Law Firm 2.0 – The End (for now) and Recap and Downloading the Entire Series.

After the initial explosion of attention generated from my first post about 10 months ago where I took many startup lawyers to task on fees and over lawyering, there has been solid, but declining media attention on my follow up series Law Firm 2.0.

Ironically, the first post was only meant to be a wake-up call, whereas the follow-up articles were the “meat” of the argument. Of course, controversy sells and I am media-experienced enough to know that the original post would probably take most of the headlines.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about these issues – years in fact. The original rant (as some termed it) was not an emotional reaction, rather something that has been in my head for a long time.

In case you missed it, here were the major posts in the series (the whole series is here):

  1. Why Startup Lawyers Frustrate Me – the post that started the series, including the quick follow up to clarify some points and poke fun at some whiny lawyers;
  2. Why can’t financings be easier and cheaper? – A look into making financing transactions more efficient;
  3. Let’s change billing practices before it is too late – Exploring alternative billing practices and ramifications for keeping the status quo;
  4. Re-architecting the Law Firm – Specific recommendations for redesigning the business plans of law firms with specific topics:
    1. Associate Retention and Hiring;
    2. Cost Structures;
    3. Compensation; and
    4. Outsourcing;
  5. Lawyer Bill of Rights – What Clients need to do in order to help law firms change;
  6. Lawyer Layoffs – What It Means To You; and
  7. What might the future of law firms look like? – Some guesses for the future.

So what’s become of all of this? Well, I’ve met a lot of progressive lawyers and do believe that there are many out there who realize the issues and are working hard to change things. Whether or not they have the influence to do so within their large corporate structures is another issue. I’ve also gotten to meet many smaller firms that have created new business models. It will be exciting to watch these firms evolve.

I’ve also been fortunate to garner a ton of comments on specific posts. To me, this is the greatest satisfaction and greatest strength of the series. I think the comments are in many case more persuasive and valuable than my original thoughts. I’d highly encourage fans of the series to go back and read your comments. They really are great.

Furthermore, I’ve been incredibly lucky to meet entrepreneurs who not only share my frustrations, but are creating companies to service Law Firm 2.0. These technologies are incredibly exciting and I hope to see them integrated into the practice soon. Our investment in FirstDocs is representative of technologies that we believe Law Firm 2.0 will use.

And with that, you have Law Firm 2.0. Actually in review, it’s really “Law Firm 1.8” as it needs some work, but I figured after “body slamming” my former colleagues, I owed them more than just criticism, but some real ideas. Hopefully some change will come of it, because if the amount of email that I’ve gotten from entrepreneurs is any indication, there are a lot of negative feelings out there. And it’s not realistic for the clients to force change. They may pay the bills, but it’s too hard for them to organize and put any real pressure on the firms to change. Rather at some point, they’ll just pay someone else and quietly walk away. This I am sure of.

Let’s keep the discussion going. For now, I’m done. I invite any name brand firm that is serious on making real changes to contact me if they’d like to discuss. Let’s see how creative, inventive and full of entrepreneurial spirit these firms can be along the lines of the clients they service.

(P.S. – I’d like to thank some “big company lawyers” who called and emailed with suggestions of how to make things better. There are clearly some folks with their hearts in the right place; it’s just that steering the massive ship into the waters of change will take some very strong captaining. Of course, none of them wanted to go directly on the record, but I thank you folks for all of your encouragement and help with this series).