Let's blame the consultants

by Vault Law Editors | July 14, 2009

  • My Vault

According to Edwin Reeser, blogging at LegalOnRamp, “It’s time to build the law firm that both clients and lawyers want.”

If both lawyers (‘providers’) and clients (‘consumers’) are so justifiably unhappy with the status quo, what is to be done?  That question is not exactly answered—instead we get a look at the baleful influence of consultants on the legal profession: “Scores of law firms are chasing down a business or ‘strategic’ plan they paid hundreds of thousands of dollars (in some cases more than a million dollars) for, dashing to, and already in some cases over, the ocean cliffs like lemmings.”

According to Reeser, all the usual restructuring moves undertaken by firms (e.g., jettisoning low value practices and underperforming partners) have been a ‘disaster’ for the industry.  Why?

The consulting business has a fundamental flaw. (i.e.,  Consultants can only sell the advice that clients are willing to buy.”)  Consider the rating agency evaluations of bonds on behalf of i-banks, or feasibility studies preformed for real estate developers: “If the consultant's alternative to a fair and objective analysis is starvation … expect the report to be something less than a full treatment of the issue.” 

Consultants ask the wrong questions.  Firms hire consultants to advise them on how to increase profits per partner. Consultants should be asking “How do firms provide better quality service and work product at a lower price for its clients?”

 

A structural change is not a solution. For the last decade or so, consultants have been advocating that law firms adopt a strategy of growth + a ‘practice group-centered’ (as opposed to ‘geographic’) restructuring.  For Reeser, this is akin to “deciding that henceforth during the game of musical chairs, everyone will march clockwise, as opposed to the old process of marching counterclockwise. The challenge of operating more effectively remains.”

 

                                                -posted by brian

Filed Under: Law

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