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February 2013 Newsletter

February 1, 2013


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As I was sitting at the Ben Folds Five concert in Las Vegas last week during our third annual Pekarsky Stein firm retreat, my mind wandered to this very newsletter.  I never stop thinking of you, my loyal reader.   Here’s what I was thinking:  How the heck am I going to condense so much content into so little space in an articulate manner with a punchy, relevant and clever punchline?    Then the band played There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You and it hit me.

Smile like you’ve got nothing to prove; No matter what you might do; There’s always someone out there cooler than you.”

Yep.  It’s true.

Sure, I predicted in March 2011 that “national and international firms will face the ever increasing challenge of continuously defining and refining their value proposition; or, put another way, asking themselves, ‘Why should people stay here?’  It’ll take more than a new website and a re-branding exercise” I said.   And, yes, I wrote in December 2012 that “it is not compelling to simply be big.  Wal-Mart is big but I don’t like to shop there.   There has to be something tangible and better for the clients, the lawyers who work there and the recruits they hope to attract. ” And wouldn’t you know it…A few short weeks later, in a month packed with a flurry of lateral moves involving several law firms, eight very senior and highly respected members of FMC (soon-to-be global giant Dentons), leave the firm to establish their own litigation boutique, Rose LLP.  Nostra-frickin-damus.


Then along comes Jordan Furlong and his brilliant analysis of the current state of affairs in the Canadian legal market.  One which he succinctly summarizes as “a fundamental conflict at the heart of the private legal market: the core, critical, and maybe irresolvable conflict between a law firm and its lawyers.”  He goes on to say, “buried deep among the assumptions inherent in law firm mergers [is] that when it comes to lawyers, ‘more is better.’ Getting bigger isn’t really the point of law firm growth. Becoming more effective, more valuable and more profitable is the point — and when you’re dealing with lawyers, adding more of them could actually interfere with those objectives, because lawyers are hard to manage in any firm and virtually impossible to manage in massive ones.”


Why?  Because long before the formation of Rose LLP Mr. Furlong specifically referenced FMC and its decision to go global by merging with, among others, a US based firm, and he discussed the perils of tying the knot with one firm because it means cutting off all those other streams of referral work.   He predicted that referral work would go elsewhere, and the lawyers who received that work would leave.   Now I’m not sure if it did; but they did.  However, he also said that the firm would “be smaller, more focused, more specialized, more globally integrated and quite possibly, more profitable for the remaining partners.  Because, again, being big is not the point.   Being effective, valuable and profitable is.”   So I’m going to just smile, like I’ve got nothing to prove because I think the analysis is not only right and considerably more thoughtful than my Wal Mart line but it leaves something for people on both sides of the debate – big v. small; lawyer v. law firm – to point to and say:   What he said.

Including me.

Have a great February, enjoy a few more Vegas pics below and I hope you like this month’s articles, especially the one about the lawyer who billed for time spent having sex with his client.  Good thing lawyers bill in increments of 6 minutes.






The Lawyer vs. The Law Firm
By:  Jordan Furlong
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So I’ve been thinking a lot about law firm mergers lately (especially between large Canadian firms and their much larger international counterparts). That in turn has led me to think about cross-selling, why it’s so important to the success of these newly merged firms (and others), and about the relative failure of firms to make cross-selling work. And these in turn have led me to my final post of the year, in which I usually try to assess the state of the legal market and what we can expect in the coming year. [Read more]



Another Strong Year for Law Firm Mergers
By:  Ward Bower
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Cross-Border Deals Highlight of Law Firm Merger Market in 2012.

Newtown Square, PA, January 7, 2013 — There were 60 law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the United States in 2012.  The annual total matched the 2011 total of 60 deals, according to Altman Weil MergerLine.  After a year largely characterized by small strategic acquisitions, the fourth quarter of 2012 saw four large, international law firm combinations announced. [Read more]


Don’t Hire the Perfect Candidate
By:  Lance Haun
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Companies often throw good money after bad when looking for the perfect candidate for an open position. Due to the lingering effects of the recession and the perception of a glut of talent, hiring managers are still picky about their hires and many jobs remain unfilled. Who can blame them? The cost of hiring the wrong person is extremely high, especially when you factor in many of the hidden costs.  [Read more]


Why Clients Choose Law Firms

By:  Daniel J. DiLucchio, Jr.

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In the fall of 2012, we asked Chief Legal Officers to rate a series of factors on how effective each is in influencing their selection of outside counsel. We received over 200 responses from top law department decision makers showing clear preferences on what matters – and what doesn’t – when it comes to choosing law firms.  Download the Report  by clicking here!


Tomorrow’s [In-house] Lawyers

By:  Fred Krebs

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While in London, England, last week, I had the privilege of attending a party to celebrate the launch of Tomorrow’s Lawyers, the fascinating new book by Richard Susskind. I fully anticipate this book — like its predecessor The End of Lawyers? —will stimulate much debate in the legal community. David Allgood, executive vice president and general counsel of the Royal Bank of Canada, calls it, “A must-read for anyone interested in the future of legal services.” I found it especially valuable as I work on a research project for the Association of Corporate Counsel to identify skill sets for the GC of the future.  [Read more]


Leadership Investments that increase Productivity and Profitability

By:  Thomas S. Clay

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Undeniably, a major objective of law firm managing partners, and all firm leaders, is to increase firm productivity and thereby achieve its by-product — increased profitability. In my work advising law firms, regardless of the type of project I’m working on, there is always some linkage to the objective of increased productivity. [Read more]


New Voice but Same Words
By:  Stephen Mabey
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T. S. Elliot once unknowingly demonstrated insight into the legal profession when he wrote: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. . . .”

The challenge in the legal profession is not that voices don’t change (albeit sometimes too slowly) but the words never change.  [Read more]



Lawyer Bills for Time Spent Having Sex with Client

By:  Mitch Kowalski

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Lawyers have sometimes been known to “fudge” their time sheets in order to meet personal billing targets. But a Minnesota lawyer has taken time-sheet fraud to a whole new level. reports that attorney Thomas P. Lowe was suspended for a year and three months for having an affair with a client and for billing her for time spent having sex with her.  [Read more]