Hurricane Force Winds Destroy Legal System
Thin Skinned Solos

Silence Perpetuates the Status Quo

Here is an interesting article written by Daniel B. Evans in 1993 which discusses in detail "Why Lawyers Can't Manage."

Some interesting observations made by Mr. Evans:

I have read too many articles and commentaries which lament the extent to which law has become a "business". The implicit assumption is that if a lawyer acts like a greedy, unprincipled, and insensitive pig, he is acting like a businessman. The truth is that a successful service business strives to provide useful and attractive services at reasonable prices, promote customer satisfaction, and earn a profit. Why are those concepts so offensive to the legal profession? ...

At a partnership meeting, most lawyers will be better at raising issues than at resolving them. They will not be happy until they have dissected every aspect of the situation, raised every possible problem or consideration, and voiced every possible argument for and against every issue. Trained to identify problems, they do so at every opportunity, whether or not it is appropriate, often blocking any managerial action by the firm.

Because they raise (or create) so many problems in business transactions, lawyers have a reputation for being "deal killers". What is often overlooked is that lawyers can also be "law firm killers"....

Recording time spent of behalf of clients was originally supposed to help law firms bill clients and allocate resources more intelligently. ... However, law firms today do not use recorded time as one factor to consider in billing clients, but use recorded time as the sole factor in billing clients. This has so many adverse effects that the "billable hour" has become a Frankenstein monster, now threatening to destroy the lawyers who have nourished it.

After a long day (or a long week) of arguing with opponents in court or negotiating with the other parties in a commercial transaction, a lawyer will return to the office to meet with his or her partners. Unable to psychologically "shift gears" or "shift roles", the lawyer will continue to think and act like an adversary, and will proceed to argue with his or her partners or negotiate with them instead of cooperating with them.

There clearly are significant institutional issues working against significant improvements in the legal system, and especially the business practices of law firms.  That is why I believe that the most immediate and important goals for innovative lawyers include offering market alternatives to clients and educating other lawyers, clients, law schools and associates about the problems and alternatives to traditional hourly billing business models.  We can make a difference but we can not do so silently.  Silence merely perpetuates the status quo and leaves people with the impression that (1) the current system is appropriate and (2) there are no alternatives.


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