Editor's comment: Client-driven, not
Legal Week has always given short shrift to complaints from clients about advisers that seek to shift responsibility for using their own buying power. Ultimately, in any well-functioning market it's the responsibility of buyers to use their influence to shape the provision of services. But, by the same token, we should be equally dismissive of advisers' claims that they merely reflect the needs and demands of clients, as if law firms were passive and humble providers of service, a bit like butlers in period dramas. This is patently nonsense, since law firms are to a considerable extent driven by internal economics and the pressures of the self-contained world of private practice. Over the past 15 years it has been these forces that have defined law firms far more than client demand. The most obvious examples of this came in the past two booms when soaring demand for associates saw firms sharply hike salaries for junior lawyers, rises that were largely passed on to resentful clients.
If law firms reflect clients, the mirror is broken
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