Franchise Law Firms and the Transformation of Personal Legal Services

By Jerry Van Hoy | Go to book overview

retary. But that is only the first step in the process. Although they may not "craft" documents such as wills in the manner envisioned by their clients, they review the documents and make changes beyond correcting spelling errors when necessary.

The prepackaged production systems of franchise law firms do not necessarily preclude attorneys from making similar changes. However, the prepackaged approach does tend to limit the attorneys' interpretations of their roles to simply selling a service. The franchise incentive systems focus attention on sales and profits, not well-considered services. Perhaps the difference is best summed up by noting that the solo practitioners and small-firm lawyers I interviewed seemed to be aware that they were selling themselves-- as competent, caring individuals--in a relationship with clients. Attorneys at Arthur & Nelson and Beck & Daniels sell each firm's solutions to client problems.

Despite the routine nature of personal legal services work, only four attorneys in my sample of solo and small-firm practitioners refer to their work as boring, uninteresting or not sufficiently challenging. In contrast, almost all of the franchise attorneys complain that their work is very routine, and boring. The predicament of franchise lawyers is that they must spend their working time selling services to as many clients as is possible for their branch offices to make a profit. Prepackaged law, by focusing on flat fees and high- volume services, forces attorneys at franchise law firms to accept more standardization and limitation of legal decision-making and production tasks than is the case for traditional practitioners. The political economy of franchise law firms intensifies production and limits attorney autonomy to choosing between only a few choices.


NOTES
1.
Attorneys who report spending more than 30 percent of their working time in a particular area of law are considered specialists. Attorneys may be classified as specializing in more than one area of law (see Chapter 1, note 7).
2.
I am assuming a six-day work week, as that is what most of my respondents report. Carlin does not specify the length of his respondents' work week.
3.
Carlin ( 1994, p. 41) reports that his sample of solo practitioners

-85-

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Franchise Law Firms and the Transformation of Personal Legal Services
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1- The Rise of Franchise Law Firms 1
  • 2- The Organization of Mass Production Law 27
  • Notes 50
  • 3- Client Services: Selling and Processing Law 51
  • Notes 75
  • 4- Franchise Law Firms and Traditional Practice 77
  • Notes 85
  • 5- Lawyer Alienation 87
  • Notes 112
  • 6- Alienation and Unions 115
  • Notes 127
  • 7- Markets, Innovation and Prepackaged Law 129
  • Appendix: Data and Methods 139
  • Notes 142
  • References 143
  • Index 149
  • About the Author 156
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