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Once we accept that the legal industry is in a scoping crisis, we need to do some soul searching as to how we got here to find a way forward out of the unprofitable mire. Lawyers have been trained to deliver the best service, and this has made them price-blind while the industry has shifted the definition of client value. Firms need to institutionally prioritize value by scoping and managing to the expected price.

How can resistant partners be made to think about the profitability of their matters?

At most firms, radical change is out of the question. Compensation is not typically linked to the financial performance of individual matters, and in any case, salary distribution is typically determined in three-year cycles. That’s a slow ship to turn, even for firms willing to do so. At an individual level, partners don’t like to think of themselves as accountants; they’re disconnected from the math that runs their organizations. And they don’t like to be “managed” from below by dedicated project managers.

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