The Rapidly Changing Legal Career Track
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There was a time not so long ago when the typical lawyer’s career track was rather predictable: four years of college, three years of law school, and an additional seven years as an associate before being elevated to the partnership, where he (and it usually was a “he”) could expect to remain until retirement.
But for many of today’s lawyers, partnership in a downtown law firm is not only out of reach, it simply isn’t what they want to do with their careers, especially since the highest-paying law firm jobs come with stressful 80-hour work weeks. The desire to recalibrate the work/life balance has been helped along by technological advances that allow lawyers to get more work done from more locations, resulting in changes to the legal profession that were unimaginable only a few years ago.
One example is the “virtual” law firm Axiom Law, which was founded in 2000 and now employs more than 600 full-time attorneys. Axiom Law attorneys mostly work from their homes or clients’ offices on non-litigation matters such as contracts, transactions and legal research. The firm’s lawyers are paid an average of $200,000 annually, and they charge rates considerably lower than most big firms. The model appears to be working: Axiom Law’s revenue rose from $1 million in 2002 to approximately $80 million last year. Another notable change can be found in the growing number of lawyers doing specialized work in areas that weren’t considered that special a few years ago, like document review.
While there are legitimate ethical and professional liability issues to work through in these new areas of legal employment – and various bar groups are attempting to do just that – the trend should be a welcome one. Ultimately, the more efficiently and effectively that legal services can be delivered while maintaining the requisite level of professional standards, the better it is for clients, who ultimately foot the bill.
Posted: 10/10/2011 6:57:32 AM by
On the Merits Editor | with 1 comments
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Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.
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