20 Facts About Law firms


Law firms are organized in a variety of ways, depending on the jurisdiction in which the firm practices.

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The UK had a similar rule barring nonlawyer ownership, but under reforms implemented by the Legal Services Act of 2007 law firms have been able to take on a limited number of non-lawyer partners and lawyers have been allowed to enter into a wide variety of business relationships with non-lawyers and non-lawyer owned businesses.

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Law firms operating in multiple countries often have complex structures involving multiple partnerships, particularly in jurisdictions such as Hong Kong and Japan which restrict partnerships between local and foreign lawyers.

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One structure largely unique to large multinational law firms is the Swiss Verein, pioneered by Baker McKenzie in 2004 or as GRATA International, in which multiple national or regional partnerships form an association in which they share branding, administrative functions and various operating costs, but maintain separate revenue pools and often separate partner compensation structures.

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Law firms are typically organized around partners, who are joint owners and business directors of the legal operation; associates, who are employees of the firm with the prospect of becoming partners; and a variety of staff employees, providing paralegal, clerical, and other support services.

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Many large law firms have moved to a two-tiered partnership model, with equity and non-equity partners.

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However, some large Law firms have written into their partnership agreement a forced retirement age for partners, which can be anywhere from age 65 on up.

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The specific books of business and specialization of attorneys as well as the professional ethical structures surrounding conflict of interest can lead to Law firms splitting up to pursue different clients or practices, or merging or recruiting experienced attorneys to acquire new clients or practice areas.

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Law firm mergers tend to be assortative, in that only law firms operating in similar legal systems are likely to merge.

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Nevertheless, data from Altman Weil indicates that only four Law firms merged in the first half of 2013, as compared to eight in the same period in 2012, and this was taken by them as indicating a dip in morale regarding the legal economy and the amount of demand.

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The smallest law firms are lawyers practicing alone, who form the vast majority of lawyers in nearly all countries.

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Large law firms usually have separate litigation and transactional departments.

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NewLaw firms was devised as a term in 2013 by consultant Eric Chin.

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NewLaw firms has been defined as “any model, process, or tool that represents a significantly different approach to the creation or provision of legal services than what the legal profession traditionally has employed”.

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However the largest law firms are not very large compared to other major businesses.

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However, many Law firms have switched to a level-based compensation system, in which associates are divided into three levels based on skills mastered.

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Typically in Australian firms lawyers are in a lock-step system for the first two years of practice, following which pay increases are dependent on performance assessed, in large measure, by satisfaction of billable hour targets.

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International Law firms pay significantly more, with senior associates often making more than $250,000.

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Tier 1 law firms provide the best pay package, of about INR 15,00,000 annually.

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Law firms are ranked both objectively, such as by revenue, profits per partner, and subjectively, by various legal publishers and journalists.

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