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Economy Will Force Law Firms To Retool For New Environment

Publication Date: 
March 13, 2009
San Francisco Business Times
Eric Young

Dean Larry Kramer and Professor Deborah L. Rhode, Director of the Center on the Legal Profession, are quoted in the San Francisco Business Times in an article about the probability that law firms "will not enjoy the level of revenue growth that marked the past several years:"

“It really ought to be an excuse to innovate,” said Larry Kramer, the dean of Stanford University’s Law School. “It could be an opportunity to do something drastic.”


Fee structures could also be headed for a shake-up. Law firms likely will find more ways to offer rates that are not pegged to the hour, said Deborah Rhode, the director of Stanfords Center on the Legal Profession. The billable hour has been the standard for law firms for the past 50 years. But some law firm clients criticize it because it does not reward efficiency.

One effect of the downturn is more and more corporate clients will be revisiting questions about blended fees and alternative billing arrangements that might build in more incentives for efficiency, Rhode said.