My Tweet (featured below) gave rise to multiple related and robust conversations, especially about the legal talent that BigLaw (large law firms) hire versus the talent that the Big 4 hire. And I suspect that alternative legal service providers align with the Big 4 for purposes of this talent conversation.
The conversations highlighted for me the question of whether the Big 4 can achieve substantially different results, costs, or outcomes by hiring the same legal talent as BigLaw does.
So the question I have is why, if the Big 4 hire the same talent as BigLaw, including lawyers trained by BigLaw, can they expect different outcomes than BigLaw?
The Big 4 and ALSP likely say that they offer multidisciplinary teams, better technology and infrastructure, and more efficiency. If that is right and true, those factors can help alternatives to BigLaw win more high volume legal work. And indeed, that appears to be the focus of many Big 4 and ALSP. And only some BigLaw try to compete for that segment of work.
But if the Big 4 and ALSP want to go up upstream to the higher value work on which most BigLaw focus, at least with the way the world and legal writ large work today, they will need to do it with lawyers. And if they are hiring lawyers from BigLaw, I await an explanation of how and why they will offer more value deploying the same lawyers as do BigLaw. If the Big 4 has a special sauce that lets them change the behavior and work habits of traditional lawyers faster than BigLaw can, I am eager to see the sauce or its taste (outcome).
With this post, I hope to foster a broader conversation about distinctions among different types of legal providers. Many legal market commentators assume the Big 4 and ALSP are different from and have better approaches than BigLaw. Perhaps. But perhaps not.
Twitter today brought home that no one argues we don’t need any lawyers. And with lawyers still in the mix, I am waiting to hear how they will work differently outside of BigLaw.
Ron Friedmann, a lawyer, has spent three decades improving law practice efficiency and law firm business operations. He is Chief Knowledge + Information Officer at LAC Group.
He is a Fellow and former Trustee of the College of Law Practice Management and speaks and writes regularly.
Big 4 vs BigLaw Legal Talent was first published on Ron’s PRISM blog on November 1, 2019.