It never pays to revisit your own prognostications.

“The End of the Old Leverage” was the cover line of the July 1993 issue of The American Lawyer, the teaser for a provocative argument that the fundamentals of the law business were changing for good. Making profits by loading up matters with low-level associate manpower – “troop deployment” – was a thing of the past, we proclaimed. In the future, we asserted, profits will come from providing value to clients that far exceeds the value of the lawyers’ time charged at conventional rates. That could mean shouldering risks (through contingent and other alternative fees, for example), or providing extraordinary expertise or by doing work far more efficiently than the competition (perhaps by using fewer junior lawyers). In short, we announced, the old leverage was dead.

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