Four years ago, when my partners and I decided to re-launch Handal & Morofsky, our decision arose in very large part from our disgust with the gross inefficiency we experienced at the “BigLaw” firms. We figured that a boutique of highly specialized intellectual property and corporate attorneys, who also happened to be closet computer geeks, could do twice the job at half the price of our BigLaw counterparts.
Not only that, but we also bet that our computer savvy and willingness to adapt new technology and methods to the administrative tasks of running a law firm would allow us to make a higher per-partner profit even at the lower fees we charged. We were right. Now, the corporate counsel of major companies are beginning to see the problem with BigLaw as well:
Frustrated by ridiculous bills for routine “commodity” matters, Flaherty decided to strike back, and recently launched his technology audit program, where firms bidding for Kia’s business must bring a top associate for a live test of their skills using basic, generic business tech tools such as Microsoft Word and Excel, for simple, rudimentary tasks.
So far, the track record is zero. Nine firms have taken the test, and all failed. One firm flunked twice.
Technological inefficiency is probably the least of the problems that BigLaw has with its business model, but the one silver lining to our current economic mess is that the economy is forcing clients to reevaluate the default “bigger is better” mentality.
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