In yesterday’s online issue of AmericanLawyer.com, there was more talk about corporations, who have traditionally utilized BigLaw, switching to smaller law firms. Companies like Nouveau Elevator Industries, SAIC, Cisco Systems, HCA, and 3M Company are among those cited in the article “The Big Squeeze” (free registration required) as switching at least some of their business to smaller firms. Others are being told “how many associates can be on a case, how many depositions they can take, and to settle cases sooner,” according to the article.
Some of the firms adversely impacted apparently include Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker (750-plus lawyers), Cooley Godward Kronish (600-plus), Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson (675), Latham & Watkins (2300-plus) and Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett (860-plus).
Some of the firms gaining work include: Munger Tolles & Olson (192 lawyers), Morrison Cohen (95 lawyers), Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto (150 lawyers), O’Connor, O’Connor, Hintz & Deveney (18 lawyers), and Frenkel Lambert Weiss Weisman & Gordon (28 lawyers).
Nouveau in explaining their reasoning for parting ways with Wilson Elser said: : “If you can conserve capital in any way, you do,” says Timothy McEnaney, Nouveau’s general counsel. “And if the quality of service is as good or better – and in this case it’s better (ouch!) – then it’s foolish not to make the change.”
The opportune time is now to let BigCorp know that you have quality talent and are cheaper to boot. So, don’t wait until your BigLaw competitors become SmallLaw competitors (what with the shedding of associates, staff and slashing those first year salaries and all), you never know when those large firms might just be your size again.
In the meantime, crank up those business development efforts aimed at BigCorp.