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The standoff: Why the business model of big law firms is in big trouble

The business model of magic circle and white shoe firms is in big trouble, warn George Beaton and Eric Chin

26 March 2014

Times are changing for large law firms and their business model is starting to get into big trouble in most parts of the world. The forces that structure an industry and the ability of its enterprises to extract profits have all turned from neutral or favourable to adverse over the past decade.

It’s becoming clearer what’s happening in the legal services industry, particularly among law firms at the top end of the market. To understand the severity and intractability of the challenges facing them, one must understand the fundamentals of their business model
(the BigLaw model).

The BigLaw model

The BigLaw business model is based on the professional principles of technical excellence, client centricity and high standards of ethical behaviour. The model progressively evolved from the practice of law to the business of law...

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