Franchise Law Firms and the Transformation of Personal Legal Services

By Jerry Van Hoy | Go to book overview

accept positions that require long hours of routine work with minimal compensation. But it is the setting of unachievable goals and incentives by the franchise firms that leads staff attorneys to the conclusion that they are virtually disposable. Since there is no upward movement for staff attorneys, advancement opportunities must be found elsewhere.

Managing attorneys come to the franchise firms seeking a balance between a competitive market for clients and professional autonomy. What they find, however, is that in exchange for a steady flow of clients, prepackaged production systems and managerial authority severely constrain their professional independence. It is not having supervisors that alienates most managing attorneys. Rather, it is the experience of constantly having to fight for and protect branch office autonomy and profits from management's "greed" or irrationality that creates most of the disaffection among managing attorneys.

Each firm's partnership program seeks to counter the alienation experienced by managing attorneys by offering more local autonomy. But in each case there has been a price for greater local autonomy: the centralization of production outside of branch offices at Arthur & Nelson; and the shifting of financial risk for the operation of the law firm to local partners at Beck & Daniels. Next we look at another response to worker alienation--support of unions among branch office lawyers.


NOTES
1.
Beck & Daniels requires that even experienced attorneys work initially as staff attorneys before moving into branch office management positions (see Chapter 2).
2.
Regional and national managers at Beck & Daniels and Arthur Nelson confirm the high rate of staff attorney turnover but argue that it does not pose problems for the firms. They suggest that the real threat to branch office operations is keeping qualified managing attorneys on the job.
3.
It is interesting to note that female managing attorneys in highly profitable offices are more likely to share their earnings with office staff, while males in similar positions tend to offer time off.
4.
The issue of how staff attorneys interpret their position in the franchise environment will be explored in more detail in Chapter 6.

-112-

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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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