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Tournament of Lawyers

The Transformation of the Big Law Firm

Tournament of Lawyers traces in detail the rise of one hundred of the nation’s top firms in order to diagnose the health of the business of American law. Galanter and Palay demonstrate that much of the large firm’s organizational success stems from its ability to blend the talents of experienced partners with those of energetic junior lawyers driven by a powerful incentive—the race to win "the promotion-to-partner tournament." This calmly reasoned study reveals, however, that the very causes of the spiraling growth of the large law firm may lead to its undoing.

"Galanter and Palay pose questions and offer some answers which are certain to change the way big firm practice is regarded. To describe their work as challenging is something of an understatement: they at times delight, stimulate, frustrate and even depress the reader, but they never disappoint. Tournament of Lawyers is essential to the understanding of the business of the big law firms."—Jean and Colin Fergus, New York Law Journal

205 pages | 56 graphs, 9 tables | 6 x 9 | © 1991

Law and Legal Studies: Law and Society, Legal Thought

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. The Emergence of the Big Firm
3. Circa 1960: The Golden Age of the Big Law Firm
4. The Transformation
The Changing Environment of the Big Firm
The Transformation of the Big Firm
The "New Information Order" of the Law
5. Explaining Big-Firm Growth and Change: The Promotion-to-Partner Tournament
The Pattern of Growth
Toward A Theory of Exponential Growth
Some Alternative Theories of the Kink in Post-1970 Growth
Confronting the Constraints on Exponential Growth
6. Metamorphoses? A Brief Inquiry into the Future Shape of Law Practice
Appendix A: Data on the Size of Law Firms
Appendix B: Regression Results
Appendix C: Graphs of Firm Size

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