No one…well probably no one… ever said Corporate Law was ‘sexy.’ It doesn’t have the scandals of Divorce Law or the stakes of Criminal Law. Nevertheless, it is still often revered as the upper-echelon of law practice, reserved only for the lucky few at the so-called “Big-Law” firms. For those not in the industry, “Big-Law” would typically be the type of law firm you’ve become accustomed to over the years in shows like “Boston Legal” and “The Good Wife.” And while these are great shows, they do blur the reality of legal practice. In any case, for years upon years, these firms have enjoyed top floors of skyscrapers and law students have clawed to get the six figure starting salary. However, when the recession hit, corporate America reeled and the legal budgets were the first to get cut and many of the biggest firms ‘struggled’ to keep up the multi-million dollar revenues.
But, oh, times have changed! Now that the recession cloud is waning, “Big-Law” rises like the Phoenix… maybe that’s too poetic, but I did come across an interesting article exposing just how much the equity partners at these firms are doing. The article,Benchmarks: Law Firms’ Financials Show Post-recession Growth, written by Jane Meinhardt appeared in the Tampa Bay Business Journal. And it provided some shocking numbers. In 2012, the equity partners at Holland and Knight found themselves the proud owners of $1 million each in shared profits! My immediate reaction was “wow, I must be doing something wrong.” However, the articled ended on a note that made me change my mind. Basically, it goes on to describe the concerns of the “Big-Law” managing partners. That is, the days of Corporate Law being held hostage in the lofty cherry-wood conference rooms of those skyscrapers is coming to a close. In our post-recession world, businesses are focused on efficiency and value.
More and more law firms are providing legal services to business – small and large. Business are learning to run lean and mean (so to speak). With the pervasive use of I-Pads and I-Phones, the ease of mobility has slashed overhead. Unfortunately, even the smaller firms are having trouble grasping the concept of providing services in a ‘lean and mean’ fashion.
Although litigation is our passion, at Carpenter & McLeod, we wanted to find a way to meet these needs and basically practice Corporate Law in a new way. So, we created our General Counsel Program. We’re basically your business attorney on-call. We charge a flat monthly rate. No retainer fees. No hourly rate. We know that we’re going to see more and more firms follow this mold… and we encourage it. Businesses shouldn’t have to worry about making an investment or hiring another employee or signing another contract because it is worried about the legal bill that follows.
So, what’s my point? It’s simple and somewhat self-serving… your business needs an attorney and it always will. It is an unfortunate fact, but it’s true and you need to face it. Whether you choose “Big-Law” or choose a sole practitioner, keep your focus on the value. You shouldn’t need to focus on your legal issues and your legal costs. You need to focus on growing your business. Period.