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Playing Both Sides: Facing the Harsh Truth of Law Firm Service Duality

Whereas in the past clients took the lead from law firms in defining high-end practices worthy of premium rates, today’s clients have the tools and information to make smarter, wiser purchase decisions.

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Recently, Hugh A. Simons wrote for American Lawyer, this newsletter’s ALM sibling, an enticing argument advocating elite law firms increase their rates. In one striking comment, Simons suggests elite law firms jettison any and all commodity services. In justifying his position he states “… managing businesses with dramatically different fund strategies requires ambidexterity few trained business leaders, let alone lawyers, possess.” While catering to high-end needs may certainly simplify operational management, the practicality of this approach is limited to no more than a handful of truly elite firms — leaving the vast majority of firms — including some of today’s highest performers — demanding a different modus operandi.

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