In the post just below this one, I wrote about the associate turnover problem confronting BigLaw. As I was writing, I thought about the wonderful opportunity that problem creates for firms like Valorem. If you were thinking of purchasing a lamp, and were given a choice, would you rather pay $300 for the lamp or $150? It’s not a trick question. And, of course, the answer is obvious.
It is precisely the rapid turnover of associates at large law firms that allow firms like Valorem to offer those very same associates–not ones "just like those at big firms, but the ones who just left big firms" –at about half their original price. And because firms like Valorem are forced to find cost-effective technology or other solutions to the problems Big Firms address by throwing hundreds of high-priced and dissatisfied associates at them, these immensely talented lawyers have a change to do the things that turn them, rapidly in most cases, into outstanding lawyers who are realizing the potential that led the big firms to hire them in the first place.
As a result, what’s emerging is this paradox: the best and the brightest leave the high priced big law firms in search of an alternative that provides better alternatives. They find it, receive better training and better opportunities to develop, and actually do develop. They develop so much they are actually better and more experienced than their former colleagues, many of whom are still reviewing documents manually, slowly and at great expense to the client. The departed, meanwhile, have learned how to solve problems for their clients in a more creative, efficient way.
Which one of these provides the greater return on client fees?