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BigLawMoney and Meaning in the Modern Law Firm$
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Mitt Regan and Lisa H. Rohrer

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226741949

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226742274.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 19 May 2022

Pruning for Productivity

Pruning for Productivity

(p.96) 5 Pruning for Productivity

Mitt Regan

Lisa H. Rohrer

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 5 describes how the 2008 financial crisis removed the traditional stigma against law firm layoffs. Law firm partnership traditionally provided life tenure, but this is now a thing of the past. Firms now are much less patient than they used to be with partners who are seen as underperforming in terms of their contribution to firm profitability. Willingness to terminate such partners is driven an important ways by a firm's concern for its ranking with respect to profits per partner. These annual rankings not only reflect the relative financial performance, but are taken as signifying a firm's competitive position in the market and its prestige. Some firms attempt to reduce the need to terminate partners by supporting a wide range of legal practices with different levels of profitability. This enables them to pay partners at substantially different rates, which reflects the acceptance of different levels of partner contribution. Other firms offer more time than others for partners to improve their productivity, and provide a longer period of advance notice before partner must leave the firm. In these ways, such firms attempt to balance business considerations with commitment to non-financial professional values.

Keywords:   layoffs, productivity, profits per partner, termination, partners

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