Finance Monthly - Legal Awards 2023

Now, in the era of remote working and mental health safeguards, these drawbacks may have started to outweigh BigLaw’s attractions. ‘THE END OF BIGLAW’ Observers within the legal sector have theorised about the ‘death’ of the BigLaw model for decades, particularly in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, which saw more than 14,000 members of staff at America’s largest firms laid off within a year. Some base their hypotheses in criticism of larger firms’ fundamental business structure, which often fosters bloated headcounts and a lack of diversification that can lead to vulnerability during times of economic stress. However, it may be more accurate to point to BigLaw’s culture as the root of its self-sabotage. Under 40% of aspiring lawyers born in the US between 1995 and 2012 – ‘Gen Z’ – say that they would like to join one of the 200 largest firms in the country; a figure that continues to fall. BigLaw firms’ perceived “sexist culture”, lack of work-life balance and a general lack of diversity in top positions were all cited as factors deterring respondents from seeking them out. Instead, they reported a stronger ambition to work as in-house counsel, in a government role or for a non-profit organisation. While America’s biggest firms may not be in any danger of collapsing overnight, young lawyers’ growing focus on pursuing careers that align with their values may yet force a shift in the BigLaw status quo. We at Lawyer Monthly will continue to track the evolution of the legal sector’s major players with great interest, and a hope that firms will see the benefit in devoting greater attention to the health and wellbeing of their top talent. 22% of lawyers work at firms of 100 or more attorneys 30% work at firms of two to nine 17% at firms of 10-49 5% at firms of 50-99 26% identify as solo practitioners SPECIAL FEATURE 25

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