As a number of prominent partners leave BigLaw and join boutiques — or form their own — some high-paying and sought-after work is being funneled away from the global giants to more modestly sized law firms.
The shift to boutiques is being driven by multinational corporations' desire for lower fees, more specialized expertise and a need for more responsiveness from outside counsel, according to a survey last month of 307 business leaders from companies in the U.S., U.K. and Europe by business services marketplace Globality Inc.
And more and more boutiques are bolstering their offerings with BigLaw experience.
As boutiques become an option for a wider range of legal matters, partners are finding more reasons to make the move away from BigLaw, according to Jeffrey Lowe, head of partner recruiting at Major Lindsey & Africa.
Partners at large law firms that are growing larger every day may look back to when they joined their firms 15 or 20 years earlier and realize some of the intimacy has been lost. They also may find that their firms have grown in ways that don't mesh with their own practices, Lowe said.
"I think you'll continue to see it as [BigLaw] firms grow and grow and grow," he said of partners lateraling to smaller law firms. "It's inevitable that at some point people will break off. I think they are attracted to a smaller and more focused platform."