and open access to its bounty, the U.S. will continue to rip apart.
Accomplisher_Class  Big_Law  caste_systems  Colleges_&_Universities  David_Brooks  elitism  exclusivity  hard_work  human_capital  inequality  law_firms  leadership  medicine  meritocracy  op-ed  parenting  political_correctness  social_classes  social_exclusion  social_fabric  social_impact  social_inclusion  social_mobility  society  technology  values  Wall_Street  winner-take-all 
september 2019 by jerryking
How a private equity boom fuelled the world’s biggest law firm
June 6, 2019 | Financial Times | James Fontanella-Khan and Sujeet Indap in New York and Barney Thompson in London.

Jeff Hammes took the helm at a Chicago-based law firm called Kirkland & Ellis in 2010, with the aim of turning it into a world-beater, few in the industry thought he stood a chance.......known as a good litigation firm in Chicago with a decent mid-market private equity practice, in the blockbuster dealmaking world, however, the firm was largely irrelevant. Nobody took them seriously on Wall Street.....Fuelled by explosive growth in private equity, aggressive poaching of talent and most of all, a business model that resembles a freewheeling investment bank, Kirkland has become the highest-grossing law firm in the world.....This rise reflects the shift in the financial world’s balance of power since the financial crisis. Investment banks, the dominant force before 2008, have been eclipsed by private equity firms, which now sit on hundreds of billions of dollars of investment funds.

Kirkland thrived by hitching itself to this dealmaking activity. The firm presents with a relentless — many say ruthless — focus on growth, a phenomenal work ethic and a desire to up-end what it sees as a lazy hierarchy. Key questions: can its winning streak can continue? Will its private equity clients continue to prosper? how will Kirkland cope if and when the private equity boom ends? And can a firm with such a hard-charging culture survive in the long run?....Robert Smith’s Vista Equity has grown to manage assets from $1bn to $46 in a decade while working with Kirkland.....To establish Kirkland as a major player, Mr Hammes turned his attention to recruitment. ....poaching proven M&A experts and targeting all areas of dealmaking.....To entice the best lawyers to join its ranks, Kirkland managed to exploit a structural rigidity in its more traditional white-shoe and magic circle rivals. A dwindling but still significant number of elite firms remunerate equity partners using a “lockstep” model......
Kirkland sought rising stars in their late thirties who were at the bottom of this ladder, stuck in the queue for the highest share of profits. Part of its pitch was money — “With compensation, we can go as high as we want,” says one partner — but the other part was an almost unprecedented level of autonomy.
Big_Law  booming  business_development  Chicago  compensation  concentration_risk  dealmakers  deal-making  eat_what_you_kill  financial_crises  growth  hard-charging  high-end  hiring  howto  hustle  Kirkland_Ellis  law  law_firms  litigation  mid-market  organizational_culture  poaching  private_equity  recruiting  Robert_Smith  superstars  talent  turnover  Vista  Wall_Street  winner-take-all  work_ethic  world-class 
june 2019 by jerryking
The dawn of the superstar lawyer
April 9, 2018 | Financial TImes | James Fontanella-Khan, Sujeet Indap in New York and Barney Thompson in London YESTERDAY Print this page140
law_firms  Big_Law  law  lawyers  compensation  winner-take-all  superstars  eat_what_you_kill  organizational_culture 
april 2018 by jerryking
Law firms will pay price for failure to hold off hackers | Evernote Web
31 December/1 January 2017 | Financial Times | Brooke Masters.

