The practice of law is not immune to these trends. Even as large international law firms continue to grow ever-bigger, incessantly merging and expanding by acquiring smaller firms around the globe, corporate legal clients are increasingly retaining small law firms and boutiques, such as LeVan Law Group LLC, for their legal needs. As the American Bar Association noted: "Corporate legal clients once again seem to be developing an affinity for small law firms.... With increasing frequency, the chief legal officers of leading corporations are now retaining small law firms and even solo practitioners." See Bigger Isn't Always Better When It Comes to Outside Counsel, American Bar Association, Section of Litigation (November 2007).
What accounts for this shift towards smaller firms? Horace W. Jordan, Jr., the co-chair of the ABA Section of Litigation's Corporate Counsel Committee, identifies the two principal causes as "the billable hour and a feeling that the smaller firm might have more flexibility in both arranging billings and understanding the client and its business.” Id. In a similar vein, GE's former general counsel, Ben E. Heineman, Jr., has publicly expressed doubt that large law firms actually provide the superior service, quality and price they claim. See Bigger Isn't Better: One-stop Shopping at Giant Global Firms Has Its Limits, Says GE's Former Top Lawyer, Corporate Counsel (November 2008). In his article, Mr. Heineman notes that the ever-increasing growth of large firms (1) puts enormous pressure on firms to bill more per attorney and more per matter (which, under the traditional billable hour model, translates to clients paying more); (2) creates a significant disconnect between the economic interests of the client, which views "the issue of productivity on a 'total-cost' (single price) per-matter basis," with the interests of the large law firm, which judges productivity on how many billable hours it can extract from each matter; and (3) causes significant impediments to quality control and accountability for the matter. Id.
At LeVan Law Group LLC, we do things differently. First, we've kicked the billable hour model to the curb. We offer a variety of alternative fee arrangements that provide the client with financial predictability from the very start of the matter. There is no economic incentive to increase billing; the terms of the engagement are set from the start. Second, under any of our alternative fee arrangements, the firm takes financial risk with the client, thereby aligning the client's and our respective interests in promptly and efficiently resolving the matter at the earliest possible stage of the proceeding. We are paid to provide you with high-quality legal services in connection with a specific case -- not based upon how long it takes us to accomplish certain tasks. Third, we willingly embrace quality control and accountability considerations and, because of our size, are able to efficiently monitor and control our services to provide clients with the best possible experience. That is equally true for the clients: You will always have direct contact with and the personal attention of the trial attorney who performed the work in question -- not merely the attorney leading a team of unnamed individuals whom you have never met. You know us and we know you.
But why trust an important case to a small boutique like LeVan Law Group LLC? For high-stakes cases, you need a large firm with phalanxes of attorneys prepared for battle, right?
No; usually not. A small group of highly-skilled trial attorneys can handle most litigation matters -- regardless of type, complexity, stakes or value -- better than large masses of lawyers putting time into a case. The highly-skilled smaller group benefits from enhanced continuity and accountability and is more adept at quickly and efficiently responding to the constantly changing landscape of an ongoing litigation matter. This principle is well-known outside the litigation context. When the United States went in to take out Osama bin Laden, we did not send a military division, regiment, brigade, battalion, platoon or even a single company. We sent two dozen highly-trained Navy SEALs. Why? Because the limited number of SEALs could quickly and efficiently get in, get the job done, and get out. Swift team-based decisive action under central control where each member is fully accountable for his or her specific responsibility: The strength of small numbers.
Even the most hotly contested litigation cases cannot remotely compare to military incursions, and I make no such claim, but I do believe that the same "strength of small numbers" principles can be applied to high-stakes litigation matters. With the technology available today, it is no longer necessary to fight an opposing side's large team of lawyers by having (and paying for) your own large team of lawyers. A small set of highly-skilled trial attorneys with laser-focused execution can triumph over the floodlight approach taken by several dozen opposing lawyers. I know this from personal experience: In the national class-action ERISA cases that we successfully prosecuted against JPMorgan Chase and BNY Mellon, the lawyers from the well-respected national firms on the other side outnumbered us 4 or 5 to 1. Notwithstanding this discrepancy, our small team was able to successfully prosecute the actions, fend off defense efforts, prepare the cases for trial, and ultimately achieved settlements in the amount of $430 million.
Davids really can beat Goliaths -- as long as you choose the right warriors.
Don't fall into the trap of believing that only large firms can handle important or high-stakes litigation and appellate matters. Give careful consideration to each dispute and consider whether the laser precision of a small group of highly-trained trial attorneys may be superior to an army of lawyers' floodlight approach.
Think of LeVan Law Group LLC as your litigation strike force. We will get in, get the job done, and get out. The strength of small numbers.