The Death of Big Law

Larry E. Ribstein (Illinois) has posted a working paper on SSRN, The Death of Big Law, in he argues that “the basic business model of the large U.S. law firm is failing and needs fundamental restructuring.”  Ribstein suggests possible changes to law-firm structure and ethics rules governing lawyers. 

The first change that he suggests is that law firms “must own a core of durable, firm-specific property”.  By that, Ribstein means firm ownership of professional goodwill (client relationships), and non-competition agreements to protect it.  No more portable practices.  To quote from “Sixteen Tons,” popularized by Tennesee Ernie Ford, but written by Merle Travis:

Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

Gary Rosin


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