Volume 36

Rumors of the Death of BigLaw Are Greatly Exaggerated Reviewing Mitt Regan & Lisa H. Rohrer, BigLaw: Money and Meaning in the Modern Law Firm (University of Chicago Press 2021)

by W. Bradley Wendel

Many legal profession scholars have predicted the decline, or even demise, of large law firms. But not only are they still with us, they are flourishing. Drawing from hundreds of interviews with firm partners, Mitt Regan and Lisa Rohrer offer a sophisticated explanation of the resilience of this form of organizing the delivery of legal services. Regan and Rohrer see firm managers as trying to solve a Prisoner’s Dilemma and Assurance Game in light of the risk that partners with a substantial book of business may exit the firm and take their clients to another firm. Financial and non-financial rewards, many of which are within the control of firm management, provide firm-specific capital that keep partners committed to their existing firms and prevent their defection on the lateral market. Regan and Rohrer argue that they have identified a distinctive ethical conception of lawyering associated with BigLaw that combines business logic and the logic of professionalism. This Review considers the relationship between large firm structure and compensation practices and some competing conceptions of ethical lawyering.


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