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Stanford Law School has launched a multi-year study with a donation from Sidley Austin that focuses on changes in the legal profession. Funded primarily with a $750,000 gift from the Sidley Austin Foundation and Sidley alumni of Stanford, the “Stanford Law School Study of the Legal Profession” will gather data to analyze the evolving structure and organization of law firms. The study, to be conducted by the school’s Center on the Legal Profession, is expected to take three to five years. Faculty, alumni and the Stanford University Graduate School of Business will work on the project. It will include the input of practitioners, managing partners and in-house counsel. “There is a widespread belief, which I think is true, that the legal profession is going through a radical transformation,” said Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer. The study, he said, is designed to pull together the varying perspectives and information on the changes in legal industry for an accurate and complete picture of the state of the profession and where it is headed. Harvard Law School and Georgetown University Law Center in recent years have opened centers to study the legal profession. Kramer said Stanford’s study would emphasize empirical research. The project will look at changing partner-associate ratios, hourly rates, client expectations, lateral movement, specialization, globalization, technology and more. The school will publish its findings as the work progresses on its website. Sidley Austin Executive Committee Chairman Thomas Cole said in a press release that the firm is supporting the program to “ensure a sustainable legal model that serves clients and lawyers.” Created in 2006, the Sidley Austin Foundation has provided support to the Legal Aid Society, Equal Justice Initiative and Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.

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