Law Practice Management

Is Law Firm Paradigm Shift Ahead? Bring It On, Says Dechert Leader

  • Print

Will a paradigm shift change the way law firms do business? Quite possibly, says Dechert chairman Bart Winokur, who is ready for the challenge.

Winokur “is a lawyer with a long reputation for being tough, even ruthless,” the Lawyer reports. Many legal consultants believe he is one of the most effective managing partners in the United States. These observers believe he is well-prepared to lead the firm after three rounds of lawyer and staff cuts.

Most recently, in late March, the law firm laid off 63 “lawyers and other timekeepers” and 62 staff members. Previously the firm had cut 29 lawyers and 87 staff members.

Winokur spoke to the Lawyer before his firm’s layoffs on March 26. The article pointed out challenges for Dechert: a 50 percent drop in revenue for the firm’s finance and real estate practice, departures in the firm’s London real estate practice, and the closing of its office in Frankfurt, Germany.

At the same time, the firm has no debt, a positive cash flow and a strong dispute resolution practice that brought in more than 50 percent of the firm’s revenue last year, the story says.

Winokur believes that the best will succeed, no matter what the challenges. “Cream always rises,” Winokur told the Lawyer.

“What’s happening is a little more serious than I thought, but not a lot more,” Winokur told the publication. “But I’m tempted to say there’s a paradigm shift facing law firms in terms of the way we do business. Because I like that. I always think I have an advantage when there’s a paradigm shift.”

Winokur said the legal market also saw fundamental changes in three of the last four decades (he excluded the 1990s). Such changes bring opportunities, in his view. “They favor the nimble, the brave, the people who have courage and who embrace change,” he told the publication.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.