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Posts Tagged ‘Solo and Small Firms’

In one weekend I heard this from a successful entrepreneur and from a General Electric senior counsel: big firms are arrogant,   overpriced, and we will not play with them anymore.

One of my close friends has been very successful in overseas finance over the last 3 years.  Recently, he began several new ventures and approached big law firms for advice and assistance. My friend, let’s call him Arthur as he’s very private, asked the lawyer from the BF to review some paperwork for a real estate venture. From experience as a hands-on, high IQ personality, Arthur knew that he could do it himself. But it would take him too long when he had other priorities to attend with his new ventures.

The lawyer from the BF firm told Arthur he would have to retain the firm for $10,000 before he could take on the project and help him.  Arthur was livid and tried explaining to the BF lawyer that this was an easily contained project of reading and advice which should not cost more than $2,000!  The BF lawyer stood his ground and quickly lost Arthur as a client.  Not only did he lose Arthur as client for that firm, but for all BFs.

Arthur soon after found a former BF lawyer, who not only turned the work around in only 2 days, but for $600!!!  Which leads me to my next story….

My wife is attending an employment law seminar in Miami and heard a senior counsel from GE talk about hiring law firms. I used to be GE legal and from experience GE only used established BFs.  I can only guess that 3 years later, and a recession (GE Capital’s losses are not helping), that GE has now reconsidered. According to this source, GE is now retaining boutique firms, as well as former BF solos and outsourcing discovery operations to India.

Both stories end with people who have the capital and need to retain BFs, that choose not to deal with the bureaucracy, expense and in some cases the perceived arrogance of BFs.  I still believe that BFs will have a role, but some will have to redefine what a BF is.  In many cases, they may benefit from building new ventures and building those brands rather than resuscitating the old one.  Yup, say goodbye to some of our cherished Dudley Fudleys and Moore!

Solos and small firms (SSFs), while a viable service option for less complex tasks, cannot scale up to compete with BF’s massive infrastructure and pedigree stables of talent. Only when SSFs organize themselves into L-VEN’s (legal virtual enterprise networks), will they achieve what was never possible before – scale and autonomy.

SSFs will need to build networks of trust amongst themselves to scale up. When they do, they will have dealt the final blow, the one from which nothing can save the rapid decline of BFs.

Game over!

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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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