Pro’s of these firms’ business model:

  • They’re the Masters of Branding: it’s self-evident what they do, to clients and potential partners and associates
  • They can trump competition
  • Talent feels valued
  • They tend to have few conflicts.

Con’s of the model:

  • Lack of diversification; subject to cyclical downturns
  • Can become complacent
  • No cross-pollination of ideas

And the management challenges? A reflection of who they are and what they do:

  • The unyielding requirement to remain rigorous about your focus
  • Remain uncompromising in talent recruitment—no “bleeding over” into adjacent practice areas
  • And most importantly, disciplined, “continuous improvement” [kaizen] in business process optimization.

Can they screw it up? Permit me to editorialize that the capacity of lawyers to be severely retarded developmentally challenged as businesspeople knows no bounds. But if they can hold it all together, it seems to me the pertinent questions are:

Can you fight them on their own turf?

Why would you want to try?

The question for clients is extremely simple: When you need what they offer, “why go anywhere else?”

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