Essentially, big law operates on the fundamental premise of ever-increasing billable hours. In order to support the salaries at the top, they must continually add increasing number of associates at the bottom. Graphically, the model appears as a pyramid where each year a new base is added which includes more associates than the year before.
As the vast majority of big law suffers under this tough economic environment, the pyramid model is suffering. Not only are they failing to add increasing numbers of associates at the bottom of the pyramid, but also big law is putting on hiring freezes and terminating large numbers of lawyers and staff.
As law firms start to break up, reorganize, and re-launch, you will begin to see the sort of diversity which many people, both lawyers and clients, have been waiting a long time for. While many see hardship for lawyers over the next few years, we see opportunity. There will never be a better opportunity to change the way law is practiced than now.