Yesterday, the New York Times ran an article, At Law Firms, Reconsidering the Model for Associates’ Pay. Hmmmm. Sounds like maybe law firms learned that their model was broken and needed fixing. Only partly so, though. And, as it turns out, the wrong part.
The story featured in the article is how Kaye Scholer cut first year salaries from $160,000 to $60,000 and put that group of associates to work on pro bono matters. But suddenly there is work to do and what does Kaye Scholer do? It pays them more money and puts them to work reviewing documents.
If nothing else has been learned in the last two years, we certainly know that contract lawyers and technology can perform a document review better, or certainly as well as, than a group of young lawyers at high-priced law firms. Apparently Kaye Scholer hasn’t gotten that message. Instead of figuring out the best, least costly approach for its clients, Kaye Scholer decided to use its own manpower at a higher price. Good for the firm. It’s clients? Not so much.
I wonder how its clients feel about Kaye Scholer’s business strategy, which to me, sounds an awful lot like Kaye Scholer is treading water until it can go back to the old normal.