The following quote from an article by Paul Lippe, the founder and CEO of LegalOnRamp, in an ABA article, “How Many Clients Do Sleepy Lawyers Hurt,” caught my attention as I was just about to take a 10-15 minute regenerative nap during lunch time:
Despite the basic “quality” proposition of elite law firms—that using a sophisticated firm reduces risk—actual evidence seems to overwhelmingly run in the opposite direction—all of the huge losses in mortgage-backed securities or in M&A, for example, were in deals led by elite law firms. We add clauses, we suggest tactics, we assert positions—but almost nothing we do as lawyers has any real ‘evidence’ behind it. More often than not, we default to the three Cs”—greater complexity, greater caution or greater control for our side must be a good thing. And when it comes to evaluating new ways of delivering legal services, the analogue to evidence-based medicine (Do legal process outsourcers hurt or improve quality of service? Does knowledge management reduce costs?) we operate with little or no evidence.
It is hard to disagree with Mr. Lippe, especially if you believe that there is room for the DIY lawyer and for significant change, especially towards standardization, in the delivery of legal services. A lot of “big firm” lawyering is guess work without a solid basis in reality or a real understanding of what will solve the problem to be solved. Too often the solution is designed not to be client-centric, but firm-centric as it addresses the problem of the firm’s overhead and need to generate profit by any means necessary. In this way, guess work is normal and errors are simply the cost of doing business and creating more business in the future.
Doesn’t this suggest to you that as a consumer you need to be a full participant in designing the solutions to your problem. More importantly, most times you need to be sure the solution offered by your lawyer is designed for your problem? What do you think?