Seth Godin had an insightful post in his blog today, Bigger for?. He writes about the pains of checking into a huge hotel, where no one knows your name, there is always a line at check-in and the gym is full at 5 in the morning. Bigger helps the owner make more profit (at least the owner thinks it will make more profit), but it does little for the customer.
Law firms that merge always say the merger is in the best interest of their clients. “Bigger platform” is a phrase you frequently hear. But I have never heard, or even heard of, a client saying that they thought the merger or acquisition was in their best interest.
For clients, bigger law firms mean more conflicts, less flexibility in fee structures or other steps that provide real value to the client. It means even greater cross-selling (“let me introduce to my new partner–pssst, what’s your name–er, George, who is the greatest lawyer in the world in—pssst, what’s your practice area–, er, Tanzanian wildlife restoration”). Clients thrive when law firms design around the client, not from size. Size is an obstacle to being able to design around the client.