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Money and Meaning in the Modern Law Firm


Money and Meaning in the Modern Law Firm

The Great Recession intensified large law firms’ emphasis on financial performance, leading to claims that lawyers in these firms were now guided by business rather than professional values.  Based on interviews with more than 250 partners in large firms, Mitt Regan and Lisa H. Rohrer suggest that the reality is much more complex. It is true that large firm hiring, promotion, compensation, and termination policies are more influenced by business considerations than ever before and that firms actively recruit profitable partners from other firms to replace those they regard as unproductive. At the same time, law firm partners continue to seek the non-financial rewards of being members of a distinct profession and are sensitive to whether their firms are committed to providing them. Regan and Rohrer argue that modern firms responding effectively to business demands while credibly affirming the importance of non-financial professional values can create strong cultures that enhance their ability to weather the storms of the modern legal market.

264 pages | 3 figures | 6 x 9 | © 2021

Chicago Series in Law and Society

Law and Legal Studies: General Legal Studies

Sociology: Occupations, Professions, Work


"Explores how large firms are responding to intensifying competition and what this means for lawyers’ understandings of themselves as professionals, focusing on interviews conducted between 2009 and 2016 with partners in large US law firms to assess the claim that business concerns are eclipsing professional values in law firm practice."

Journal of Economic Literature

Table of Contents

Introduction: BigLaw

1   Business and Profession: Bridging the Divide

2   Clients in the Driver’s Seat

3   Encouraging Entrepreneurs

4   Entrepreneurs and Collaboration

5   Pruning for Productivity

6   The Material Economy of Compensation 

7   The Symbolic Economy of Compensation

8   Luring Laterals

9   Trusted Advisors and Service Providers

Conclusion: Money and Meaning in the Modern Law Firm

Appendix on the Research Project

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