Millennials were already skeptical of the law firm model. Then the pandemic hit, reinforcing the legal profession’s worst tendencies. A walk through the data.


Law firm leaders generally underestimated the magnitude, duration, and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like other experienced but untrained decision-makers, many law firm leaders were excessively optimistic about their firm’s prospects and conceptually limited in defining their firm’s risks.

Even the law firms that met or exceeded their financial aspirations now face a force stronger and more threatening to their business model than COVID-19: disaffected, disenchanted, and disappointed Millennial attorneys constituting nearly one-half of all attorneys in the 400 largest law firms. Thus, lawyers are very much a part of an upheaval in the nation’s workforce that Gallup calls the “The Great Discontent” and “The Great Resignation.”
Continue Reading Millennial attorneys, COVID-19, and innovation (260)


Preliminary thoughts on our next paradigm.

In Post 231, I presented a crowded and chaotic market map as evidence that the legal industry is the early days of a revolution in which the center of gravity is shifting away from one-to-one consultative services toward a new model that includes legal products and services. Further, I suggested that the auto industry circa 1905 provides the best metaphor to convey the breadth and depth of the change that is coming our way.

Another fruitful lens for analyzing the tumult in the legal market is the Kuhn cycle (see above graphic), which is the leading framework for explaining large-scale changes in science. See Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (4th ed. 2012).
Continue Reading Does the Kuhn cycle apply to law? (233)


In ways that are often self-interested and counterproductive.


Why do I keep banging on about inquiry (i.e., asking good questions rather than advocating an opinion or advice)?  Because it’s so important and we’re  so bad at it.

I still remember the first time I tracked dialogue in a group of lawyer-leaders.   I was working with


Count me among the skeptics.


We are all familiar with the allegations that CEOs of publicly traded companies manipulating their earnings from period to period by such actions as booking discretionary expenses at the end of a strong quarter or deferring a major sale until the beginning of a new period.  No one thinks that these actions are laudable from an integrity standpoint, and sometimes they are sufficiently flagrant to result in securities-fraud allegations.

Thus, it is surprising to me that law firm managers have been boasting in the first quarter of 2021 about their prudence in prepaying in the last quarter of 2020 major expenses that were not due until 2021.  See, e.g., Andrew Mahoney, “Big Firms Headed Off ‘Great Unknowns’ by Pre-Paying Bills,” Law.com, Mar. 10, 2021 (discussing prevalence of practice).
Continue Reading Is income manipulation by Big Law laudable behavior? (227)


“It is no exaggeration to say that the Restatement of the common law is the most difficult as well as the most important public work ever undertaken without the aid of government by the legal profession in this or any other country.”  William Draper Lewis, “Present Status of the American Law Institute,” 11 NYU L Rev 337, 343 (1929).

This essay is about the importance and value of building shared “legal infrastructure,” which is a term coined by the eminent economist and law professor Gillian Hadfield in her book, Rules for a Flat World (2017).
Continue Reading Legal infrastructure and the forgotten story of the Restatements (207)

Jumping as metaphor for innovating


The low bar set by an insular, self-satisfied profession.


The legal profession is stymied by an innovation crisis. We lack the bold ideas, new models, and financial commitments necessary to address our acute dilemmas and deficiencies in law firm efficiency, client satisfaction, legal education, law student indebtedness, racial injustice, lack of diversity in law firms


A long-game model based on expertise, access, and trust.


This post is a deep dive into LexFusion, a new go-to-market organization founded by Joe Borstein and Paul Stroka.

Longtime readers of Legal Evolution may recall Post 034, which was a profile of the legal industry’s most skillful and accomplished team of consultative


The data exist to make legal education measurably better.


Figure 1 above uses data from the 2020 Law School Survey of Student of Engagement (LSSSE) to visualize 10 average score “distributions” based on responses from 12,969 law students at 68 participating U.S. law schools. The distributions are at the law school level. Thus, for all ten measures, each participating law school’s average score exists somewhere within the orange-yellow-grey-blue-green distribution.  The grey is the fat part of the underlying bell curve (25-75th percentiles).  In addition, each Figure 1 measure maps to one or more of the ABA’s Accreditation Standards (see references in brackets).
Continue Reading What is an excellent legal education? Answers based on data (193)