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by Vault Law Editors | March 23, 2010


This week, Georgetown University Law Center hosted a two-day conference, “Law Firm Evolution: Brave New World or Business as Usual.” With panelists including Top 100 law firm managing partners, Fortune 500 general counsel, law school professors and legal consultants, the event has provided plenty of fodder for the bloggerati.

In The Am Law Daily, Aric Press wrote about the opening session, which addressed the nature of the law firm-client relationship. The “lively” panel, he says, included calls for “new models that increase levels of ‘cooperation, communication and trust’ between the clients and their law firms.”

On Monday, panelists debated whether Big Law is a dead man walking. According to Press, “The answers from the day: dead, dying, and changing.”  Despite Professor Larry Ribstein’s dire prediction (“the law firm business model, however it's defined, is inherently fragile and crumbling under client and labor market pressures”), change, not death, is the operative word, asserts Jeff Jeffrey in his BLT post about the event. In her coverage for the ABA Journal, Rachel Zahorsky cites the relatively optimistic voice of Orrick CEO Ralph Baxter:

“There’s as much chance of BigLaw dying as there is a return to normal,” says Ralph Baxter, chairman and CEO of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, summing the collective thoughts of academics, consultants, law firm leaders and service providers gathered at Georgetown Law School’s annual symposium on the future of large firms.

However, according to Baxter’s colleague, Orrick partner Patricia Gillette, “Change must be sweeping. If you do not change, you will die.”

- posted by vera


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