On Tuesday, September 24th I will be the keynote speaker at the Law Society of Scotland’s “Law in Scotland” conference in Glasgow.
The Society was kind enough to interview me for a profile in their Journal of the Law Society of Scotland, and the story is available here.
A few quick excerpts:
An American of Scottish ancestry, whose brand “Adam Smith, Esq.” adopts the name of our greatest economist, but who has spent his career in the “BigLaw” environment of Manhattan, is to deliver a keynote address at the Society’s Law in Scotland conference on 24 September.
Bruce MacEwen’s reputation as a practical, no-nonsense adviser has been much enhanced since the publication earlier this year of his book Growth is Dead: Now What?, enthusiastically reviewed at Journal, July 2013, 7. It pulls no punches about why the boom times of constantly rising revenues and profits have ended for America’s leading law firms, and the challenge they face in adapting to the new market they now find themselves in.
MacEwen’s analysis is that BigLaw faces unique challenges, but exploring his reasons elicits a picture with a familiar ring as respects major firms this side of the Pond.
Possibly a more contentious point in Growth is Dead is that firms that are neither top end nor niche specialists – particularly mid-sized, full service firms – will find it hard to preserve market share. I suggest that such firms will respond that they have often been written off in the past, but are still thriving, partly through good client relationships. Why should that not continue?
“OK, that’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? The answer is, I think that can be enough, with three conditions. The first is that the firm itself knows who they are and where they fit in the market. There is room on the market for middle market players. There is nothing wrong with the middle market; you just have to manage it differently than the high end. Condition no 2 goes back to client service. These firms really, really need to take client service seriously.
“And condition no 3 is, I’m assuming that these client relationships are owned, if you will, by relatively senior partners in the firm, and at least here in the States, altogether too many of these senior partners are reluctant to pass on these clients to the next generation. They hoard the clients, with the result that when mortality and age take their course and the senior partner cuts back, the client really does not have a close relationship with anybody else in the firm. That’s an enormous problem.”
I hope I can see more than a few of you there.