Welcome To the Age of Individuals
Being Big Provides No Intrinsic Value To The Client At All!

There Is Distinction Between Talent And Power

In today's world, individual talent brings with it power that simply did not exist before technology brought the consumer and the worker together in a common connection. In yesterday's world, men with power owned companies who owned individuals with talent. Often times, the men with power had no talent themselves except their ability to accumulate power. The individuals with talent brought a particular skill to bear, but often had no business ability or access to enough money to connect their skills directly to the end user. The individual was forced to work for the company in order to obtain some small semblance of compensation for the talents they brought to bear. Companies existed to accumulate talent, provide infrastructure, and market services or products to the end user.

It always struck me growing up how the people at the top of the corporate hierarchy often seemed to have the least talent, the least aptitude and the least skill. I remember thinking growing up how easy it must be to achieve success simply looking around at my father's friends who were wealthy and successful, the business elite. After moving into a wealthy neighborhood it struck me that the most wealthy kids were those of the business owners and yet the business owning parents of those wealthy kids were often times drunks or suffered from some other insufferable insecurity.

As I grew older, and entered the corporate world, I saw tremendous talent within the workforce, however those workers were often at the bottom of the food chain and were paid the least.

I wonder what the power brokers will do once the hierarchical structure of corporate American breaks down under it's own weight and collapses inward? I wonder what those men who are so good at wielding and accumulating power once there is no value in such activity?

I challenge anyone out there to tell me what value is provided by being a firm of 1000 persons as opposed to an individual who is the most talented at what they do. The hierarchical structure of law firms growing exponentially larger as they attempt to add more worker bees at the base certainly adds imperpetuity to its ability to bill hours to the client. But, is the hierarchical structure somehow better at providing value to the client? Has any law firm ever cared about whether or not the pyramid structure is capable of delivering quality?

Of course, anyone who is being honest will admit that the pyramid structure of law firms was built on a single premise, the innate need to add more hours at the bottom of the structure each calendar year. The pyramid structure is built to drive more hours and could care less about quality. That is not to say that some large firms have not devoted time and resources to hiring the best. That is not to say that large law firms have completely ignored the quality proposition of the business model. But issues of quality and efficiency have, by no reasonable estimation, been the driving force of growth. Quality and efficiency have been talked about to some extent because, well, it is important to give lip service to such notions when you are a silk stocking entity.

I am confident that I will see the demise of the great pyramids that big law has built at the dying end of  the industrial age.

Rise up you individual workers of talent. You no longer need to subscribe to the fallacy that you need the corporate structure in order to provide value, quality and efficiency to clients. The industrial age has already passed. When will you notice?

Comments

a

The problem is the corporate faascists still control the insurance companies--the worst criminals of all. How am I to provide health care for my daughter? Her doctor is also a [best-of-the-best talent] slave to a corporate insurance/mega-hospital system.

We are slaves, just like the characters in Braveheart in the 1200s in Scotland.

It is the nature of things.

Funke

As a solo attorney by choice and not circumstance, I of course revel in your thoughts that the days of the large law firm are over. Unfortunately, the market since the 1960's has led us to ever larger law firms. A mere 40 years ago a large law firm had 5 to 10 attorneys. Now firms have over a thousand associates. The practice of law appears to have changed dramatically. My personal opinion is that the practice of law has become exceedingly complex and only an army of attorneys can even begin to understand what needs to be done. For example, imagine a timber company opening a saw-mill. In the 1950's a 2 man law firm could have handled the required permits. Today an army of a 100 attorneys is needed to understand the various state, city and federal requirements - from zoning to environmental review. In fact, just figuring out which agencies have jurisdiction over such a project can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Thus, large companies have no choice but to hire a large firm. A small company cannot know everything that needs to be done.
On the "not so sophisticated" end of things, such as residential real estate transactions, there no longer is a need for an attorney (at least in the state where I practice). Title Insurance Companies handle title review and real estate agents complete all the forms from a residential transaction. This has probably created value to the consumer (although I question whether the commission earned by real estate agents is cheaper than an attorney's service). However, the errosion of the legal profession's "guild" status on the "not so sophisticated" end of the legal spectrum leaves more and more solo practitioners struggling. This may be good for the consumer, but not necessarily good for the solo attorney.
The increased sophistication and complexity of the legal world also has lead to an increase in Legal Malpractice cases, especially against smaller law firms. The solo attorney ventures into an area of law that 40 years ago was simple, but today is fraught with complications - thus exposing the small firm to greater risk.
I don't believe that large law firms will always rule the world, but I think the trend is away from solo practice. Life today as a solo is tough - the freedom is worth the effort, but it certainly is no walk in the park.

Comments to my comment are appreciated.

Sean Woodruff

Some points to consider...

1. Companies do not appear out of dust.

2. It takes talent to build a company that hires talent.

3. In the U.S. worker's are not "forced" to work for a company.

4. Power is given TO people and companies by others, not used BY people and companies on others.

5. If a company or individual is not focused on the customer, they will never realize any market success with or without talent.

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