De-skilling globalising law firms

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Yet another great piece at SMS – also not yet published – from Susan Segal-Horn and Alison Dean. What happens when corporate law-firms go international? Seems from in-depth research on their reports that – amongst other things – they start de-skilling, with a larger proportion of work being done by non-qualified lawyers [paralegals etc.], and start reporting their performance differently. Instead of reporting ‘profit per equity partner’ they focus on profit per partner [all types] and profit per fee-earner. FYI an equity partner is one who shares in the ownership, whereas a non-EP has high status but no share in the firm’s equity. Also, an increasing fraction of rising qualified lawyers don’t get to the top client-facing positions, but have to [or want to?] be content with back-office professional positions.

Interestingly, this matches almost exactly what we saw happening in a largely UK-based law firm last year.

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