"This case of cyber meets securities fraud should serve as a wake-up call for law firms around the world: You are and will be targets of cyber hacking, because you have information available to would-be criminals," Bharara said in a statement....Other professional services firms should take note. This is not the first time the industry has been hit by hackers who specialise in what is becoming known as "outsider trading"....Accounting firms that provide tax advice on mergers, boutique advisory forms, and consultants who weigh in on synergies and downsizing plans are almost certainly on the criminals' hit list....Professional service firms will not be so lucky. Banks and companies pay extremely high prices for outside advice. They expect professionalism and confidentiality in return. Getting hacked by a bunch of Chinese traders is hardly a strong recommendation of either.
Big_Law  Chinese  confidentiality  cyber_security  cyberattacks  hackers  hacking  law_firms  M&A  malware  mergers_&_acquisitions  Preet_Bharara  professional_service_firms  SEC  security_consciousness  securities_fraud  traders 
january 2017 by jerryking
SO LONG, BIG LAW / HELLO, NEW LAW
March 28, 2014 | Report on Business Magazine | Alec Scott.
The collapse of Heenan Blaikie was bad news. But what's coming is good news - even for lawyers
Big_Law  Bay_Street  law_firms  disruption  Heenan_Blaikie  dissolutions  Outsourcing  New_Law  Cognition  Axiom  lawyers  bad_news 
march 2014 by jerryking
Big Law’s Troubling Trajectory - NYTimes.com
By STEVEN J. HARPER
Published: June 24, 2013

big-firm practice has become just another business. Most readers might react to Weil’s staggering partner incomes by asking why $2 million plus a year — or even half that — isn’t enough. It’s a fair question. Ask equity partners in any big firm whether as law students they ever dreamed of making the money they now earn. Anyone answering honestly would give a resounding “No.” College students whose principal career objective was wealth typically headed into business; law school attracted those with different ambitions. After all, the legal profession was supposed to be something special.

Not anymore. Most big firms are now following the leads of their corporate clients, which run businesses with one eye on the current stock price while maximizing quarterly earnings. But that can be an unforgiving world. Weil’s enormous reported profits for 2012 included a downward arrow because they represented an 8 percent drop from 2011, in part because of expensive hires. However unjustified, even a single year of relatively minor decline can create concerns. Cutting costs through layoffs and getting more billable hours out of the survivors has become a typical, businesslike response.

Paradoxically, firms also pursue a growth agenda in the midst of such downsizing. The current demand for high-end legal services is flat, so many firm leaders use high profits to attract rainmakers from elsewhere. The effort to buy top-line revenues by acquiring partners with portable books of business has thrown most big law firms into a lateral hiring frenzy. In that contest, Weil recently lost some talent, but it has acquired even more — recruiting 20 new lateral partners in 2012 and 18 in 2011. (The firm had 195 equity partners at the end of 2012.) Ironically, recent studies demonstrate — and about 40 percent of managing partners admit — that lateral hiring usually is not profitable for the firms that do it. Yet the expensive strategy remains pervasive. The mantra that “bigger must be better” prevails in the face of contrary data.
Big_Law  law_firms  layoffs  winner-take-all  rainmaking 
june 2013 by jerryking
Suit Offers a Peek at the Practice of Inflating a Legal Bill - NYTimes.com
March 25, 2013, 3:36 pm 447 Comments
Suit Offers a Peek at the Practice of Inflating a Legal Bill
By PETER LATTMAN
law_firms  invoicing  Big_Law  fees_&_commissions  billing 
march 2013 by jerryking
Freshfields Focuses on Global Strategy to Get an Edge Over Rivals - NYTimes.com
September 24, 2012, 3:02 pmComment
Evolving Global Strategy Gives Law Firm an Edge
By MARK SCOTT
law_firms  globalization  Big_Law  Freshfields 
september 2012 by jerryking
Big Law Steps Into Uncertain Times - NYTimes.com
September 24, 2012, 5:20 pm17 Comments
Big Law Steps Into Uncertain Times
By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN
law_firms  Big_Law 
september 2012 by jerryking
Big Law Firms Try New Idea: The True CEO - WSJ.com
JANUARY 22, 2007 | WSJ |By NATHAN KOPPEL
Big Law Firms Try New Idea: The True CEO
New Style of Leader Focuses On Managing Business -- Leaving Others to Log Billable Hours

Orrick Chairman Ralph Baxter Jr. hasn't practiced law since 1992. He spends his days traveling to the firm's 18 offices world-wide, scouting lawyers and other law firms, meeting with clients and communicating with colleagues. He holds quarterly town-hall meetings via videoconference for Orrick's roughly 1,000 lawyers and sends out informational Webcasts more frequently.

