For most of the year, we’ve heard talk about impending change in the world of big law firms. Long before economic calamity gripped the world’s markets, it was hard to miss the conferences, and their attendant speeches, articles, blog posts and commentary, that predicted that we were approaching a new world order. Now that economic calamity has arrived, the talk has only grown.

The exact outline of the change was and remains uncertain. It was to be the product of a confluence of forces that we all could see looming. They are: the change in English law that permits outside investors to enter the legal market place; the rise of rebellious clients who were finally prepared to do more than complain; the advent of a new generation of young lawyers who didn’t want any part of the back-breaking life of Am Law 100 partners; and the expectation–call it faith–that out of the murk and muck of Web 2.0 and the ethos of Silicon Valley, a technological change would appear that would rearrange the law firm landscape.

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