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Is Winter Coming For Big Law?

The House of Stark is back! And given who we are, we couldn’t help but ask: “Is Winter Coming for Big Law?” We know the legal industry is changing by the day – and tons of work that used to be locked up with certain firms is now up for grabs.
The most innovative GCs are unbundling their legal relationships from the highest priced, big-ticket firms. Today’s GC doesn’t want to be paying $1M for a $100 million M&A matter or using a Top 10 PPP firm for a standard litigation matter.
These trends remind us of the recent cord-cutting trend in television where consumers are foregoing high-priced cable bundles for self-curated bundles of content – a little Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO Go (can’t miss Game of Thrones!).
This has created both opportunity and turmoil in the entertainment, sports, and content industry: huge layoffs at ESPN while new markets for the production of television shows and the creation of specialised genres continue to grow. Competitive e-sports, anyone?
Navigating this tumult will determine whether “winter” is a threat or an opportunity for modern law firms.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the largest firms are not safe – even in the near-future. According to Bodhala data models, 38% of the business of the 20 richest firms in the country is at risk – the matters are not “bet the company” and they can be done far more efficiently at firms further down the ladder.
Legal departments across the country are seeking a more balanced mix of firms. One Fortune 100 GC told us simply – sure, some work is suited for Wachtell or Cravath, but the rest should be directed to AmLaw 50-200 firms and elite boutiques. And there are many more like her.
Each AmLaw 50-200 firm is missing out on tens of millions in potential business because of improper targeting, incomplete analysis, and an inability to communicate its unique value to increasingly receptive clients.
The “middling middle” of the market is actually the “opportunity middle” of the market for the next 20 years – assuming those firms don’t let Winter come.
Compliments of Bodhala, a member of the EACC NY