Solos/Small Firms

BigLaw Lawyers Jump to Small Firms, Law’s Fastest Growing Sector

Smaller, more nimble law firms were at an advantage during the recession: They were able to quickly adjust.

As large law firms shed lawyers, smaller firms were hiring, the Los Angeles Times reports. Legal recruiters told the newspaper that most attorney placements last year were with smaller law firms able to charge lower prices for their experienced new hires, lawyers from larger law firms.

These smaller law firms have lower overhead and greater flexibility, the story says. “In an inverse demonstration that size matters, small firms able to quickly reinvent themselves have benefited despite shrinking spending on legal services and a more demanding clientele,” the Times says.

The newspaper cites the example of Scott Sagaria, a divorce lawyer who switched to a focus on bankruptcy law as the recession hit hard. He started out as a solo and now has seven lawyers practicing in his firm.

Sagaria’s firm is an example of a consumer-friendly approach to legal practice. “They’re open Saturdays,” the story says. “They offer payment plans in the place of up-front retainers. Decisions don’t need to be run past a task force or partnership committee.”

Laura Farber, vice-chair of the ABA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division, told the Times that small law firms are the largest and fastest-growing sector of the legal community. Farber is a partner at a 23-lawyer law firm in Pasadena, Calif., and a member of the ABA Journal Board of Editors.

Lawyers making the leap to smaller firms will get to experience another advantage at their new workplace, Farber says. There is more time for family and community involvement. “It’s a very dramatic difference,” she told the newspaper.

Related coverage: “2 Partners of Well-Known Firm Downsize, Now Answer Own Phones at Own Shop”

Updated at 1:52 p.m. to link to related coverage.

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