As law firms have grown larger and more global in recent decades, more have followed Orrick's path. Their leaders increasingly resemble public-company CEOs, focused on managing others at the firm. Other professional firms have navigated similar changes; the big accounting firms, for example, have long been run by full-time managers.

"Ralph Baxter is the epitome of the 21st century law-firm leader," says David Wilkins, the director of Harvard Law School's Program on the Legal Profession. "Firms that have radically moved themselves up the prestige ladder and the profitability ladder and expanded their geographic scope have had full-time leaders," he says.
law_firms  CEOs  Orrick  best_practices  Big_Law  prestige  focus  professional_service_firms  scouting  HLS 
november 2011 by jerryking
Legal Rebels - 5 Business Model Innovations Solos Need to Truly Compete with BigLaw
With the financial crisis of 2008-2009, every part of this old model has come under scrutiny, even in a traditionally high-end field like IP litigation. Specifically:

Leverage. Leverage, or the associate-to-partner ratio within a firm or practice, is good for reportable profits per partner. But it is not necessarily good for clients. As clients push to cut litigation costs, leverage declines. This trend favors solos and less-leveraged practices.

Within One Firm. Historically, the transaction costs associated with assembling a team of lawyers not located under the same roof made it prohibitive to build a competitive litigation team from a network of solos. But the rise of Web 2.0 is changing that. With my LinkedIn/Facebook/Outlook network of colleagues, I can identify, customize and assemble a team in less time than it used to take to walk the halls of my old BigLaw firm. But we need innovation in the areas of contractual arrangements and the laws governing lawyers to fully deliver on the promise of the ad hoc, Web 2.0, virtual law firm.

Customized. In most areas of law practice, as the field matures, more and more aspects of the discipline become standardized.

Off the shelf. The opposite of build-it-by-hand-from-scratch-every-time [JCK: *bespoke*] . Compared with some other fields of law, IP litigation has been fairly slow to progress in this manner. It has therefore remained—relatively speaking—profitable custom work. But we are starting to see some indications that aspects of IP litigation are being made more routine, even standardized. This is a good development for the solo IP litigator. As formerly labor-intensive-but-routine pieces of IP litigation evolve into off-the-shelf modules, we are freed up to apply our creativity and good judgment to the more strategic aspects of the case, with a diminished need to spend time supervising large teams as they custom-polish a third set of interrogatories or research for the nth time how to apply the Brown Bag Software case to a two-tiered stipulated protective order. Innovation in off-the-shelf litigation modules is starting to arrive, and more is needed.

Billable hours. It has been proclaimed and repeated that the billable hour is dead. Well, maybe not quite. But it is certainly open to competition from alternative fee arrangements. We have enough data and experience now that we can start to accurately predict IP litigation costs. And we can bill a la carte, charging fixed fees for different pieces of litigation. A menu might include one fixed fee for pleading-through-pretrial conference, a per-deposition fee, a per-custodian document discovery fee and so on. Models continue to evolve. Clients want their lawyers to share the risk—to have some “skin in the game”—and to have incentives for efficiency. Innovative billing models are coming.
ad_hoc  bespoke  Big_Law  billable_hours  business_models  competitive_landscape  dissolutions  Facebook  gig_economy  JCK  law_firms  leverage  LinkedIn  Michael_McDerment  networks  patent_litigation  project_management  off_the_shelf  on-demand  risk_sharing  short-lived  short-term  skin_in_the_game  solo  standardization  teams  transaction_costs  
october 2010 by jerryking

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