How Does One Measure Whether Or Not The Legal Market Is Innovative?
There Is Distinction Between Talent And Power

Welcome To the Age of Individuals

As I have posted about previously, I am reading "The World Is Flat" by Thomas Friedman. One of the astute observations that I think Mr. Friedman makes is that the last 200 years has seen a shift in power from governments, then to corporations and now to individuals. In the age of government power, value was defined and allocated on a government basis across society. In the age of corporations, which is the one in which Mr. Friedman believes we are effectively concluding, value was provided, allocated and controlled on a corporate level. During the age of corporations, a customer or client looked to companies to provide products and services which brought the correct mix of quality, value and price.

As the barriers between corporations, countries and other entities begin to crumble, we are seeing a shift of power to where the best value proposition has always and will always reside, on an individual level. A person who is the best at what they do no longer has to exist within a company or corporate structure in order to offer that value to the market. In fact, a single person who is the best at what they do can offer that value, utilizing literally all of the same resources available to large corporations, from their home office. And, for services which require a large number of people, such as call centers, those call centers can be located halfway across the globe if people at that location can deliver more quality at a better price.

There are recent statistics that 85% of lawyers work in law firms with ten people or less. I truly do believe that we are seeing a shift of talent from big law to smaller firms and even to individual practitioners. An individual practitioner that provides value to their client will thrive because the market will react to that value proposition. The client that receives the value will tell their friends and the independent practitioners reputation will inevitably grow.

I believe that the truest form of value has always been at an individual level. But has historically be captured by large corporations and companies and effectively been held captive there. Because individuals could not afford the infrastructure to make offer their value to the market, companies had tremendous leverage over the individual worker. The availability of technology has decimated that premise. We are now entering the age of mankind where power will no longer be held by big fat cats whose historical value often times with little more than capturing or owning groups of talented individuals. It is those individuals who will rule the upcoming decades.

I used to feel bad because I knew I was at the dying end of the industrial age, which had bound up with it norms and precedents which held no rational basis in today's world. About five years ago, the light bulb came on for me. I realized that I was actually at the beginning of the information age, of the age of individuals. I look forward to watching the markets evolve and gravitate towards the value which an individual, with unique talents, can provide. I look forward to watching those individuals gravitate away from the fat cats who run large corporations. I look forward to the age of individual practitioners across legal and other professional markets.



It is not your fault, but you think only in terms of service providers. Can the smartest, best individual in the world build a car? How about 3.5 million cars, which is how many Ford sold last year? How about a house, or 10,000 houses, or a 50 story condo building?

I'm with you with the depression, but the answer is: there is no answer.

We must live and let live.


I was reading your article and what struck me was that it was not so much the direction the talent flowed, but the preception of where the talent is. In some professions, the perception of the large firm compared to the solo deals with the scale of the work that is needed to be done. However, in talking with people about my recent choice (to go solo), there is still a perception that the larger, named firms are where the "good" or "talented" lawyers work (in much the same way I was once asked when I was going to be promoted from the Public Defender's Office to the District Attorney's office by a client when I was a law student.).


Bill: I here ya. But those perceptions are changing, not only in the law but across other markets. The perception is largely created by BigLaw and their own need to make themselves feel special. Any lawyer who has practiced knows that there is a often difference between book smart and effective. While the law students with the highest grades often get the BigLaw jobs, they are not always the best lawyers.

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