Drudgery and the Corporatisation of Law

In this post at Adam Smith, Esq., Bruce MacEwen—I assume it’s Bruce—riffs on a couple of articles in the U.K. periodical Law Week, this one asking “Does the global law model help or hinder the top-level adviser?” and this one asking “Do big personalities exist at law firms?”

These articles, and Bruce’s piece, consider the notion that law firms are limiting their recruitment criteria to narrower and narrower academic criteria. What are the implications, in terms of the kind of advice law firms can provide and the kind of environment they offer their recruits?

For me, here’s the nut graf in Bruce’s item:

The more that our services are outsourced, disintermediated, and mass-produced, the more we need the Big Personalities. The grey drones won’t be calling cards for us; clients (some of them, anyway, and not the ones we worry about initially, but conceivably more and more until they begin to include clients we do care about) will decide they can get the grey drones elsewhere.

I’d emphasize the flip side of the coin: The more you outsource, the fewer drones you’ll need. And outsourcing will give Big Personalities more room to flourish.

If a large part of your practice consists of drudgery, it follows that it will be performed by drudges. Hacking at contract precedent of questionable quality and relevance can be a particularly dreary form of drudgery. I like to think that down the road Koncision will play a part in improving the lot of the junior associate by eliminating much of that hacking.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

3 thoughts on “Drudgery and the Corporatisation of Law”

  1. Ken, it might be the case that “[t]he more you outsource, the fewer drones you’ll need. However, how will the drones of today every develop into the Big Personalities – who will hopefully flourish? And if you outsource the drudge, then those BPs won’t be able to cut their teeth on the bread and butter of what lawyers are supposed to do.

    This isn’t just playing with logic. It’s a pressing issue as the trend for English law firms to outsource to South Africa and India grows. The use of the term Big Personalities is not free from ambiguity too as evidenced by the discussion in the Lawyer. In any case, the legal model in England is changing so that non-Lawyers will be in partnership with lawyers.

    • Gil: Drudgery doesn’t constitute good training. And outsourcing drudgery can provide improved opportunities for training: if I do my work right, completing one Koncision confidentiality-agreement questionnaire and reading the resulting contract will provide a junior lawyer with a better understanding of how confidentiality agreements work than would creating twenty confidentiality agreements by copying and pasting from Word precedent. Ken

      • Ken,

        Agree with you on the mass copy and paste from Word phenomenon. Disagree with you on your interpretation of drudgery: Every lawyer has to deal with the nuts of bolts of agreements and other issues such as form filling, even. Agree with you on a definition of drudgery that would mean photocopying and similar tasks. Can’t comment yet on the Koncision point…


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