Today’s New York Times published a story about how law firms are embracing a two-tier system for their associates: partner and non-partner track. The article, “Law Firms Embrace a Two-Tiered System“, was written by Catherine Rampell. The article talks about how Mark Thompson, 29, accepted a non-partner-track post at the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe when he could not find a traditional associate job. The idea is pretty simple: law firms create a separate class of associates for lower-paid associates who have less responsibilities and stress.
This article talks about one of the many important ways in which the legal services industry is changing. There are other important examples, such as:
- Lawyers losing their jobs and finding difficulty getting jobs out of law school;
- Newer, cheaper software (e.g. automated document assembly) replacing lawyers;
- Lawyers using (at clients’ demands) legal outsourcing as a way to reduce legal bills;
- Non-lawyers being able to invest in and partner up with law firms (e.g. U.K.);
- Lawyers competing online for work;
- Lawyers’ demands for work-life balance;
- Lawyers recognizing the need to develop their business (e.g. marketing, human resources, investing in IT, etc.) instead of just seeing themselves as professionals; and
- The rise of lawyers using the internet (e.g. websites, social media, youtube, etc.) to market their practice.