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Posts Tagged ‘Baker & McKenzie’

When SSFs (sole and small firms) around the world launch Legal Virtual Enterprise Networks (L-VENs) that successfully compete with multinational law firms, they will themselves have become big law – but in 1 year, not the 100+ years of development it took a firm like Baker McKenzie.

These L-VENs will be virtual, lean, fast, everywhere and nowhere. Being in an L-VEN will feel like sitting in a high speed train, comfortable, quiet, and smooth. To those outside it will look more like this traffic intersection video (10 seconds).

To refer to these L-VENs using industrial era parameters and measurements will fail – repeatedly. Yet, L-VENs will succeed with such speed and frightening effectiveness that many will scramble to copy them and fail.

One cannot adapt to become an L-VEN, it requires evolution at accelerated speeds.

Failure is assured if you compete against an entity you cannot perceive accurately. Established firms will begin to compete amongst themselves to adapt to the speed of L-VENs. But to adapt assumes rearranging the existing building blocks. You can’t put a jet rocket engine on a car and call it a space vehicle. It’s still a car – a really fast one!

L-VENs predictably have no perceived central administration. There will be many cores, but those cores endlessly shift and appear to move chaotically. In contrast, the product will appear like a movie in that you don’t see the years of work, the countless people handling every minute detail that goes into making a movie. The client will see only the spectacularly elegant, fast, flexibility and mostly predictable results.

Not everyone can play this game.

L-VENs are by necessity the exclusive playground of the self-motivated. L-VENs are made up of lawyers that can balance life and work, those that can easily observe a system and step into it with synchronicity. These individuals play nice, have many friends, work joyfully from anywhere in the world and have a high standard of living. They understand the ability to work and collaborate as if ONE entity, while remaining an autonomous individual.

These self-motivated “elites” will simply live in another realm of experience imperceptible to the violent, forceful and command driven. If you have ever experienced how people can live in the same geographic location, but live radically different lives, you will have a reference point. One person can see and experience the world as violent, as a life of struggle and ever present threats. Another, living close by, sees the world as peaceful, loving, generous and prosperous.  They live in different worlds of experience separated only by their choices and consciousness.

Those working in L-VENs or other highly adaptable, self-directed and self-motivated enterprises will trade at rates and speeds that will “shock and awe” those left behind. They will be left behind because they cannot perceive the opportunities or how to take advantage of them.

May you evolve at an accelerated pace. May you choose a peaceful and joyful life with friends that support you in life.

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Take a look at this excerpt below from Law.Com. The full list is of the world’s top 100 law firms by revenue.

The top 10 firms below alone bring in over $20 Billion dollars in revenue, with about 25,000 lawyers.  Although clearly not an internally equitable spread, that’s about $800,000 in revenue per lawyer.

2008 Rank by Revenue Firm Gross Revenue, Most Recent Fiscal Year
1 Clifford Chance International (U.K.) $2,660,500,000
2 Linklaters International (U.K.) $2,588,500,000
3 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer International (U.K.) $2,358,500,000
4 Baker & McKenzie International (U.S.) $2,188,000,000
5 Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom National (U.S.) $2,170,000,000
6 Allen & Overy International (U.K.) $2,034,000,000
7 Latham & Watkins National (U.S.) $2,005,500,000
8 Jones Day National (U.S.) $1,441,000,000
9 Sidley Austin National (U.S.) $1,386,000,000
10 White & Case International (U.S.) $1,373,000,000

Not bad for “pushing paper” as my former client at the tabloids used to accuse us of!

What is glaring is that fact that these top ten firms are exclusively American and UK firms. Even more stupefying is that almost all the top 100 law firms come from the UK and USA, some from Canada and Australia. As these firms grow, the practice of law in English, as in business, will only increase exponentially.

Recently it has become trendy to talk about the demise of law firms and big law. It may happen to a few big firms, as it is happening to a few “ancient” businesses like General Motors. But the legal services market is essentially opportunistic. Lawyers are valuable whether the client is going up or down – we just don’t bet against them. Some of the largest USA/UK firms in the world were built on the founder’s bankruptcy practices dealing with the volatility of the 1850s- 1920s. No, I don’t expect big law to disappear, except maybe from the reach of the mass of lawyers graduating every year.

Ok, back to the English only point: will this mean that all laws in major economies (OECD and BRIC) will be translated into English? If that happens, what will become of local laws in Spanish, Urdu, Russian or Chinese? I don’t expect that local laws in native languages will disappear – certainly not from the courts.   But I can see how the culture of law will also be changed by the use of English only.

Maybe the proliferation of English language only laws will affect only the financial elites like multi-nationals and banks. Will this in turn create an exclusive cadre of global lawyers that can literally practice without borders – or has that already happened?

What do you think?

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