From Philalawyer.net, a blog written by an anonymous associate at a Philadelphia law firm. He's bitter, cynical, and seems to have a serious drug and alcohol problem. But he can write like an angel, and here's his most recent description of why business development matters. Spot on:
"Can you tell Terry what you told me?" Margaret asked. "All of it?" I could feel sweat saturating into armpit stains. I gave him a half-assed capsule summary of my rant. "There will always be a place in the market for good lawyers." Terry deadpanned back. "A good lawyer is a lawyer with business. Service Partners are indentured servants, and the clients get more savvy every day. The rates are going up, but the realization is going down. Clients are shopping by price; it's an actuarial game. We're going to be like accountants in 15 years."
"That's a tad cynical, isn't it?" Terrance quipped.
It was cynical. Law is a cynical business. The process of building, hiring, feeding and wringing profits out of young lawyers is among the most craven systems ever invented. First you seek people who behave like computers. You want talent, but you want it in a limited form. A single 150 IQ with an endless reservoir of Protestant Work Ethic beats a half dozen courtroom prodigies every day. You want a hungry, bright Believer who'll work like a dog and consciously avoid asking all the questions that would drive a seer to leave... Drones with the Oedipus gene bred out of them - the sort who'd never have the balls to steal clients and start their own firm. You need kids who know nothing about the business of law and don't see past what looks like the biggest salary anyone under 30 could have.
If you manage this human capital the right way, over their eight year career at your firm, you get 16,000 billable hours out of an associate. At an average rate of $300.00 per hour, that's enough to buy the biggest ego a swell beach house. These kids will bill nights and weekends and lose their minds when you give them that $15,000.00 Christmas bonus. If they want prestige, you can give them a title like "Member" or "Non-Equity Partner." This will stall a few from asking about being made an actual partner for a few years. "Partner" is for closers, and closers have business. The ones that don't like being capped in the "non-equity" or "member" pools will leave. They'll join boutique firms, but you don't have to worry about them stealing business. If you've kept them in the office enough over the years, they won't have that skill."
Whole post: here