I was having a discussion with a client today about a variety of difficult ownership issues they were experiencing with their partner. It caused me to look at my case portfolio. I quickly noticed that a large number of the matters I am handling involve, directly or indirectly, problems between business owners. It reminded me once again that being an independent practitioner means that I don't have to answer to anyone about how and why I make the decisions that I do concerning my business. Isn't it amazing how often things eventually sour between partners in a business?
Again, it causes me to ask an important question. What advantage do business owners get by having partners? In certain situations, you need partners because you need to bring capital to the table for business start-up. In some instances, you need partners because your business offers diversified services. But, the reasons for being partners are gradually dwindling down to a few in the technology age. It used to be that you needed partners because partners provided resources that simply couldn't be gained outside a formal business relationship. Technology allows me to connect with attorneys across the United States whether or not they are my "partner" or not. The relative drop in technology costs allow me to launch state of the art technology as an independent practitioner without breaking the bank. Technology connects me to all of my virtual workers, wherever they are located.
Law firms need to start rethinking the risks and rewards of partnership. Any attorney who is a true talent will find that it is getting harder to justify a partnership in today's world. All of the problems and headaches that partners bring to the table are no longer really necessary. Besides, do you really want to give control of your job and your life to others?