We humans like to put things in categories.

And while we can get it plain wrong, or mix up two categories benignly or malignly, there’s no question our propensity for categorization—from friend or foe and food to poison, to Linnaeus, to the periodic table, to the Dewey decimal system—has gotten us a long way on the planet so far.

So today we launch our own taxonomy of law firms.

The ground rules:

  • We’re only categorizing BigLaw, or Sophisticated Law; but you knew that.
  • Do not make the flat out wrong assumption that any of these models requires or entails a one-size-fits-all approach to quality, pricing, profitability, or anything else. Many firms following the same model can have extremely different approaches to where they fit on the prestige scale, where their clientele primarily comes from, the caliber of talent they attract and require, and so forth. In short, you can serve the top, the middle, or the value portion of the market under any of these models (you just can’t serve more than one such segment…)
  • We’re not going to identify firms by name who fit into any specific category; you can play that game at home.
  • Membership in a particular category for a particular firm is not static; firms can, have, and will continue to, move between categories. In fact, we live for and celebrate dynamism.

So without further ado:

Related Articles


Sign-up for email

Be the first to learn of Adam Smith, Esq. invitation-only events, surveys, and reports.