In the current economy, law firms are struggling to meet rising demands while maintaining a healthy culture. Many law firms are attempting to become “full service” and consist of many types of lawyers. Often, these firms have a wide range of practice groups, and their shared overhead is supported by the non-profit nature of their practices. Despite these challenges, many law firms are continuing to adopt shared overhead strategies.
A common question is, “Why do law firms exist and not just individual lawyers?” The answer is often “our lawyers.” By this, most law firm leaders are referring to specialized areas of practice such as IP, tax, M&A, and employment. This acknowledges the specialized role of lawyers as technical experts, diagnosing and addressing legal problems. This trend is only intensifying, as knowledge changes and the pace of change increases.
Large law firms, on the other hand, specialize in many areas of law. These large firms usually consist of several attorneys and span several states. The work of these law firms is often multi-disciplinary, and they often represent high-stake entities. However, some larger law firms represent individuals with legal issues spanning several practice areas. For example, a litigation law firm handles litigation, while a transactional law firm takes care of the heavy paperwork that goes along with such cases.
Another reason law firms exist is that lawyers can’t practice outside of their chosen area. In some cases, lawyers will join law firms with other lawyers who have similar expertise, and this is advantageous for both sides. For example, a transactional attorney may never enter a courtroom. However, a litigation attorney may practice in a complex legal matter. They share the same clientele and the same brand name.